19 March 2019

Free apostrophes with covers and cases at Mr Panini's

How do people end up making the wrong decisions about apostrophes? For which they'd write apostrophe's. 
It's as if they pick up a few just in case and then see six words that end in a single letter s so they just chuck the little hooky things at the words and hope they attach themselves in the right places.
It reminds me that close to my home there is a Post Office with a cafe attached. Painted onto the window they have listed what's on offer; sandwiches, rolls and the like. But we locals call it Mr Panini's because that's what it says on the window.
For those of you who don't know, panini is already a plural word in Italian so adding an apostrophe and a letter s must in this case indicate possession, hence this must be Mr Panini's cafe.
So where was I?
Ah yes, a shop at the bend of Pancras Rd offering radiator covers and book cases with free apostrophes shown in the top two pics. But if you want a radiator cabinet you will have to go without.
Just to the left/south of this shop (Feb2019) there is a temporary toilet cubicle where you can also get an apostrophe fix.
For those of you who still haven't a clue where an apostrophe is needed, it is /it's* reasonably simple – stick one in where a letter or letters is/are missing or where someone owns the item to show possession. Plurals, as in the pics shown here, do not need them. More clarification here.
*not to be confused with the possessive its which has no apostrophe as in "the cat licked its lips"

Coming soon...
Spot the odd one out:
would not have / wouldn't have / wouldn't've / wouldn't of

12 March 2019

The Duchess of Kent

The pics below show an old Charringtons pub today standing empty on the corner of Carnegie Street and Charlotte between Barnard Park and Regent's Canal in Islington. Note the 1930s Georgian-esque architecture and their red Courage Best cockerel on the front.

Pubs of this type, faced in beige tiles at ground level, often also had panels for Toby Ale on them but I can see no evidence of that here. Instead we have some marvellous faded hanging portraits of the Duchess.

The sign faces east and west and seems to have faded to the same degree on both sides. I like it.
The Duchess appears to be strangely popular in Islington as there are are two more pubs bearing her name – one at 444 Liverpool Rd, and another at 72 Prebend Street where she can be seen sporting a marvellous wide-brimmed, feathered hat as shown here.

UPDATE – she could be an Irish connection – I read recently that The Duchhess Of Kent was the name of a ship that returned a famous Irish politician to these isles in the 19th century... I need to dig out more info and will update this when I find out more

5 March 2019

Flipped Pedim ghostsign in Upper Holloway

This has intrigued me for years:

In Tollington Way, Upper Holloway, N19, on the corner of Cornwallis Road, there was up until about ten years ago a fish and chip shop and restaurant. The building has subsequently been converted into residential use and all signs of battered cod and sausages have been removed.
However, above one window we can see the reversed print of a company name S. M. PEDIM which, judging by the letterform, looks Edwardian in style.
I would assume a sign with this name on it had been painted onto a piece of wood that was later reused; flipped and attached to a wet wall, therefore transferring the name onto the plasterwork.
I can find no evidence of anyone called Pedim in the reference I have to hand.
Any ideas? 

23 February 2019


At the pedestrian crossing that links Islington Central Library and St Mary Magdalene church on Holloway Road there are road markings. Or should that be ROADMARKINGS:

North East (library side)
South West (church side)

19 February 2019

Flippin letters!!

Across Islington, though I have seen it elsewhere too in the UK, there are metal signs created using single letters mostly arranged in an arch or spaced across a gate.
I would guesstimate that 10% of these signs have one or more of the letters within them flipped back to front.
Here are four prime examples:

As you can see, the confusion usually lies with the letters A, M, U, V, W and Y.
In my mind's eye I can see the person who was making this sitting there with a puzzled expression, holding up the letter, looking at it one way and then the other, rotating it, it flipping it, shrugging their shoulders and then... oops!
Most of these signs appear to use a similar serif font which means all the craftsman (if that's not too specific a word here) needs to do is consult that alphabet, or a similar cut, to double check before he/she starts welding.
Ah... but check out the image top right for Mayward House, Pentonville Rd – one maker just wasn't sure which way round to put the A on Mayward so gave us both options. Hey, I suppose it balances the flipped M and the flipped U in HOUSE (not shown). Note also the spectacular letter-spacing across MAYWARD – all-in-all this is a truly sublime example of this kind.
I also have some evidence of school gates with flipped letters. Yes, schools. I will dig those out and post them anothe rday.
In addition to flipped letters I have also spotted an error in a huge sign that runs across City and Islington College at the top end of Goswell Road near the Angel Islington road junction. As you can see the S is upsidedown – it's been rotated. Go check you Gill aphabet people the bowl at the top should be smaller than the bowl at the bottom. Stands to reason really. Otherwise, like here it becomes top heavy.

15 February 2019

City Road Basin looking North and South

This sign is opposite the end of City Road Basin and it bugs me every time I look at it because photographic devices like this are usually employed to highlight the change over time in one particular place.
However, here, the black and white left half is a historic view looking from City Rd across the basin north to St Mary's Islington, and the contemporary right hand side shows us the view from the towpath looking south.
Changing and regenerating?
More like misleading and confusing.

12 February 2019

Primrose Hill Beaches

Last month I put together a collection of coal hole cover plates that I'd snapped in Primrose Hill. I mentioned that one name was the most common here. I didn't actually compile a chart or count every plate I saw that day but I think I saw more for George Beach & Company of Camden Town than any other company.
Every area tells me the story about its local supplier. Sometimes a property developer will use a trusted supplier for his whole terrace (as per the line of Charles plates in my previous post) or they engage a local ironmonger. If plates need to be replaced at a later date then homeowners will have more than likely used they nearest local tradesman. And here that go-to supplier appears to have been Mr Beach.
Below are five different cover plates from this area and you can see how Beach's name and the designs have changed over time.

Sorry about the picture quality – these were taken late afternoon when the light was fast fading
I have attempted to put them onto chronological order (reading top row L-R and then bottom row).
Logic tells me that the one shown top left is the earliest – it has just the name and looks to be an adaptation of a simple design that seems to have been widely available as a sort of template/mould.
Then the second pic shows the name shows Geo as an abbreviation for George and the address at 167 High Street, Camden Town. This was next-door-but-one to The Black Cap public house. I can't actually date tit specifically but I would guess it's approx 1880s as by 1895 Geo Beach & Co Ltd is listed in the directories as being at 167-169 with a shoe shop also at No.169 intimating that Beach had also acquired premises at the rear.
The pics top right and bottom left are, I think, the same design, but one has lost its centre section. George is now using a pretty eight-pointed star motif which, again, is a common/standard design as it includes the words Patent Plate at the centre. Note also that the specific company address has been dropped from here onwards. And he's reverted to just the initial G for his first name.
Centre bottom has a less fussy star design but it shows that it is now a limited company as confirmed by my 1915 directory which also has the company listed as wholesale ironmongers at 63 Seymour Street. This is an up-market move as it's on a corner of the southern end Edgware* Road, a stone's throw from Marble Arch. Perhaps next time I am wandering in that area I might find some Beach cover plates showing that location.
The last pic is the most recent as it shows the addition of N.W.1. which is the area code for Camden. This numbering system was introduced in 1917.  Beach looks to have adapted the previous design here – a ring of dots replaces the word patent plate at the centre and eight ventilation holes have been added to allow for air to circulate in the coal bunker below.
Today 167-169 Camden High Street is home to the local branch of Carphone Warehouse. If you look up at the top edge of the building you will see a circular motif containing a shield with the cartouche PS or SP. I am still trying to find out who or what these initials signify. I am guessing this is the first owner of the building.

As ever, all contributions welcome via the comments section here or just email me: jane@janeslondon.com 

*sometimes written as Edgeware

5 February 2019

Marks and Spencer Holloway – update

Pic: January 2019
Last week I was really glad to find that my local M&S in Holloway is still open and trading despite reports last year saying it would close in Jan 2019. I wrote about that here.
As I used the checkout I chatted to the lady on the till and she told me this branch will still be open until at least May 2019. I understand that they can't close this one until the new premises is completed up at Archway.
I understand a branch of Lidl or Aldi is coming to this Holloway site – I am not sure if they plan to take the whole L-shape footprint but whatever happens, I hope they keep and maintain the marvellous 1930s frontage.

29 January 2019

Primrose Hill coal hole cover plates

Out wandering about in Primrose Hill the other week I noticed quite a few unusual names and designs on the coal hole cover plates embedded in the pavements there. Most cover plates have patterns on them to stop them from being slippery underfoot. Many just have patterns on them but canny ironmongers realised it was a good way to advertise themselves.
As you see these ironmongers are not all local to the area – Abbott of Great College St, West Bros of Marchmont St, Young of Davies St, Persons of Notting Hill, Watkins of Regents Park (the most local), Philp of Fitzroy Sq (oops, I now see I have put two of those in there!), Davies of Clapham &Camberwell, Ward of Edgeware Rd and Wood & Barrets of Tottenham Ct Rd. I didn't see any company names from addresses in Chalk Farm Road or Camden High Street, which seems odd.
The one I like best is the one that reads, Charles's Safety Plate, by patent act Vic, which I assume is a ref to Queen Victoria. This needs a bit of research. And also some better pics because the light was fading by the time I reached this terrace where almost every house had one of these outside.
Also notice the second pic which shows one of the Abbott covers embedded into two lovely pieces of Yorkstone. This is not the only cover I noticed where a feint keyhole or toilet bowl shape is evident around it. Does anyone know how/why this shape was made?
Another ironmonger, not shown in this collection, was repeated a lot in various different designs. I will post about that company sometime soon once I have put them into some kind of chronological order and done a bit of research.
See also the coal holes of Warwick Square and the contemporary ones in North Audley Street.

24 January 2019

Winter Lights at Canary Wharf until Saturday

Wrap up warm and get over to Canary Wharf to see the fabulous light installations dotted all around the area, both outdoors and in.
More info here.
Be sure to print out the map to be able to follow the route as it makes it so much simpler following the recommended trail.
Here's some pics from my visit two years ago

8 January 2019

Wassail... Wassail... here's to 2019...!!

This basically means drink a bowl or cup of mulled wine whilst cheering in the new year.
It's an old pagan festival thing.
My friend and I were luck to happen upon a troupe, if that's the right word, of mummers near Millennium Bridge on Sunday 6th Jan and so we stuck around near The Globe to see what might evolve. And I am so glad we did that.
A screenshot of images I found within The Lions part website
The Lions part put on a fab colourful Twelfth Night show and, just like those that would have been put on in George III's reign, it was satirical referencing the past year's events with a peppering of rude and lewd extras.
We then ended up getting caught up in the throng and 'danced' a farandelle through Southwark's riverside streets to end up The George Inn on Borough High Street.
What an absolute delight. Though I am not sure that drivers of the the cars who had to stop to let a long chain of people cross Borough High Street were that amused!
My prediction for next year is to go to wassailing again, tho this time I will have to tae a flask of warm alcohol as we got nary a sip.

What we did notice when watching the play was that in all the riverside flats above there were only two people at one balcony watching the show. I am pretty sure no-one was at home in all the other apartments. Does anyone actually live there? I suspect the owners just use these places as somewhere to crash mid-week.  
Let's raise a warming glass to happy new year...!!

2 January 2019

K2 and K6 phone boxes – conservation or dereliction?

Happy new year people ... here's to a marvellous 2019!

Tourists love 'em but the powers that be don't seem to give a wotsit!
K2 phone boxes are still a common sight on out high streets. But these and their successor, the slightly smaller K6, are falling into disrepair.
Most of us have mobiles/cellphones these days so there is scant need to utilise theses bright red icons anymore* but if they are to remain on our streets (and they should) then why are they in such poor condition? I mean, who is supposed to be managing and maintaining them**?

This thought popped into my head yesterday as I was passing Islington Central Library on Holloway Road. Contractors have recently been working behind scaffold and plastic sheeting giving the lovely 1906 building a clean but now the work has been completed I can see that the phone box on the corner is filthy! It already had some broken or missing window panes but just look at the state of it now...

As you can see it's covered in plaster splashes, muck and dirt, as is the pavement around it which forms part of the library's curtilage.
But it's not the only one that looks so bad. For instance, in Islington, there is another one in poor condition outside St Paul's church at the top end of Essex Road, and the pair outside Tesco on Islington Green are horribly neglected.
Yet in nearby Canonbury there are some glossy red well-painted examples such as this one outside The Canonbury Tavern. Why? Because this is a 'conservation area'.
So, this begs the question: "whose responsibility is it regarding the upkeep of these phone kiosks?". And who painted or gave authority to paint, the ones in Canonbury?  And if that is the body that owns them, why haven't all others been similarly maintained too? Why only conservation areas and tourist meccas?

* apart from advertising space for 'services' or as 'conveniences'

**(8thJan) I am now in the middle of an on-going email conversation with someone at BT about this – she as good as tells me they rely on the goodwill of the public to let them know when these kiosks need attention. i.e. they expect us to act as unpaid quality controllers or maintenance managers on their behalf.  This means they only fix the kiosks when it's pointed out that there is something wrong with them thusfurther enhancing BT's irresponsibility.
I will report back when I have more. Meanwhile, go paint your local kiosk any colour you would like, as I doubt BT will notice let alone care!