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25 January 2023

Whitby's of Acton – a ghostsign for the garage

Aha! As I had suspected... the ghost sign facing East along The Vale in Acton, W3, that I alluded to a few weeks ago in my post about Christmas Day, is indeed advertising the services of a business further along the street. 

I messed about in Photoshop with one of my other images until I could make out the following:

[3 letters] PEOPLE
[rely on or similar?]

A quick Googlywoogle and I found this 1935 ad showing that Whitby's was a motorcycle dealership specialising in BSA bikes. 

A second bit of printed ephemera here shows that the building was adapted to how we see it today in a more Streamline Moderne style, complete with long horizontal windows and hexagonal corner turret and this is how it appears today. I have often made many mental notes to find out more, but never applied myself to the task until now and I am really glad to have discovered that it was indeed part of motoring history. 

However, I hadn't considered motor bikes and had long assumed that the building was previously a petrol station or a car showroom. Aha again. This is backed up by the Post Office listing for 1939 which shows, Whitby's of Acton, Motor Car Agents. At that time the company is also listed at No.7 The Vale here at the junction of Askew Rd, which I am assuming was the office for admin etc. 

I do love an old pre-WWII garage, especially those that were adapted or newly constructed at that time in what was to later be called the Art Deco style, the best known of which is the Daimler Garage in Bloomsbury

Back to the ghostsign... as regards the two layers of yellow and black paint peeking out at top left, I am doubtful that these allude to Whitby's, even though the first letter we can see is indeed a W, albeit lower case.  I think, judging by the style, it was more likely for a completely different company or brand, possibly a newspaper.,


  1. I worked at Whitbys in 1957-58. It was a motorcycle shop and showroom. They had BSA, Norton and Triumph dealerships also selling Messerschmidts and Heinkles . I was paid 3 pounds a week. It was my first job and I liked working there. Annie was the tea lady and lived nearby- she had a lovely dog who regularly crossed the road to Acton Park - so few cars on road at that time!

  2. Thanks for sharing you memories. I love that this was a happy place to work. I wonder happened to Annie?
    I've also written about other ghostsigns not too far from there – you might remember them when they were clearer....
    See here:
    and here:

  3. Whitby's actually used to have a dedicated spares and parts shops at 263 The Vale where this advert is, with the showroom further up the road at 273.


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