29 Jun 2018

Bovril’s Windrush Square Legacy

Windrush Square in Brixton is home to this, one of the most famous ghost signs in London.

While the Bovril sign is still very prominent, less well known is that beneath it are the remains of what was once a painted advertisement for Butlin’s. While researching the Butlin’s sign, Roy Reed happened across this wonderful archival image, estimated to be 1930s, which shows that Bovril have a long legacy of advertising on this particular wall.

The photo is taken from this page of the Brixton Society website, which suggests that there are plans afoot to transform this wall in some way. This is set within the following notes.

Once a busily working area, it [Windrush Square] housed the bus garage (shown below [above]) where the Orange Luxury Coaches to Brighton left London, taking not only Brixtonians to the seaside. Rushcroft Road was still splitting the area right down the middle and on the left – not visible on the picture – were the elegant Tate Library Gardens gracing Brixton Oval just in front of the Library.


One detail you may still recognize on that picture, courtesy of Lambeth Landmark. The background to the bus garage environment was already known as the ‘Bovril wall’. Then as now, people were interested in prime advertising spaces. Faded with age, now a ghost sign, Bovril is towering above Windrush Square proudly facing the clock tower.

Clearly the distinct design of the Bovril signs show that it has existed in at least two guises over time. It’ll be interesting to see if the most recent of these survives the next phase in the lifecycle of this prominent Brixton wall…

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