Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Western's Laundry, Crouch Hill

This ghost sign has been slowly fading away but when freshly painted it would certainly have caught the attention of the passing public with its modern design and its deep blue frame, a colour that matched the ultramarine tiles used on the front of the laundries (unfortunately these and the chrome lettering are long gone).
From the few pieces of information I could find, it seems Western's Laundries Ltd was founded during the first decade of the 20th century. By the 1960s, if not earlier, it had become part of the Sunlight group. Its laundries, located in north London, remained open until the 1980s.

Service & ...
Every ...

A white band with the letters "has a" is wrapped around the first letter of 'Service.' Was this part of the Western's Laundry sign or of an earlier one?

Location: Middle Lane Mews / Picture taken on: 19/10/2010

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Dorking Aerated, Dorking

With the second line of this ghost sign missing -and possibly more- the nature of the business advertised on this wall remains a mystery. What could be "aerated"? My first thought was bread -because of the Aerated Bread Company- but since it is painted on what looks like an industrial building, I don't think this was the case. Aerated water? Aerated concrete? Whenever I'm in Dorking, it's at the end of a walk through the beautiful Surrey Hills and by then the local museum is closed. Maybe one day I should pass there before heading for the countryside and check if they don't have any information about this ghost sign.

Dorking Aerated

Location: Ranmore Road, Dorking, Surrey / Picture taken on: 27/02/2011

Friday, 26 August 2011

Garage, Tonnay-Charente

Yesterday, before catching a plane back to London, I stopped in the little town of Tonnay-Charente, on the northern bank of, you've guessed it, the River Charente. As I walked through the quiet streets I discovered several ghost signs, including the ones below, which may not be with us for much longer. As stated on the notice displayed on the door, this former garage has been bought and will be converted into flats. I doubt the property developers will keep these painted signs on the façade.

Garage de l'Hotel de Ville

Since this garage was located exactly in front of the townhall, its owners didn't have to search for too long for a name.

The paint is cracking nicely and in spite of the passing of time the blue hasn't lost its depth. A lovely sign!

Even though the last letters of the ghost sign between the shutters have disappeared (they must have been painted on the shutter), one can easily recognise the logo of Cofran. Cofran lubricants have been manufactured since 1936 and the company is now one of the the world leading independent lubricant manufacturer.

Slightly more difficult to read was Automobiles, painted between the first and the second floors.

Location: Rue Alsace-Lorraine, Tonnay-Charente, Charente-Maritime / Pictures taken on: 25/08/2011

Monday, 15 August 2011

R. C. Evans, Catford

This ghost sign for this butcher was painted twice. Although the text remained the same, the original design was slightly different: key words stood out thanks to their red shadows while the other ones were written in italic.

R. C. Evans
Purveyor of
& Scotch
Finest Quality
Lowest Prices

Location: Sangley Road / Picture taken on: 23/07/2009

Friday, 12 August 2011

Unidad básica Joaquín de Agüero, Camaguey

On 12th August 1851, Joaquín de Agüero and three of his companions, Tomás Betancourt, Fernando de Zayas and Miguel Benavides, were executed by firing squad in the city of Puerto Príncipe (nowadays Camaguey), in central Cuba. The previous day they had been sentenced to death by the Spanish colonial authorities.
Joaquín de Agüero may not be the most famous hero in the struggle for Cuban independence but some of his actions are worth remembering. Born in 1816 in Puerto Príncipe in a family of small landowners, Agüero was sent at the age of 21 by his father to Havana to study law but returned two years later because of his father's ill health. His father died shortly afterwards and at the end of 1840 Joaquín de Agüero inherited the family's farms and six slaves. Two years later he founded the first free school in Guáimaro, a town of a few hundred souls about 70 km southwest of Puerto Príncipe. If the authorities thanked him for his action, they became extremely concerned when, on 3rd February 1843, he freed his eight slaves and gave each of them a plot of land they could cultivate and earn a living from. At the time pressure was mounting to abolish slavery but the Spanish authorities and large landowners were firmly opposed to such a measure. In that context, Agüero's decision was perceived as a grave offense against property, reason and justice and he was summoned by the governor of Puerto Príncipe to explain his action. Fearing for himself and his family, he left for the United States a few months later but, homesick, returned to Cuba after three months.
Back on the island, Agüero spent most of the time at El Redentor, his farm near Guáimaro, and became increasingly involved in the underground independence movements. By 1849 he was a leading member of Puerto Príncipe's Sociedad Libertadora, whose aim was to organize an armed uprising. This took place on the 4th July 1851 in San Francisco de Juracal, near Guáimaro. Agüero and his followers published a declaration rejecting Spanish authority and demanding independence before heading towards the more remote part of the region. Yet the forty-man strong force was badly organized and inexperienced in military matters. Hunted by Spanish troops, they were rapidly defeated. Agüero was betrayed and arrested on his way to Puerto Príncipe, from where he was hoping to reach the coast and escape to the US (*).

Following the independence several streets, avenues, squares and schools were named after Joaquín de Agüero. In Castrist Cuba, where many shops and companies have adopted the names of some of the island's leading figures, the name of Agüero is also associated in his hometown with a collective catering enterprise that offers, according to the painted sign below, sandwiches, drinks and enormous ice creams!

Empresa alimentación colectiva
Unidad básica Joaquín de Agüero

*: in spite of having "Puerto" in its name, in the 19th century Puerto Príncipe was nowhere near the coast. Originally, when it was founded in 1514 as Santa María del Puerto del Príncipe, it stood on the northern coast of Cuba, near present-day Nuevitas. However because of repeated attacks the site of the settlement was changed a couple of times before the inhabitants moved inland in 1528, halfway between the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. The name was later shortened to Puerto Príncipe. The city was renamed Camaguey in 1898 when Cuba gained independence from Spain.

Location: Avenidad de los Martires, Camaguey / Picture taken on: 30/03/2010

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Dining rooms, Battersea

By the end of the 1870s, London had an estimated 600 dining rooms. Some simply stated it on their front window, as in this picture taken in Brentford High Street, while others painted it in large letters across their façade.

Dining Rooms

Location: Queenstown Road / Picture taken on: 10/10/2008

Saturday, 6 August 2011

T. Harry, Stoke Newington

I don't have much to tell about T. Harry's business. Were these depositories used mainly by individuals or by the many industries that opened along Manor Road from the end of the 19th century? Over the years these included, among others, a drain pipe manufacturer, jam manufacturers (including D. Politi's company, which in the 1920s began making apparently good Turkish Delights), a large number of clothing manufacturers (including the London Shirt and Collar Dressing Co), several garages, a printer, and makers of cycles and umbrellas.
Although this ghost sign is very simple, it displays a rather unusual abbreviation: "Ces."

T. Harry & Ces

Location: Manor Road / Picture taken on: 01/04/2008

Friday, 5 August 2011

Millicent, Soho

I was lucky the door of this building was open, otherwise I would have missed this doorstep mosaic. Unfortunately I can't remember exactly in which street it was: Noel Street, Berwick Street, D'Arblay Street or Wardour Street.

Location: - / Picture taken on: 14/08/2008

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Boots, Fulham

Given its style, this ghost sign certainly advertised footwear rather than Boots the chemist. This may be confirmed the day the wooden sign goes: the very end of a word can be seen at the same level as "Pretty."


Location: Dawes Road / Picture taken on: 17/04/2008

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Pither, Wokingham

The shop is gone, but Pither's ghost sign still dominates the main street of the small Berkshire town of Wokingham.

I haven't found when this butcher's opened but in the 1860s, James Pither, who was the landlord of the public house The Swan in nearby Arborfield, also traded as a cattle dealer and as a butcher. Maybe he later moved to Wokingham or someone from his family did. In any case a postcard of Broad Street from c. 1919 shows the painted sign was already there. In 1932, his name appeared in the following notice published in The Meat Trades' Journal and Cattle Salesman's Gazette. The Organ of the British, Colonial, and Foreign Live Stock and Dead Meat Trades:
S. A. Pither, Ltd, 15 Borad-street, Wokingham, Berks--To carry on the business of butchers, meat salesmen, etc. Nominal capital: £1,000 in £1 shares. Permanent directors: S. A. Pither, 15 Borad-street, Wokingham, Berks (mang. dir.): Mrs. L. Pither, 15 Broad-street, Wokingham, Berks
Nine years later, on 18 July 1941, The London Gazette announced that
ALL persons having claim against the estate of Thomas Ballard Pither late of Number 22 Broad Street, Wokingham in the county of Berks retired Butcher (who died on the 27th day of January 1941; and whose Will together with a Codicil thereto was proved by Alan Howard Perkins and Herbert Bernard Jones the executors therein named on the i8th day of April 1941 in the Principal Probate Registry) are required to send particulars thereof to the undersigned on or before the 3oth September 1941, after which date the executors will proceed to distribute the estate having regard only to the claim of which they shall then have had notice.—Dated this i4th day of July, 1941.
Did the shop close when T. B. Pither retired or did it remain open for a few more years before falling victim to the competition of supermarkets?

English Meat Purveyor

The ghost sign can be seen on this picture taken c. 1955.

Location: Broad Street, Wokingham, Berkshire / Picture taken on: 31/07/2011