15 Dec 2017

For Hire: Stunning Reveal near Columbia Road Market

Via Amanda Jacks on Twitter I was alerted to the reveal of this ghost sign near Columbia Road Market. It’s at the junction of Ravenscroft Street and Wellington Row. The text at the bottom is clearly ‘For Hire’ with the firm’s name being either O. or D. Leakin. (If anyone has street directories then feel free to add a comment, or send an email.) What sets this sign apart is the detailed illustration of a van in the middle portion. Pictorial work adds to the expense of sign work and so tends to be relatively rare. Most firms, especially local outfits such as this, would opt for lettering-only executions.

The sign sits on a curved chamfer (is there a better technical term for this architectural feature?) between two walls that feature fading fascia boards for the distinct, but potentially related, ‘Valet Service’. It is conceivable that the two layers of signage are connected, until a third piece is thrown into the mix.

This 2009 Google Street View shows that Princess Dry Cleaning/Launderette occupied the building until relatively recently. Given the ambiguity of ‘Valet Service’ it could relate to clothing or cars. The fading fascias revealed between 2009 and 2012 could therefore be related to Leakin or Princess. For the last 4-5 years they have existed in juxtaposition with the Priness Dry Cleaning sign as shown below in the most recent Google Street View.

With that last piece of mounted signage removed the shop has been stripped back to what seem to be the oldest layers of externally-visible commercial history. However, with works underway, and a hoarding up around the building, it is yet to be determined whether the developers have an eye for this sort of thing, and if they care enough to preserve this wonderful relic of historic transportation services…

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