Thursday, 29 November 2012

Money lent, Marylebone

Back in May, to promote its direct services between London Marylebone and Birmingham, Chiltern Railways had the good idea of selling return tickets for as little as 50 pence. Being early, instead of waiting for my train on the platform, I went for a short walk around Marylebone. Thus, as it is often the case, it was by luck that I discovered this ghost sign.

The simplicity of the ghost sign could suggest this was a modest business and this could be why I have not found any detail about a moneylender by the name of Newman operating in Ivor Place (previously Upper Park Place) or the surrounding area.


Location: Ivor Place / Pictures taken in May 2012

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Fortess Road Post Office, Kentish Town

Most mosaics featured in this blog are laid on the doorstep of shops but it does not mean this is always the case as today's example illustrates.

The Fortess Road Post Office was built in the late 19th century, shortly after the Kentish Town end of this thoroughfare was widened.

While some post offices were identified by more or less modest painted signs (see two examples from Stoke Newington and Woodvale), the Fortess Road branch was given a lovely mosaic with elaborate lettering surrounded by floral patterns.

The same floral motif is found above three windows (for some reason the mosaic above the fourth one was lost).

Location: Fortess Road / Picttures taken in August 2008

Monday, 26 November 2012

Tombs, Hoxton

No information seems to be available online about Tombs the butcher.

His shop, which once occupied the ground floor of this small block of flats, was replaced by a cafe a few years ago.


Location: Nile Street / Pictures taken in March 2012

Saturday, 24 November 2012

James Rugg & Son, Earl's Court

In a small street, a few metres away from the crowds of Earls Court Road, is this large and well-preserved ghost sign.

The only mentions of the building and decorating firm of James Rugg & Son I could find date from 1933 and 1948, in The Electrical Journal and Charles White's The Royal Borough of Kensington respectively.

It is rather unusual for the name of a telephone exchange -Frobisher- to be written in full, the custom being to put the first three letters only. In this case, potential customers would have had to dial the code 370 for FRO. The Frobisher exchange served the Earls Court area (if the name of most exchanges made sense -in some way-, in this particular case it escapes me as I haven't found any connection between this part of Kensington and the English navigator and explorer Martin Frobisher).

Given its good state, this ghost sign was certainly painted after the war, possibly in the 1950s if not later. In any case no later than 1966 since that year the Director System for telephone numbers (three letters followed by four numbers) was replaced by All Figure Numbering.

Phone Frobisher - 1155
James Rugg & Son Ltd
Builders Decorators
Sanitary & Electrical

Location: Kenway Road / Pictures taken in November 2012

Friday, 23 November 2012

Bishop & Sons, Pimlico

Nearly a couple of months ago, while travelling on a train towards Victoria Station, I noticed one of the billboards overlooking the railway tracks had gone, revealing a large ghost sign.

The removal firm Bishop & Sons was established in 1854 by Joseph James Bishop. The company's original depository was located in Hugh Street, Pimlico (it may have been the building where the ghost sign was painted). As business grew, other depositories were built nearby in Ebury Street and Belgrave Road as well as in Clapham. By the mid-1930s, the surface space of its West End storage facilities exceeded 60,000 square feet. Besides the removing and warehousing of furniture, the company's activities also covered the buying and selling of furniture and their shipments abroad. Among its customers were wealthy families from London with summer residences in the south of England.

The Belgrave Road depository, built in the inter-war years, overlooked the eastern section of Victoria Station and housed the company's main offices. By 1930s standards it was a modern building of fireproof reinforced concrete and tiled floors. Although the Belgrave Road façade was rather narrow it extended into Hugh Street (this was a new one, not the original depository), where the storage space was found. Pantechnicons and later trucks could be driven into the ground floor, where their loads were brought by several lifts to the upper floors. It was on this building that in the early 1930s the company installed a large electric sign visible from the Kent coast trains arriving at and leaving Victoria Station. With such a modern advert, the earlier sign painted two hundred metres further south would have suddenly looked a bit dull.

Fa... Removing
& Warehousing
Bishop & Sons
Hugh St. & Ebury St.
Pimlico, London, SW1

I am a bit puzzled by the first word. One would have expected 'Furniture' but the second letter seems to a 'A'. Could this have been 'Family-run'? If you have another idea, please let me know.

Below is a company's postcard showing one of its steam tractors. During the first half of the 20th century Bishop & Sons operated a fleet of such steam pantechnicons (see pictures of a preserved engine) alongside horse-drawn ones (similar to the one featured on a Thornton Heath ghost sign). In the early 20th century it kept eighty horses in its stables. During the summer months, when activity was reduced, many horses were rented for haymaking and other farming activities. As the company's number of trucks increased in the 1920s and 1930s, their number declined but in the mid-1930s it still kept five pairs of horses as they were found to be much more economical than steam or motor vehicles for short journeys between its depositories and its clients' homes in the West End. Both horse-drawn and steam pantechnicons disappeared after the war.

The company still exist today. It is still a family business and trades under the name Bishop's Move.

Location: Cambridge Street / Pictures taken in November 2012

Thursday, 22 November 2012

W. Mulliner & Sons, Wandsworth

W. Mulliner & Sons was a small building firm based in Wandsworth in the early 20th century.

In its issue from 15 August 1868, The Economist announced that W. Mulliner, builder's foreman from Wandsworth, had been declared bankrupt.

However, since the firm W. Mulliner & Sons appears in specialized journals published nearly 50 years later, one can wonder whether it was him or a relative with the same initial who set it up.

Apart from the name of the company, this ghost sign has faded too much to be able to decipher anything else. Traces of letters still visible here and there indicate that two signs at least were painted, both possibly for W. Mulliner & Sons since nothing overlaps the firm's name.

W. Mulliner & Sons

Location: St Ann's Hill / Pictures taken in March 2010 and July 2012

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Plywood importers, Bethnal Green

Even though the name of these plywood, and most certainly veneer, importers does not appear on this ghost sign, it can be identified as being that of Reuben Bros. I have not found when this firm was founded but it may not have been before the 1910s as, according to Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, the word 'plywood' was first recorded in 1907.

The firm originally consisted of a partnership between two Reuben brothers but on 31 December 1937, The London Gazette published the following notice:

NOTICE is hereby given that the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us, the undersigned Hyman Reuben of 72 The Avenue Brondesbury London N.W. and Julius Joseph Reuben of 226 Watford Way Hendon Middlesex carrying on business as Plywood and Veneer Importers, at 390 Hackney Road London, E.2, under the style or firm of REUBEN BROS, has been dissolved by mutual consent as from the 24th day of December 1937-—Dated this 28th day of December 1937.

Even though the partnership between the Reuben brothers came to an end in 1937, Hyman Reuben continued trading under the name Reuben Bros at 390, Hackney Road for 14 more years. As for his brother Julius Joseph Reuben, he set up a limited company with addresses at 311, Euston Road and 66, Warren Street. Other members of the family also became plywood merchants, trading from a variety of addresses in central London and Hackney according to various editions of The Timber Trades Journal and Saw-mill Advertiser from the 1940s and early 1950s.

However in late 1950 or early 1951 Hyman Reuben presented a petition for the winding up of Reuben Bros. It was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on 14 January 1951. A few months later, S. Fisher Ltd, radio and television cabinets maker moved into the premises.

Ply-wood &

There is something curious about this ghost sign. Indeed, why were the upper and lower parts left intact when the central part, which certainly featured the word "veneer", was painted over?

Location: Hackney Road / Pictures taken in March 2012

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Crick's Corner, Highgate

What could have been available at Crick's Corner? Why was only the lower part of this ghost sign painted over? Why was a rectangle painted black? Unfortunately, with the original sign now covered by at least two coats of paint, only very few traces of letters can be seen. Certainly not enough to be able to come up with some words. Perhaps if the sun is at a particular angle more could be seen?

Still, thanks to some documents available online, it appears that in the 1920s (and certainly before) this was Albert Crick's bookshop and lending library. Indeed, in 1920, several acrimonious letters were exchanged between A. Crick and an anonymous contributor in the pages of The Publishers' Circular and Booksellers' Record of British and Foreign Literature regarding financial aspects of the bookselling business, and in particular the generation of profit.

Copies from 1937 of the same trade journal also show that by then Albert Crick also owned Crick's Library at 11a, Swains Lane. Notices published that year indicate he was selling ex-library books withdrawn from circulation. His main address remained 80, Dartmouth Park Hill though.

This second shop was still open in 1950 according to Clegg's International Directory of the World's Book Trade but there is no mention of it after that date. As for the original Crick's Corner, it is last mentioned in 1937.

Crick's Corner

Location: Bickerton Road / Pictures taken in November 2012

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Nestle's Milk, Clapham (update)

Three months ago I posted some pictures of the Nestlé ghost sign near Wandsworth Road train station taken after the hoarding that covered part of it had been removed.

If I mention this ghost sign again, it is because a new hoarding has been recently put up on the wall. And this time it is a much larger one, that hides most of the lower half. Shame really!

For more information about this ghost sign, please check the original post.

Location: Killyon Road / Picture taken in July 2012