28 Ghost Signs From London’s Past You Can Still See Today

James Lewis has been pounding the streets of London to discover and document all the faded, forgotten signs that you probably hadn’t noticed.

1. “For your throat’s sake, smoke,” – cigarette advert on Brixton Road.

James Lewis / imgur.com

These photos were taken by James Lewis, a planetary geology PhD student at Imperial College, London.

He used to live in Brixton, where every day he would pass this sign. He tells BuzzFeed: “It was an interesting and slightly disturbing glimpse into the advertising and attitudes of the past. It’s faded quite heavily and I wondered how many other old signs told an interesting story but were rapidly disappearing.

“I started searching for other signs in mid 2013, I located them by walking around areas packed with the old brick buildings on which painted signs tend to have been preserved.”

The origin and history of many of the signs is obscure, with the full name of the shop of the brand having washed away after decades of rain, but for Lewis this is part of attraction:

“In a way that’s why I find them interesting, It’s a piece of history that will never be as glamorous or analysed to the level of the doings of monarchs, politicians or generals but they say a lot about the attitudes, designs and language of everyday people in the past. They also seem more tangible than a dusty relic in a museum.”

2. An advert for BP Energol, on Poland Street, Soho.

James Lewis / imgur.com

James says: “These adverts are quite hard to find as they’re just inside the entrance of a car park on Poland Street.”

3. Old shop sign for Donovan Bros, a paper bag seller, at the top of Crispin Street, Spitalfields.

James Lewis / i.imgur.com

4. Walker Bros. fountain pen shop, Stoke Newington High Street.

James Lewis / imgur.com

James Lewis

 

5. Criterion Matches, on Messina Avenue, off Kilburn High Road.

James Lewis / imgur.com

6. Advert for the Courage brewery, at the junction of Redcross Way and Park Street, near Borough Market.

James Lewis / imgur.com

7. Advert for Bovril, in Brixton’s Windrush Square.

James Lewis / imgur.com

8. “Scales, weights and weighing machines,” on Gray’s Inn Road, near Kings Cross.

James Lewis / imgur.com

9. Cedars Motor Engineering Company, on Cedars Road, near Clapham.

James Lewis / imgur.com

James Lewis

 

The sign says “Horses bought or sold. Horses and carriages jobbed for any period.”

10. Haberdashery on Bellgate Mews, near Hampstead Heath.

James Lewis / iimgur.com

11. A Salvation Army centre, at the junction of Old Street and Whitecross Street.

James Lewis / imgur.com

12. Cigarette advert on the side of flats in Dingley Road, Islington.

James Lewis / imgur.com

As James points out, this advert’s message appears to be: “You should only buy cigarettes from zombie cats with fine facial hair.”

13. A dispensing chemist, on the junction of Cloudesley Road and Thornhill Road.

James Lewis / imgur.com

14. Redfern’s Rubber Mats, on the corner of Lambourn Road and Wandsworth Road.

James Lewis / imgur.com

15. Robey & Co Ltd, on the junction of Tyssen Road and Stoke Newington High Street.

James Lewis / imgur.com

16. Advert for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), on Heath Hurst Road near Hampstead Heath.

James Lewis / imgur.com

17. Advert for Meggezones, “the cough healer”, on Noyna Road, near Tooting Bec Station.

James Lewis / imgur.com

18. The former Warings factory in Shepperton Road, Islington.

James Lewis / imgur.com

19. “Cures, wounds and sores,” on the side of a house in Regent Square.

James Lewis / imgur.com

20. An old estate agent on Heath Street, near Hampstead Heath.

James Lewis / imgur.com

21. Deane & Co. Chemists, on the Pavement next to Clapham Commons.

James Lewis / imgur.com.

22. The Monster Ready Made & Bespoke Clothing Establishment, on Borough High Street.

James Lewis / imgur.com

James Lewis / imgur.com

 

23. John Hawkins and Sons, cotton spinners, above a greengrocers in Stoke Newington.

James Lewis / imgur.com

James Lewis / imgur.com

 

24. Our Sons menswear shop, off Electric Avenue in Brixton.

James Lewis / imgur.com

25. Percy Dalton, nut importers and roasters, on Crispin Street, Spitalfields.

James Lewis / imgur.com

26. Windover Pianos, above a betting shop on Wandsworth High Street.

James Lewis / imgur.com

27. B. Flegg, saddler and harness maker, at Monmouth Street, south of Seven Dials.

James Lewis / imgur.com

Read more about the saddlers of Monmouth Street here.

28. And this helpful reminder in Great Guilford Street, Southwark.

James Lewis / imgur.com

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