24 July 2020

Deciphering a ghostsign in Petherton Road – Laundries and Landaulettes

Earlier week Sam Roberts contacted me to see if I could help with an enquiry he'd recieved about a faded sign near to the southern tip of Clissold Park.
Pic: Adam Broude
Adam Broude had been in touch to ask if anyone had further info about this sign at the western end of Leconfield Road. He'd managed to decipher a few words including 'General' and  'Landaulettes' so, having stood on that same spot a few weeks back, pondering the same, I thought I best get sleuthing.
Adam Broude had taken the pic below and managed to decipher a few words including  'General' and  'Landaulettes' and he wondered if there was any more info available.
I consulted a few old directories and decided we have two signs here; one for a company providing laundry and shirt mending facilities and a second ad for a company providing upmarket vehicles for hire. Landaulettes are coupé versions landaus often used by dignitaries etc.
As for deciphering the sign, the best I can see and guess at, so far, is:

GENERAL LA... [probably LAUNDRY] ..... 
(under the satellite dish, only odd letters distinguishable)... HIRE (?)
(a scrolly shape) then possibly LON[don?] 

Collar dressers were people who repaired shirts by mending or attaching new collars and cuffs. The 1882 directory shows Robert Ramsey, collar dresser, at 138 Petherton Rd, at the northern end of the street, so the relevance to this sign is doubtful.
By 1895 Ramsey has gone but another laundry has opened at the corner of Leconfield Road owned by William Charles Crooks, perfectly positioned to be relevant to this ghostsign. He was still trading from the same address until at least 1915 (I have no directories for the 1920s to hand). Around the corner, the 'London Shirt and Collar Dressing Company, laundry' is listed at 16 Green Lanes. There is a possibility that these two premises might have been part of the same company, one being a shop on the main drag and the other the actual laundry where the work was carried out.
By 1939, the laundry at the corner of Leconfield Rd has gone and another one has opened at No.128 (today=Mala) run by S&L Morris. Again, due to the distance from the ghostsign, I don't think this is the answer.
As regards car hire, I suggest the sign is for a motor company that would have been at 116 Petherton Rd which, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was a bicycle depot that later expanded to motorised vehicles. Today we can see a ghostsign for Barnes Motors at that address. In 1939, The Petherton Motor Works were at that location, though there are no laundries listed in the vicinity at that time.
Therefore I think the cars are the key to the date of the sign. Landaus were fashionable vehicles in the late 1920s/ early 1930s and this ties up with the laundry. 
Any further info is most welcome.

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Thanks, Jane