6 November 2020

A ghostsign in New Southgate – 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.

(Monumental something?) CEMETERY OR BURIAL GROUND
(?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



  1. Dear Jane, I am Andrew King Lander’s great granddaughter. He built the houses you saw in Brunswick Park Road and, at the time, the Great Northern London Cemetery (now The New Southgate Cemetery) had two entrance gates, one of which was close to where the houses are situated and almost certainly why the advertising was on the wall. He also established A K Lander Memorial works in 1866, as you say, at 1 Friern Barnet Road. He had 3 sons who helped run the business but it was my grandfather, Albert King Lander, who finally inherited it and subsequently was passed onto my father, another Andrew King Lander. The business traded on its original site until the site was compulsory purchased by the council, at which time my father moved the works to the land he owned adjacent to the houses you saw on the site now occupied by the house to the left. My father continued to run the business until he was nearly 70 before selling it with the name as goodwill and died 40 years ago. The cemetery land surrounding the second entrance was sold for re-development and there is now a housing estate on this land. My great grandparents, grandparents and parents are interred at the cemetery, all in a row until they pulled down trees and squeezed extra graves in between. It was interesting to read your article. Thanks. Jacki.

  2. Dear Jacki, thanks for taking the time to add all this info. It's so nice when family members get in touch – the same happened with another old sign I wote about on here last month. Delightful.
    Ah yes, a second gate makes total sense, expecially for people travelling from the south. Do you have any pics of that or the house with the sign actually visible in its entirety?
    All the best, Jane

  3. Dear Jane, I only have a photo of the old works, which I did try to attach last time without success. I am not familiar with this site but if you want that photo and can talk me through how to attach it to a comment, I will have a go. Jacki.

  4. Thanks again Jacki, simply email it to me at jane@janeslondon.com and, as long as you are happy for me to add it here, I will do the rest as an Update section. Thanks in advance. I am quite excited to see it. Though it might be one of the pics in the link above (the Friern Barnet Photo Archive)?


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Thanks, Jane