6 November 2020

A ghostsign in New Soutgate – Lander, monumental mason

Last week I went to New Southgate Cemetery to find the grave of someone I am researching. I got the tube to Arnos Grove, one of Charles Holden's marvellous Art Deco masterpieces, and I headed north. As I walked north up Brunswick Road I mused how reasonably new the area was – it all looks to have been built in the late C19th and then added to in mid-C20th. 

See my warped and stretched version below
Then, as I crossed Marne Avenue, I noticed an unusual pair of stone-built houses opposite the junction. I stopped look at them, considering that they probably preceded all the other buildings in the vicinity and might at one time have been farm or workmens' buildings, or similar. I took a closer look and, well blow me down, if there isn't a huge hand-painted sign covering most of the north-facing/left side of number 94. Another house has been constructed to the left and, although this has helped to protect the sign's paintwork, it makes the sign really hard to read at this very oblique angle. 

Squinting at it, and no doubt looking like I was casing the joint, I could see a large name at the top: LANDER. Other words quickly led me to ascertain that this was a sign for a stone mason connected to the cemetery. I stood there for a while making scribbled notes as I tried to decipher the specific wording, but the angle and the faded areas at the very top and far left/rear made it rather difficult. It did cross my mind to knock on the door to speak to the occupants and ask for access to the rear but I hesitated, and if you don't do those kind of things immediately they just don't happen. 

Instead, I took a few snaps with my phone and carried on up to the cemetery where, snooping around the headstones and tomb bases, I found that many had Lander's mark on them, some showing that the company was mason for the local council (Barnet). Later, when I got home, I looked at my poor-quality pics and, holding my phone at different angles to achieve oblique views in the opposite dierection, I managed to decipher quite a bit of it.

EST
1860
A. K. LANDER
CEMETERY MASON
(Monumental something?) CEMETERY OR BURIAL GROUND
(...) UNITED KINGDOM. MEMORIALS CLEANED & REPAIRS
(...) ENGRAVED - ESTIMATES FREE. FOR DESIGNS &
(?prices please visit?) OFFICE & WORKS 1 FRIERN BARNET RD

A. K. (Andrew King) Lander was at 1 Friern Barnet Road, Betstyle Circus, known to locals as 'Lander's Corner', no doubt because the company's stone yard would have been a very recognisable local landmark – some of the hard-to-decipher parts of the ghostsign most likely make mention of the yard's location, just a little way to the south.  Friern Barnet Photo Archive has some marvellous old pictures of the business and the junction through the decades, including the one shown right. Today, the yard is long gone and block of flats now covers the site. In that link you'll notice that the name 'Lander's Corner' in on the first houses in Oakleigh Rd South opposite the site of the yard. I like to think the Lander family lived there. Perhaps someone will let me know.

Similarly, I do not know whether the family had a direct connection to the pair of old houses in Brunswick Park Road. The Landers might have simply hired the wall as advertising space being as it provides a perfect sightline from the cemetery where prospective clients might be choosing a burial plot or looking after a family memorial. A company by the same name still trades today but is based in Basildon Essex. Even though they make mention of being founded in 1866 I can see nothing on their site about Friern Barnet or Southgate. 

And the grave I was looking for? Well, it turns out I was looking in the wrong cemetery! Never mind – it was nice wandering around New Southgate Cemetery and, should you ever need to find information there yourself, the staff in the office are really helpful and friendly, and funny too. 

A little bitof Photoshop action here – the quality of the image isn't really good enough as regards the focus/sharpness at the left/rear

 

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Thanks, Jane