London’s Best Ghost Sign (And a New Book Cover)

Below you will find the official announcement of the result of our tongue-in-cheek twitter competition to identify the best ghost sign from the book. But first a short announcement regarding our fundraising on the book.

Exclusive kickstarter-only cover for Ghost Signs: A London Story

New Exclusive Kickstarter Cover

We are now in the closing stages of our kickstarter campaign. On Monday we will formally announce that there is going to be a second cover option (pictured) if we reach £30,000 in fundraising by the deadline of 4pm on Thursday. This is going to be exclusive to kickstarter backers who will be given the choice between this and the regular cover.

Winner: Peterkin Custard, Corner of St John’s Hill and Sangora Road, SW11 (Photo: Roy Reed)

Peterkin Crowned London’s Best Ghost Sign

The people have spoken, and this ghost sign for Peterkin Custard on St John’s Hill, Battersea, has been officially declared London’s best. It claimed the title after six gruelling rounds of knockout competition on Twitter, narrowly beating Bloom’s Pianos on Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, in the final.

Runner-Up: Bloom’s Pianos Kingsland Road, E2 (Photo: Roy Reed)
Third Place: Meggezones/Nettle’s Noyna Road, SW17 (Photo: Roy Reed)

Third place went to Meggezones on Noyna Road, Tooting, and over 5,000 votes were cast across the online event. I hosted the tournament as a bit of fun in the context of Ghost Signs: A London Story, published by Isola Press in November.

64 entrants were shortlisted for the competition from the 250 fading painted wall signs whose stories are told in the 320-page book.

The path to victory in the ‘ghost signs world cup’

My official organiser comment,

“It’s  a worthy winner and I bet the signwriter that painted it in 1920s would be proud to know it went on to great things. It advertised a range of products made at the Battersea Mills, and the company was once run by Joseph Arthur Rank, later of Rank Films fame. The sign is included on Wandsworth Council’s local heritage list, and so this charming Dutch boy in baggy trousers and clogs should keep on walking for years to come.”

Sam Roberts, tournament organiser

“These signs from yesteryear may be fading a little but they certainly add a  colourful touch to many neighbourhoods. This book features some of the  best surviving examples and gives an interesting insight into the shopping habits of our parents, grandparents and beyond. Hopefully it will encourage people to keep a lookout for these historical gems.”

The Mayor of Wandsworth, Cllr Richard Field

The Stories

For you as a patron, here is a bit more depth to the above official announcement, abridged from the stories of the runner-up and third place signs in the book.

Bloom’s Pianos

Kingsland Road E2 (adjacent to the Museum of the Home, formerly the Geffrye Museum)

Bloom was the adopted name of Russian immigrant and master cabinet maker Philip Blumhert who spent most of the 1930s trading here.

This sign has a little bit of everything: scale; illustration; confident language; elastic lettering; and the signwriter’s signature. It’s also in palimpsest, but the older layer is so far impossible to make out.

In 2012 the sign was added to the Local List at Hackney Council in recognition of its artistic and  aesthetic merit, and historical value. However, this hasn’t prevented the graffiti that is gradually creeping up the wall.

Bloom’s Pianos

For Perfection

Call or Write 134 Kingsland Rd

Phone Bishopsgate 9087

Howell Signs, Clerkenwell – 7275

Meggezones/Nettle’s

Noyna Road SW17 (corner of Upper Tooting Road)

William Nettle founded the chemists here and, although he died in 1900, the business is still trading today. The sign is ostensibly a privilege for Meggezones, but also advertised some of  Nettle’s own products on the same panel. The whitewashing of the per-bottle charges was presumably done because of price changes.

Buy Meggezones

For Coughs, Colds & Catarrh

Nettle’s “Tussodyne”

The Cough Healer

2/- Per Bottle 5/-

Nettle’s Tonic

The Best Pick-Me-Up

1/3 Per Bottle 3/3

Signing Off

Ghost Signs: A London Story can be ordered online via Isola Press.