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22 December 2008

A seasonal christmas card quiz

Here's my 12 loosely-themed (London) pubs of Christmas, 2008.
If you can recognise any of them then please do get in touch with me at the address above left.
Eat, drink and get merry!
If anyone would like to buy some of these Christmas cards, then please do get in touch.
Inside reads, Eat, drink and get merry.

20 December 2008

Pointing the way to go

Every now and then I find an old sign with a strangely-shaped pointing hand on it. Some of these manicules are very odd indeed. A friend pointed out(!) to me that one of the ones below looks like a pair of long johns!

11 December 2008

More bootscrapers of central London

Well, I thought I'd seen more or less every kind of boot scraper there could be, but walking through Temple, St. James' and Belgravia during the past week I have found lots more really good ones. Some of the Temple ones, shown here in the top two rows, are so simple and understated; almost like they are only half there as they disappear into walls. Along Whitehall I found a pair either side of the doorway to The Parliamentary Counsel that, unusually, face the street rather than each other. But then again, if they were perpendicular to the wall then people would trip over them. There must have been H&S reps even in those days! I am particularly fond (fond? bootscraperspotteritis setting in here) of the curved corner versions, and the really simple straight ones like the dark one on the bottom row, which can be found just off Belgrave Square.

8 December 2008

More coal holes

I have found some more good ones over the past few months. And all fairly central. One even has a key hole in it which, I suppose, means it wasn't self-locking like a lot of the others. I must find out how the coalmen opened and lifted these lids, especially the self-locking ones. Perhaps they had huge magnets or special crowbar-type things? If anyone knows please do let me know.
See my constantly-expanding collection of London coal hole cover plates here.

Click here to read Yelfy's research about Hayward Brothers.

And here are some wonderfully different and colourful coal holes from the North of England.

4 December 2008

Comments are now enabled under each posting

What a muppet I have been. Thanks to Nick pointing out that I hadn't enabled comments I have this morning been through and clicked all the relevant boxes. Thanks Nick.

26 November 2008

Overheard on a 254 bus to Aldgate

There I was sitting on the bus admiring the view when I overheard the fella behind me say to his girlfriend(?) "Ooh look Ghost Pubs... that's the Nag's Head". How amazing! They were reading my article in Time Out and commenting on it less than a yard away from me. I couldn't contain my excitement and said "Excuse me, I wrote that; that's me!". And then we chatted about the general subject all the way along Mare Street to when they got off at Bethnal Green tube. Really nice people. I hope they get in touch.

24 November 2008

Street Art

I thought I'd better include on here a collection of some of my favourite pieces of street art. It's especially important as the image here top left is my most viewed photo on Flickr. I did speak to the artist who creates these wonderful stick people in Dalston Lane just after he'd finished creating this family group. He saw me taking the photo and came over to ask if I liked it. Well, yes! I have been kicking myself ever since that I didn't ask his name. The piece has been 95% obliterated now. I haven't discovered who does most of the others except the ones by Anthony Lister who kindly signs his macarbre cartoon faces. And as for the four on the bottom row, I am sure everyone has spotted one of these vividly-coloured Bortusk Leer designs somewhere in London as there are loads of them around. Just keep 'em peeled...

21 November 2008

Time Out 20th November 2008

So here it is... a scan of page 12 of this week's Time Out.
I must admit it brought a huge smile to my face.
Hope they contact me to do more.

9 November 2008


I have just realised that in amongst my photos of London's interesting metal things there are quite a few that are to do with fire, such as badges, bells and hydrant markers.
See these on Flickr

4 November 2008

Doors and windows

This collection of fixing and furniture for doors and windows is starting to look really lovely as a group of thumbnails. Hand-shape door knockers and lion door knobs. I particularly like the little window shutter devices, most of which I found around the Spitalfields area. Shown below are some that depict little people and another one that, to me, looks like a parrot!

29 October 2008

Time Out feature

This week I have been contacted by Peter Watts at Time Out who wants to run a feature in the Big Smoke section of the magazine using some of my pub pictures. How exciting! It's a strand I'd dropped for a while in favour of other things but now my mind is buzzing remembering all the buildings I've seen and haven't snapped. It's gonna be hard to choose just ten different ones for him to use. Watch this space....

7 October 2008

62 more London ghost signs

Here are lots more. As there are so many of them this time around please visit my Flickr set for more info.

Coal holes

Here is my collection so far. All of them are different.
To get a closer look at each one please go to Flickr

Click here to read Yelfy's research about Hayward Brothers.

5 September 2008

Boot scrapers – ooh, the diversity

There may be hundreds of different kinds of boot scrapers out there but, so far, I can only identify six different ways of fixing them.
Reading clockwise from top left:
Recessed; Step-mounted; Gate post; Free-standing; Railings-mounted flush; Railings mounted proud.
The free-standing and railings-mounted types seem to have been more favoured in the central London area. Islington, however, is littered with the gate-mounted types which seems a better idea to me, keeping the mud and mess further from the front door.
The two pics at bottom left show that many houses or establishments had two or more outside the door. Shown here is a row of houses on Bedford Square, each house having one each side of the door and, just around the corner in Bloomsbury Street near the British Museum, two side-by-side which have another matching pair sitting opposite them across the path.

I have also noticed that there aren't many large houses or mansions with boot scrapers. Perhaps the people who lived there didn't need them as they didn't travel around on foot and used carriages instead.... but what about the servants? I will keep looking.

18 August 2008

Boot scrapers

A short while ago I was invited to join the 'Boot Scrapers of London' group on Flickr. I had noticed lots of them in and around Central London but thought they were all too similar and I had enough things to photograph as it was! But I joined the group pool anyway, and now I have gone boot scraper mad having discovered that there are so many different types out there. All of these have been taken on three occasions in the first 2 weeks of August 2008 in Camden, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Bloomsbury and Canonbury.
To see any of the individual photos at a larger size please go to my Boot scrapers set at Flickr.

7 August 2008

More doorway mosaics

Here are some more in north and central London.
Some are beautiful and others have been sadly neglected and/or mistreated. The triangular one in the second row has been carefully preserved for decades as the last remnant of a shop that was bombed out in WW2.

Doorway mosaics with letters or words

All but one of the above are in central London.
Despite my comment in an earlier posting that contemporary companies are no good at this type of thing, Fopp seems to have proved me wrong!

Doorway mosaics of Upper Street, N1

Here are some close-up shots of three of my favourite shop doorways in Upper Street, Islington, London, N1. Full images of these can be found in my last posting on this subject.

29 July 2008

More Islington ghost signs

More Streetname signs

Here are some more street name signs; all different.
Row 1: St John's Way, N19, used to be St John's Road (what was the point of THAT?!); the top end of St, Pancras Way, NW1, used to be known as Kings Road; a painted sign for Southampton Road, NW5, showing the use of red paint for the postcode; Aquinas Street, SE1, shows where the lettering was once painted in black and then over-painted in white.
Row 2: Both the Willoughby Road and Rosslyn Mews signs show how substitute tiles were used for various letters (Qs for Os and number tiles for word spaces). Perhaps they just ran out of the correct letter tiles? Intriguing. For more of these see; Moxon St, High Barnet, EN5, shows that years ago there were no postcodes being used at all and one can assume that at the time this was put up it was the only Moxon Street in the general area, indeed there are only five streets by that name in Great Britain even now; one of two signs here for Bloomsbury Square, WC1, this one has a partially rusty surround and fixings but I cannot decide whether it is an old sign (maybe 1920s or 30s) or a new sign has been put into an old mounting.
Row3: Wild Court, WC2, shows two different hand-painted signs, one with 'Borough of Holborn' in a sans typeface and the other with a serif face which makes it interesting for us now but I can never fathom why back then they didn't just accurately touch-up what was there rather than paint a new design almost over the top like a dodgy shadow; a hand-painted sign in Roupell St, SE1; a lovely metal sign in Hayles street, SE11, though I now wonder if it was blue enamel and has been painted over, so I must go and have a second look; a lovely cast metal sign for Bloomsbury Square, WC1.

15 July 2008

Doorway mosaics

Here are some of the pictures I have taken of the wonderful mosaic floors that can still be found at the entrances to old pubs and shops. Modern efforts at this kind of thing aren't ever up to this standard.

More photos like these can be found at

10 July 2008

Pubs with Original Names

Some pubs still use the same name that was embedded in the fabric of the original building in the form of lettering or a motif. Some of these motifs, as in the cases of the Yorkshire Grey and The Bull and Gate, are lovely.
Below is a selection of my favourites, so far...

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Ghost pubs – residential

There are lots of lovely old pubs that have closed down and been converted living accommodation. Pubs and bars are in decline these days probably due to the price of alcohol and the smoking ban. It’s much cheaper to buy your booze and fags at the supermarket and enjoy them at home. All rather ironic if your home is part of an old drinking establishment. There are far too many of these to take a photo of every one I see, so below is a just small selection some of which even have the old pub’s name still visible.

Row 1: An old Truman pub in Clarence Road, E5; Barnsbury Street, N1; Market Road, N7, The Lion, North Road, N7; Roman Way, N7.
Row 2: Bromley Arms, Cleveland Street, W1; Market Tavern, York Way, N7; The Tollington, Tollington Way, N7; The Rainbow, Liverpool Road, N1.
Row 3: The Falkland Arms, Falkland Road, NW5; Richmond Avenue, N1; The Montague Arms, Benwell Road, N7; The Rising Sun, Barnsbury, N1; Roman Way, N7.
Row 5: Southgate Arms, Southgate road, N1; Caledonian Road, N7; The Turks Head, Wapping, E1; The Builders Arms, St Paul’s Road, N1.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Ghost pubs

Many pubs have changed identity over the years but the ones I am particularly interested in are those that have the original name embedded in the fabric of the building, either as the name itself or a motif. Sometimes they are new pubs, but quite often another type of business has moved in downstairs, or the whole building has been converted into private homes. There are thousands of examples in London alone and shown below is just a selection.
Other pubs with historic value such as The Nag's Head, Holloway Road, N7 have no visual stamp on the pub to hint at their former identities, which is a shame. The Nag's Head was once the main pub of the area and lends its name to the local shopping centre. It is shown as a destination plate on LRT buses.
During the past 20 years the pub has changed owners and names a few times. In the 1990s for a short period it was The Mustang and then O’Neill’s took it over and gave it their nasty yellow and blue livery, complete with pretend post office. Then all the pub fittings were ripped out and for a while it become a shop selling household stuff like glass coffee tables and throws. These days, despite a campaign against the idea by local residents, it's an Agora gaming centre. But there's hardly ever anyone in there so I can only speculate that very soon a new name will appear over the door.
I find it all quite sad. But hey, perhaps it will return to being a pub one day...

Shown above is a selection of these 'ghost pubs'.
The current name or use in shown brackets.
Row 1: The Frying Pan, E1 (balti restaurant); The Queen’s Head, WC1 (empty); St Martin’s Tavern, NW1 (Kaz Kreol); The Nevill, N16 (residential); The Swan, E2 (grill); The Unicorn, N1 (Papa John’s pizzas).
Row 2: The Elephant (or Elephants’ Head?), E5 (Fitzgerald’s);
The Old Farm House, NW5 (O’Reilly’s); The Green Man, N1 (Nailworld); The Prince of Wales, NW1 (Positively 4th Street);
The Half Moon, N19 (The Quays).
Row 3: Princess Beatrice, NW1 (Tommy Flynn’s); The Anchor, N1 (Polsmak restaurant); The Hare and Hounds, N1 (Albert & Pearl); The Grafton Arms (The Swimmer); The Old Parrs Head, N1 (Jigsaw); The Wheatsheaf, W1 (Langoletto restaurant).
Row 4: Crown and Castle, E2 (noodle bar); The Three Wheatsheaves, N1 (The Outback); Hoxton Distillery, N1 (The Macbeth); The Robin Hood, W3 (Connolly’s); Cock Tavern, N19 (Nambucca);
Row 5: The Norfolk Arms, N19 (Chris Stevens DIY); The Spread Eagle, E9 (The Jackdaw & Stump); The Alexandra Coffee House, N19 (locksmiths); Royal George, N1 (The Bombay Bicycle Club); The Duke of Edinburgh, NW1 (Green Light pharmacy); The Griffin (?), E5 (Hackney Building & Plumbing Supplies).
Row 6: The Tam O’Shanter, WC2 (Scotch Steak House); The Duke of Sussex, N1 (Fredericks); The Weavers Arms, N16 (newsagent); The Huntingdon, N1 (empty); The Rainbow, N1 (private home); The Intrepid Fox, W1 (empty).
Row 7: An old Truman pub, E5 (residential); The Pembury Tavern E5 (residential); The Southgate Arms, N1 (residential) ; The Montague Arms, N7 (residential); The White Hart (empty).

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

3 July 2008

Streetnames – moulded

The one for Canterbury Road, N1, on the side of a pub in Balls Pond Road is particularly of interest because there is no road there at all these days.
Park Place on Liverpool Road and Clapton Pavement on Lower Clapton Road aren't relevant any more either.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Streetnames – Re-named

For some reason street names get changed.
But sometimes the previous name is still visible on an old sign.
Shown here are a few examples.

Clockwise from top left:
New Cavendish Street, W1, was Upper Marylebone Street; Bavaria Road, N19, was Blenheim Road; Keystone Crescent, N1, was Caledonian Crescent; Eburne Road, N7, was Grafton Road; in 1880 a stretch of Lower Clapton Road, E5, was Clapton Pavement; College Cross, N1 was (something) Street. I will look into the last one and see if I can source the previous name in full.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Streetnames – hand-painted

In some areas of London hand-painted street signs are regularly maintained but here’s a selection of some that have been neglected.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Streetnames – metal

It’s amazing how many different types of street signage there are out there. Here is just a small selection of the ones made in metal/enamel. I am particularly interested in the really old ones that only use a London area code, such as N or E and I have been fortunate to stumble across quite a few in the Lower Clapton area that have the old NE postal region on them. NE was phased out in 1866 when it became part of the E region as shown here by Sewdley St NE right next to Millfields Road E5. It is also interesting to note the changes in punctuation on these early NE signs; some have 2 full points (perhaps signifying a colon turned 90 degrees?), others have a full point and a comma (semi-colon?) and others just a comma, yet Clifden Rd has none of the above.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

21 June 2008

Ghost Signs – N1/Islington area

A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

Ghost Signs – Camden to Highgate

A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

Ghost Signs – Central London

By 'central' I mean within or close to the Circle Line

A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

Ghost Signs – Holloway area

A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

Ghost Signs - Stoke Newington area

A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

Ghost signs – North London

Miscellaneous signs found in Hampstead, West Hampstead, Crouch End, Stroud Green, Highbury and Finsbury Park
A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

20 June 2008

Hare & Hounds / Albert & Pearl ghost sign

One of my favourite local ghost signs in Islington, London N1, is on the side of what used to be The Hare and Hounds in Upper Street, advertising the garage run by S Wood & Son.
In recent years the pub was better known as The Medicine Bar. It has wonderful ornate windows at street level and a beautiful relief on the front showing dogs chasing a hare. The colour scheme was mainly cream with purple used to pick out the windows and frames.
Earlier this month I found that the pub had been given a facelift by the new owners, Albert & Pearl. The walls and the relief are now metallic grey and the frames are cream. They have also had their own name painted over the garage sign and added spotlights on the front and side of the building. Or perhaps this is only a dry-transer.
At first I thought this modern re-vamping of a ghost sign was a great idea as it has been thoughtfully and sympathetically achieved using the same colours and typefaces. Historically wall signs like this one have always been over-painted with different layers of advertisements; you can see that on the original sign that a second line of black type lettering had already been erased.
But the more I have been thinking about what has happened here, the more I am concerned for the future of the original sign, especially as it appears that the original S Wood & Son lettering has been scrubbed away to make the new name more legible. The original garage sign that has been there for decades may, in a few years’ time, disappear altogether because if Albert & Pearls’ business fails, some other company will take over the premises and, rather than have the previous occupier’s name on the side, may prefer to paint over it completely. If the old sign was still there a piece of history might have been preserved for a bit longer.
So fingers crossed Albert & Pearl… here’s to your success and prosperity…

A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

3 May 2008

London Ghost signs

These wonderful ghosted advertisements are mainly to be found on the sides of shops and buildings along old high streets. Here is just a small selection.

A larger collection of my photos of ghost signs, and other things that interest me, can be found at

Shown above are:
Gillette in Commercial Street E1;
Wootons Cash Chemist in Richmond Avenue N1;
tea rooms in Museum Street WC2, Bate's salve ('...cures wounds and sores' which overprints an earlier one for '...Kings citrate the original safe and best') in Regent Square WC1;
The front of a building owned by Miller Beale and Hider Ltd glazing contractor which appears to read 'builders...' over/under another sign I can't quite read in Greenland Road NW1 (I now have better photos of this building and will upload them soon);
Take Courage just west of Borough Market SE1;
Bernard' s mens hosier, hatter (and something else I can't make out) which overprints an earlier sign for P(?) Lewis in Brick Lane E1;
pianos and carpets just off Hornsey Road N7;
Boots in Camden High Street NW1 (you save vouchers by shopping at Boots);
upholsterer's sundries in great Eastern Street EC2;
Key Flats in Caledonian Road N7

2 May 2008

Architectural patterns

Patterns, shapes, colours, textures, reflections, geometry, and strange attempts at DIY

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Architectural motifs

The quirky details that make a building interesting. Again, these are all to be found along the A1 in Islington

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

London Looking up

Next time you are out shopping in Upper Street or Holloway stop staring at the pavement and look up for a change!

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Arhitectural lettering

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

London The Way We See It

This is a great website for photographers keen to get out and about with their cameras in our wonderful city. Each week a London street or location is nominated and we have 2 weeks to go there, take photos and then load up three of them onto the site. It's really interesting to see what other people notice and how they frame and compose their shots. I am really enjoying it. And it's good to have a hobby with a deadline! 

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

London's hidden shop signs

I was lucky to see these two old shops signs when they were uncovered during re-fits. The top four pictures show what is hidden at McDonald's 280 Holloway Road – W. B. Hallett, Fox & White, Auctioneers and Valuers. The bottom two pictures show that there was a shop called Davisons at 606 Holloway Road. I think I can also make out the word 'provisions' to the right.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

Islington Clocks

Some of these Islington clocks even tell the correct time!

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

1 May 2008

London's old pub signs

All of these old pub signs are along the A1 Holloway Road, Upper Street and Islington High Street. Some are now pubs by another name and others have become shops.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at

London's old shop signs

These can all be found along the A1 Holloway Road and Upper Street. Sadly all of these are gone but some beautiful glimpses remain.
If only today's shops could be a bit more creative with their signage and stop using those horrible back-lit bits of coloured perspex.

A larger collection of my photos can be found at