4 Jun 2014
Ghost Signs and Public Lettering in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter
On 21 May, before my Type Talk at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, I helped lead a walk through the city’s historic Jewellery Quarter. This was in collaboration with Geraldine Marshall of the Birmingham Graphic DNA Project, and focused on the ghostsigns and public lettering that can be found in the quarter. It was fascinating researching material from another city and I was struck by the number of recently repainted signs that we found there, some of dubious quality.
I have made the locations on the walk available via this Google Map. This also includes points of interest that we discovered along the way, or that I found on other trips to the quarter. This is by no means exhaustive but merely an indication of the rich material available within this relatively compact area of Birmingham. The photos are all available in this Flickr Album and I’ve included a handful of my favourites below. Thank you to Geoff Field, Jane Anderson and Caroline Bunford for your additional research input.
I hope to do the walk again in the future and perhaps add it to the walking tours I’m already running in London’s Stoke Newington. The two areas share a lot in both being conservations zones with listed buildings present. As with other places, such as Bath, I believe this has led to the inadvertent protection of many ghostsigns and other pieces of public lettering. I hope that many of these will survive the ongoing development happening in the Jewellery Quarter, and that any restorations will be done more sensitively than some of those we found along the way…