12 May 2013

Local Listed Status for Hackney Ghost Signs

Fading hand-painted sign on a Hackney wall advertising Blooms Pianos
Photo: Ronnie Hackston / History of Advertising Trust

Love Local Landmarks, an English Heritage-backed project, has been successful in gaining local listing status for two of Hackney’s most famous ghostsigns. The Blooms Piano sign (above) and the Waterman’s Fountain Pen sign on Stoke Newington Church Street have both been recognised for their “Aesthetic or Artistic” merit, and also for their historical significance. The impact of this listing is that the Council must now “think about their heritage significance when considering planning applications that affect them”.

This a fascinating outcome and the first concrete evidence I have seen of ghostsigns in the UK being explicitly listed in this way. Previously ‘protection‘ has been indirect, for example the buildings in Bath and the rejection of a planning application to cover a ghostsign in South London. The fact that this has happened in Hackney is not entirely unexpected, given one councillor’s encouraging words back in 2007. (There is perhaps less optimism in Lambeth…)

This now sets some precedent for future efforts to list ghostsigns, although the next round of surveying in Hackney may not be for another ten years or more. It is therefore over to other boroughs, and places outside of London, to determine if this success for the protection ‘lobby’ can be replicated elsewhere.

The complete list of new additions shows that the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural in Dalston has also been added, while a discussion of the project in general can be found on this page from the Hackney Society’s Spaces publication. The Hackney Council website has more information about local listings.

I would like to thank Brian Longman of the Love Local Landmarks project for his support in keeping me informed of their progress and providing the background documentation in support of this blog post.

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