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28 November 2023

Ghostsign for Hackney Empire in Dalston

Out for a wander up Kingsland Road and Dalston High Street this past weekend and I checked up on a few old friends. Specifically, a couple of ghostsigns that face each other near the junction with Englefield Rd.   

The palimpsest on the side of No.474 is well known, shown here as screen grab from Google Streetview. It shows ads for Gillette safety razors, the Sunday Illustrated newspaper, a cafe, and more as yet undeciphered.

But there's another sign on the other side of the road that has intrigued me since I first started taking photos of these things. It's on the north side of the KTS's corner shop at No.415-417, a joy in itself! The hand-painted sign here often goes unnoticed being as a marvellous tree obscures it for most of the year (Google snapshot below is from here).

Being north-facing, only the very top of the sign has been affected by the weather, leaving blue letters at the middle and bottom that were always to me intriguing but difficult to decipher. I'd often assumed that the sign was simply an ad for a bygone business at that corner. I'd take some snaps and say to myself, "I must get the old directories out and look into this one when I get home"... but then I'd get distracted by something else. 

Well, ta-da! – I've finally had a better look at it. The first pic shows a fair representation of the light available from the street on Saturday at approx 3pm 25th Nov 2023, and the pic on the right, taken by standing on the front path of one of the houses adjacent to the sign gives a straight-on view. My original pic was dark and gloomy, but with a simple but of photo enhancement, beefing up the contrast and colour balance (whilst on the bus home, no less! duh! why had this taken me song long?!) it's now clear that the signs reads:


I am pretty sure that the top faded part alluded to the Hackney Empire, about a mile away due east in Mare Street quickly accessible via Richmond Rd. Indeed, the Our History part of the theatre's website shows this old pic of the building with a similar sign on the side.

If only all ghostsign sleuthing was this easy!

Other signs for 

27 November 2023

More remnants of wood blocks – Old Street and Woolwich

Here are two more roads where I have seen woodblocks in man hole covers within the street.

First to Old Street. There is one outside No.1 on the north side at the junction with Goswell Road. There's only a teensy tiny bit of wood visible but, if the Islington ones are indicative of hoe today's road surfaces will erode, we'll hopefully see more of this one in due course:

And there's another one east of there. You'll find it on the other side of the road within the bus lane outdide No.134. Tho this one doesn't look like it will be there much longer – the road is in a poor state and the man hole is sunken, so I rather assume that the next re-surfacing may well see this man hole disappear:

My pics are the ones where the wood blocks are wet. Top left pic shows the view looking west past St Lukes (you can just see its spire above the trees). The fourth image, bottom right, was sent to me by Dave Brown who alerted me to this in 2021, and shows the blocks dry. 

Next, across the river to Woolwich. I was strolling along Powis Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, when I spotted this one outside No.29-31:

There are bound to be others in the Woolwich area, so I will be back on a wood blocks hunt there soon. 

Do let me know if you've seen others – my A-Z of London wood blocks can be found here

7 November 2023

Patterns in the pavement

This can be filed in the box called 'little things that please me'.

Walking along Lower Thames Street, at the junction with St Mary-at-Hill, I noticed some markings in the pavement that, at first perplexed me:

Ooh – circles and squares in patterns – my kind of thing, here in what looked at fisrt glance to be a variety of designs, some with borders, some with alternating circles, some more grid-like.

And then it dawned on me that these are simply the marks left by the bottom of scaffold poles where the soft surface, possibly warmed in the summer sunshine, this being south-facing, has taken on the pattern of the bottoms of the square footers, or whatever they are called as there's probably a specific name for these things.