gistofthegrist

one-off at the wrist

Ghost Signs

I have long wanted to do a Phyllis Pearsall and spend a year or more wandering London’s thoroughfares documenting [various items, which will be disclosed over subsequent Sunday posts]. The story of how the London A-Z came about [Pearsall single-handedly traversing and mapping 23,000 streets over 3 years] is most likely though a complete fabrication, a marketing ploy, nothing but an enduring urban myth.

Angel, 21 Church Street, West Ham. Rebuilt 1910. Closed since 2003.

One of the street features I am very interested in is old advertising signs handpainted directly onto the brickwork. Industrial archaeology if you will. I am very happy therefore to find that another aficionado has beat me to this particular documenting mission with the 2009/10 nationwide effort carried out with over 600 other enthusiasts to photograph, research and archive [housed at the History of Advertising Trust] the last survivors of this fading advertising medium. I have several local examples not featured which I will be submitting for inclusion in the database.

I guess perhaps my interest was starting at an early age? On the small street where I lived there was a sign painter that worked in his little garage that opened up directly onto the narrow pavement. I used to pass several times a week when sent to the local corner shop [less than 100 metres away] to get a pint of milk or the evening paper, and was always fascinating by the 3D effect shadowing, the highly ornate lettering, the smell of turpentine, the curious mahlstick.

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