Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Lift up to open

Tempting sign on a lever in an old train carriage on display at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Soap Street sign

Fine ghost sign in Soap Street in Manchester's Northern Quarter. If you're in the area, I recommend breakfast at Trof.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

With thanks to Mrs J Pogson

Signs bearing the names of Mrs J Pogson, Mrs S Shore, Mrs Joseph Warburton and others decorate the Bethesda Primitive Methodist Chapel in Heaton Norris, Stockport. A handsome building, the Chapel was founded in 1890 and is now dedicated to commercial use. I'm not sure whether Mrs J Pogson would have approved. Apparently the primitive Methodists were successful in evangelising industrial communities in the late 19th century - and Stockport was famous for its textile mills and hatmaking.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Steam bakery

The perils of being a small blogger on a busy road - this was the only angle I could get on this sign, but there's a pleasing reflection of a crane as a bonus. This is, as the sign says, the Queensland Steam Bakery in St Mary's, Southampton. It's been trading for 120 years and the company is still going - now called Marybake.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Insert hairdresser pun here

Ash hair in Heaton Moor is showing promising signs of adding a bit of fun to the neighbourhood. Its sign is made of old saws, the reception desk is a mini car and there's a mirror made of an old bath. Oh, and I believe the hair styling is pretty good too.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

It's Paramount

I was very excited to spot this Paramount Pictures sign in Fraser Street, Liverpool. Sadly dilapidated, the building is an old distribution centre for Paramount films, built in 1927.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Love Liverpool

Great little sign / street art / graffiti (whatever your view, take your pick). Love Liverpool. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Common people too

Continuing the Common people theme, here's a sign spotted by my lovely cousin, which he's dubbed "social engineering in Southampton". All aboard?

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Common people

This sign is on the Avenue in Southampton, a city with some glorious parks right in its centre, and the fantastic Southampton Common just to the north. It was declared common land in the 13th century when the borough bought the land and allowed neighbours to use it for fuel, clay and foraging for food. It was also used for grazing, and the Cowherds Inn today is a reminder of the cowherd who was once paid to look after the cattle on the common. With trees, grass, ponds and play areas, the ancient green space became a public park in 1844.

My primary school was on the edge of the common, with playground boundaries marked by oak, ash and hawthorns, and sports day on a strip of common land grass. This idyllic playtime came to an abrupt end in the 1970s when we were moved to a new building with a tarmac playground surrounded by a wire mesh fence like a cage.

The Common is still in good use by the citizens of Southampton. There’s a wildlife centre, boating lake and paddling pool, and it hosts charity runs, fairs and music festivals.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Queen Victoria makes her mark

Victoria Regina (Queen Victoria) sign at Arbor Low neolithic henge in Derbyshire. The posts mark the protected area of the henge. Arbor Low is magnificent, windswept and atmospheric - one of my favourite places.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Please don't teleport at Stockport station

Another good sign from Virgin Trains. Am only slightly disappointed about the teleporting - I'm sure there will be an app for that soon.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sign of the times

Unpleasant sign in Southampton, in a little lane that would pretty if anyone could be bothered. Apologies for the blurry photo - you can understand that I didn't want to hang around too long.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Dreaming of summer

I really rather like this thoughtful sign at B&Q, urging us to dream of summer - in case the real thing doesn't actually materialise.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

First Street

Attractive sign for First Street, the new city centre neighbourhood in Manchester. The cut-outs allow you to glimpse the activity behind the metal sheeting, which has been decorated by summer rain.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Out and about

I've blogged before about the superb Victoria Baths in Manchester. A temple to exercise and cleanliness, the building is an orgy of green tiles and stained glass. To my delight, the last time I visited (to go to the excellent vintage fair) they had opened up some rooms I'd not seen before. This sign is on the door from the gentleman's first class pool (there were two classes of pool for the men - just one for the women!) 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Oh for the South Seas

This is one of my favourite plates. I love it for the sign alone. It’s gloriously joyful and brings a little bit of sunshine into the 1950s.

James Meakin set up his Staffordshire pottery in 1845 and his sons, J&G (James and George) took over in 1851. By the 1950s, it was producing new American-inspired shapes, and this Studio Ware style was in production from 1957-69. 

For once, my shaky hand isn’t to blame for the blurry photo – the mark is actually like that on the plate. The colour is hard to reproduce -  it’s really a sharp, fresh, bright lime green, which means not all food looks appetising on it. But it’s more fun to turn it upside down and enjoy its palm tree mark. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Lost gardens of Manchester

We stumbled upon a floral oasis in central Manchester today. The art gallery and the National Trust have teamed up to tell the story of Manchester's lost public gardens, and to give us a new one (complete with bird soundscape and mock vintage signs). Wonderful!


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Another tradesmen's entrance

I've pounded the streets of London looking for a gate with a sign saying "Servants". I've failed, so if you know the location of one I could photograph, please say. As consolation, I thought I'd share with you this very smart Tradesmen's entrance (no sniggering please) in Princelet Street, Spitalfields. It's a great area for ghost signs and Georgian architecture, so a walk is rewarding for sign hunters.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Romance in Reykjavik

You need your gloves in Iceland: it's cold. I spotted this sign, with its artistic display of lost gloves, in the centre of Reykjavik.

It seems to capture the underplayed, knowing humour and phlegmatic stoicism of the Icelanders.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Put a spring in your step

This pretty London mosaic door step sign always cheers me up. The White Hall Hotel, somewhat confusingly, is nowhere near Whitehall. It’s a Georgian townhouse hotel in Montague Street, Bloomsbury, and a very good place to stay.

Monday, 25 May 2015

North Euston (plus a secret in a shed)

Users of London Euston station might be surprised to hear that there is a North Euston too – 250 miles away.

North Euston is in Fleetwood, Lancashire. A friendly place with an interesting story, Fleetwood was the first Victorian planned town. It was designed by Decimus Burton (so named because he was the 10th child) for Peter Hesketh, an MP and estate owner with big ideas.

Hesketh saw that Fleetwood could make a successful port and a holiday resort for working families, and set about making his vision a reality. At the time, there was no rail link between London and Scotland, so he put his energies into creating a rail link to Fleetwood from Preston, enabling passengers to make the final leg of the journey by sea from Fleetwood. Fleetwood’s first buildings were started in 1836, along with its railway, and the North Euston Hotel, facing the waterfront, was built in 1841.

Queen Victoria used the rail link in 1847. To welcome her, the council lit all the gas lamps, but they ran out of gas before the Queen arrived. Hesketh’s dreams of commercial success were ruined a few years later when the rail link from London to Scotland was built over Shap Fell (an engineering feat that had been considered impossible), making Fleetwood’s role of transport terminus redundant.

The oldest building in town is the Fleetwood Museum, which has also been a custom house, town hall and hotel. With lovely staff, great cake and a secret in a shed (I’m not spoiling it for you – you need to go and discover it for yourself), the museum is worth a visit; follow it up with a gusty walk on Fleetwood’s seafront and remember the pioneering Victorian with the big idea.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

The middle way

When in London, have the courage to veer off the main streets and into the little alleyways and narrow lanes. You’ll be rewarded with some of the more interesting sights of the city.

Middle Temple Lane is just off the Strand, where it meets Fleet Street. It is one of London’s four inns of court. Nip down here and you feel you’re in a different century. It was the home of the Knights Templar, those medieval crusaders. Set up as hostels and schools for lawyers in the 13th century, Middle Temple now houses barristers’ offices (or chambers). Worth a visit for its picturesque cobbled lanes, gardens and church.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

No tractors on weekdays

Welcome to Reykjavik. Cool, happy and peaceful, Reykjavik will only tolerate tractors on its main road outside of rush hour, thank you. The ring road around Iceland connects all its main inhabited areas. It was completed in 1974 – before that, going by sea was the way to reach other parts of the island.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Up a back passage

Well, it made me smile. Humble sign in an unprepossessing alleyway in an otherwise charming West Didsbury, Manchester.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Ghostly plumber

This great ghost sign in Liverpool city centre is at the junction of Knight Street and Roscoe Street. It advertises a plumber, painter and general contractor. A bit of research reveals that Joseph Glover was a certified plumber at 39 Knight Street in 1897; he also appears in the 1901 census at the same address. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Horse and motor contractor

I couldn’t resist featuring this old sign just off Great Ormond Street, London. Although much photographed and written about, not least by the excellent Caroline's Miscellany blog, there doesn’t seem to be much information to shine a light on G Bailey & Sons Horse and Motor Contractors, which was wound up in 1951. Intriguingly, a new company of the same name was registered in 2013 (classified as “Media representation services”) so the name may live again. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

In at the deep end

This sign is at the luscious Victoria Baths in Hathersage Road, Manchester. Opened in 1906, the baths are a sumptuous celebration of public bathing. With three swimming pools, a Turkish bath, slipper baths and a laundry, the facilities were described at the time as the most splendid in the country.

Victoria Baths closed in 1993, and a gutsy restoration campaign has worked hard to get the building open and to restore the glory of the stained glass, mosaic floors, terracotta and tiles that make it so gorgeous.

If you’ve not yet visited, you’ve probably seen it without realising, as the Baths have often starred as a TV location (Life on Mars,  Floggit, Antiques Roadshow and Peaky Blinders to name a few). They run an imaginative programme of arts events, open days and vintage fairs – but it’s worth a visit for the tiles alone. Find out more here.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Eagle eye view

The eagle that tops this warehouse at 88-90 French Street, Southampton, gets a great view of the old part of the city. Handy for the docks, the grade II listed building dates to 1903 and was a warehouse for May & Wade, export grocers and shipping contractors, as the sign proclaims. Since 1983 it has been used by the council as the archaeology department’s store, which may explain the good condition of the ghost sign.