27 February 2023

Ghostsigns in Goldhawk Road, W12

Last week I wrote about a ghost sign in Uxbridge Road and said I'd find out more info about some of the others in that area.

Starting at Ravenscourt Park (western) end of Goldhawk Road, this Brymay matches sign on end of King's Parade, has seen better days. The pic to the right shows how it looked when I photographed it in 2008. There's only about half of it there now, thanks to the insertion of a multi-level extension, and what remains of the lettering is now rather faded. It makes a kind of top and tail with another Brymay sign on Shepherds Bush Green

But, not far away from there, I was extremely pleased to find that one of my favourite 'hidden' gems is still intact, albeit obscured by Melville Court and a large fir tree on the side of No.1 Cathnor Street. It is an ad for Herbert W. Dunphy, a local estate agent. It could be argued that this doesn't really qualify as a ghost sign being as his company is still trading today albeit with a slightly different name. 

The company1908 office was at 162 Goldhawk Road, and they later expanded into No.164 – see Google Streetview 2008. Today they're only at No 164 and if you look closely patches of paint there make it evident that the whole building was once covered with a painted advertisement. A modern banner affixed to the side shows the company today is 'Dunphy and Hayes'. I checked their website for more info... if you scroll down to the bottom here and read the small white text under the company logo, you'll see that they offer 'efficiant' and 'propfessional' services with 'qaulity' assurance. Oh dear! I wonder what Herbert would have made of that?!

Heading eastwards towards Shepherds Bush, there's another ghostsign, this time on the end of Goldolphin Road, on the side of No.152 Goldhawk Road. This, in the 1930s, was a colour merchant's shop, with Shaw Motors on the garden at the rear. Indeed, Dolphin Cars still trade out of that space. Try as I might, I really cannot fathom the lettering on the sign. There looks to have been at least two over-paintings, though I am sure I see 'THE' centred at the very top and 'LONDON' along the bottom edge. Ideas welcome. 

Note some gorgeous old shops on the opposite side of Godhawk Rd at 155-161, three of which retain curved window frames etc.   

And so back to Uxbridge Rd... 

Opposite the Player's cigarette ad, there is a tantalising glimpse of an ad under laters of white paint on an east-facing wall that has later been partly obscured by a building next door. With so little to go on, it's hard to ascertain whether this was a sign for a business at that location or a managed rental site. I haven't managed to decipher anything here as yet, except that there looks to be '...ES' about a third of the way down on the right edge. I wonder if this might have been an old Nestlé ad

As ever, any help or further info is always welcome. Please either use the comments facility or contact me at jane@janeslondon.com

26 February 2023

BBC TV Centre – tiletastic!

Last week I went with my friend to be part of the audience for a panel show recordingw. 

We arrived to find many hundreds of people… the queues were way too long. The organisers of these things always over subscribe due to the percentge of no-shows but I think in this instance they'd sent out the invites in triplicate. Whoops.

Never mind. There'll be other dates. Instead, we went for a walk around the marvellous building and the surrounding area. 

I really like the dirt green tiled walls with the contrasting scarlet red lines. Ooh. And the sculptures by Huxley Jones, especially Helios on a tall pole at the centre – check out his strange knobbly knees!

More info about the building and the artworks here

22 February 2023

Players Cigarettes Ghostsign near Shepherd's Bush Green

Isn't it strange how you can walk or drive up and down a road for decades, even go on many hunts for old signage and the like, yet never notice a something as big as this? Made worse when looking at retrospective Google streetview and finding out that this has always been visible. Doh! 

Perhaps it was always a dull day when I was sleuthing there in the past. I dunno. However, in this case, I do think the painted advertisement above Winkworths, has become a bit clearer of late, perhaps due to layers of grime having been gradually eroded by rain. Or, as I suspect by the evidence of recent repointing on this east-facing wall, perhaps it was given a clean before the application of new cement.

The advert is for packets of Player's Navy Cut Cigarettes 'Medium' created in 1945 and available until 1989. Local residents could have bought this brand of cigs at the tobacconist shop at the other end of this terrace where it meets Godolphin Road and then purchased throat lozenges from the chemist shop below the sign!

I've enhanced one of my images using Photoshop (above) and it helps us to understand how the sign might have looked when it was first painted, echoing the colours on the packets. Two sizes of packs are advertised: 10 for 6d (sixpence) and/or 20 for 11d, as shown top left and bottom right respectively. In the early days they also made packs of five!

This is the second time I have found something impressive, yet previously unnoticed, in Uxbridge Road recently (see here for a sign in Acton Vale). I've also found some others in the area which need some sleuthing so I will share those soon. 

3 February 2023

Impressive slabs of York Stone paving

Last September I wrote about the variety of coal hole cover plates in a specific area of Marylebone and within that I made mention of some very large pieces of York Stone paving in Balcombe Street that I estimated were about the size of a double bed:

I had wondered how on earth these heavy slabs had been transported and installed and, since then, I have I kept my eye open for more of the same. I found a few similar-sized examples in and around churches, specifically in Southwark Cathedral and at Bunhill Fields cemetery where the footpath through the centre is made from large York stone slabs of uniform size, each approx 2m x 1.2m. 

Then, whilst leading a walking tour through Central Avenue in Covent Garden market, shown here in this delightful screen grab from Google Streetview, I was talking to the group about how this avenue was originally built as trading outlets for the merchants here and, as I pointed out the lines on the floor that indicate the curtilage of each store (the line over which goods could not be placed otherwise they'd hinder through traffic) I happened to notice that the paving was again York Stone and that some of the slabs are EEE-normous! 

Indeed, one of the men in my tour group, a builder by profession, was just as impressed as I was and after the tour we returned there to better examine the stones. We discussed the hows and whys of installation in the 1820s when this market building was constructed (opened in May 1830). I haven't actually taken a tape measure to these slabs, but I reckon one of them is approx 3x2 meters in size (a little over 6x9ft) and therefore about twice the size of the ones in Bunhill Fields cemetery. It must weigh, oh I don't know, tons.

Go see for yourself and do get back to me if you have any further info or know about any similar large pieces.