1 February 2010

Ghost signs of Camden High Street

If you look up above the shops in Camden High Street you can see faded remnants of old signs painted directly onto the bricks between the windows of the upper floors. The classic one is the Boots sign, easily visible on the right as you look south from Camden Town tube station, but take a walk further down the hill and you'll find there are lots more.
The east side of the street, south of Lloyds Bank is particularly rich. Or should that be 'neglected', seeing as the reason these are probably still there is that the southern, Mornington Crescent, end of the street has been ignored over the years in favour of Parkway, the main Camden (Britannia) junction and the markets just to the north.
Boots sign at No.214; No.92's signs have been scrubbed away; No.84's panels remain but have been painted over; No.80... there are some letters still at the top, but I cannot make them out as yet; CS2 Art Shop at No.78 which only closed down about 5 years ago

Dining Rooms at No.40; Plumber at No.32; there just has to have been something on No.26, otherwise why bother to paint two storeys only?; I think it reads Decorator at No.24; No.s 20 and 22 have both also had the brown paint treatment; Makers & Repairers at No.18; very feint panels are all that's left at No.14.

From here turn towards Mornington Crescent station and just above it you can see a fab old advertisement for what appears to be a Jewish Breakfast food. I can't believe that I had never noticed this until last week! Though a friend suggests that the reason may be because the traffic goes in the wrong direction to view it. Sebastien's got some info on it here.
Another interesting building, which now houses Burger King is/was Bowman's department store. All the windows on the front of the building have decorative mosaic panels above them, but the ones on first floor are all individual and show what was in store and even the methods of transportation available. Note the random full points after some of the words.
See all the above Camden High Street pics individually here.
And whilst researching some of this I found some great comparison photos showing how much Camden has changed over years on Tim's myspace blog. I don't know Tim, but thanks Tim!


  1. Nice collection, I remember when I started out spotting ghostsigns me and my girlfriend came round the corner from Camden Road left onto Camden High Street. One of us spotted the Boots sign and then almost immediately the other saw the Miller, Beale & Hider sign which doesn't make it onto your collection here because it's not on the high street. All very exciting stuff in a train-spotter-type way.

  2. ...in a train-spotter-type of way?!!!!
    Coming from you that's rather amusing!

  3. What are you trying to say?

    Are you calling me a geek or something?

    Reckon my middle name's Anorak?

    That's it, me vs you at lunch tomorrow!

  4. There is quite a collection along (and around) Camden High Street indeed. I took some pictures of the sign above Mornigton Crescent station two years ago but didn't manage to identify the product in spite of the distinctive design of the box. Looking at old ads and packages of corn flakes, porridge and the like didn't give any result. Actually I was just about to post it on my blog and ask people for suggestions... Frustrating!

  5. Thanks Seb. I haven't been able to come up with anything so far either... I sent an email to the Museum of Brands and Advertising but have had no response. Perhaps HAT might know... A friend thinks it may be a box of Matzos but I think it's more likely to be oats of a kind.
    The quest goes on...

  6. Hi Jane,
    That's it! I finally managed to identify what's advertised on this wall: Creamed Barley, produced by George Clark & Son Limited. More at:

  7. Sebastian, you are amazing!
    Thanks... I have linked to your post here and under my Flickr photos of it.


Please note that comments are vetted by me personally to check for relevant content before they are published, so don't panic when your feedback isn't immediately visible.
If you write anything perceived to be an ad, spam or self promotion, your comment will be deleted and/or marked as spam/blocked.
Thanks, Jane