10 Feb 2024

A Curious Palimpsest: Foster Ltd in Bristol

In 2021/22, a billboard and fence came down on Hartcliffe Way in Bristol to reveal a ghost sign for Foster Ltd. Running vertically through the the middle of the wall is a thin vertical sliver where the Foster sign has been eroded, revealing fragments of an older sign.

Close-up photo of a portion of a wall with painted black and red lettering fading on a cream background. Running vertically down the middle of the ghost sign is a strip that has decayed a lot more revealing fragments of smaller lettering beneath the main sign.
Fragments of smaller lettering from an older sign visible between the left and right portions of the Foster Ltd ghost sign in Bristol. Photo: Tobias Newbigin.

The effect appears to have been caused by the removal of a drainpipe, or perhaps water running directly down this portion of the wall. This has resulted in a curious palimpsest, unlike any that I’ve noticed before.

Twin gable end of a building with fading lettering on the wall advertising a builders merchants called Foster. In the foreground is a cyclist passing the wall unaware of being captured in the photograph.
The full wall showing the shape of the section of older signage and the relationship with the drainage fixture. Photo: Tobias Newbigin.

I’ve not found any information about the Foster business itself, but the sign looks relatively modern. There is also a missing word on the final line—short, and beginning with an A—that I haven’t been able to make a good guess at… [Update: Karen Fletcher has suggested ‘Any’ which is a good fit and agrees with what’s visible on Streetview.]

Foster Ltd

Foster Ltd

Paving Slabs, Walling Stone

Sand, Chippings & Cement

Concrete & Breeze Blocks Etc

Any Quality Delivered

Hartcliffe Way, Bristol [Streetview, 2023]

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