1. “For your throat’s sake, smoke,” – cigarette advert on Brixton Road.
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 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.
4. Walker Bros. fountain pen shop, Stoke Newington High Street.
5. Criterion Matches, on Messina Avenue, off Kilburn High Road.
6. Advert for the Courage brewery, at the junction of Redcross Way and Park Street, near Borough Market.
8. “Scales, weights and weighing machines,” on Gray’s Inn Road, near Kings Cross.
9. Cedars Motor Engineering Company, on Cedars Road, near Clapham.
The sign says “Horses bought or sold. Horses and carriages jobbed for any period.”
11. A Salvation Army centre, at the junction of Old Street and Whitecross Street.
12. Cigarette advert on the side of flats in Dingley Road, Islington.
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.
14. Redfern’s Rubber Mats, on the corner of Lambourn Road and Wandsworth Road.
15. Robey & Co Ltd, on the junction of Tyssen Road and Stoke Newington High Street.
16. Advert for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), on Heath Hurst Road near Hampstead Heath.
17. Advert for Meggezones, “the cough healer”, on Noyna Road, near Tooting Bec Station.
18. The former Warings factory in Shepperton Road, Islington.
19. “Cures, wounds and sores,” on the side of a house in Regent Square.
20. An old estate agent on Heath Street, near Hampstead Heath.
21. Deane & Co. Chemists, on the Pavement next to Clapham Commons.
22. The Monster Ready Made & Bespoke Clothing Establishment, on Borough High Street.
23. John Hawkins and Sons, cotton spinners, above a greengrocers in Stoke Newington.
24. Our Sons menswear shop, off Electric Avenue in Brixton.
25. Percy Dalton, nut importers and roasters, on Crispin Street, Spitalfields.
26. Windover Pianos, above a betting shop on Wandsworth High Street.
27. B. Flegg, saddler and harness maker, at Monmouth Street, south of Seven Dials.
Read more about the saddlers of Monmouth Street here.