5 Apr 2024

J.C. Rogers’ Beautiful Fading Fascia in Penzance

The Penzance butchers J.C. Rogers commissioned a number of shopfronts across more than 40 years in business, with one of these surviving as a fading fascia on Causewayhead. Jon Herbert at Dollar Signs writes:

“I stumbled across this ghost sign around seven years ago. I have photographed it many times, but the summer light in Cornwall is too harsh and bright to do it justice. Luckily, this Easter weekend just gone I managed to snap some shots in between the hail showers in some nicer flat light conditions.”

Traditional shopfront with a fading fascia sign above. The name of the business, J.C. Rogers, is given in large letters in the centre, flanked by "pork butcher" on the left and "bacon curer &c" on the right. At the extremities are the door number 43.
The fading fascia for the J.C. Rogers butchers on Causewayhead in Penzance, Cornwall. Photo © Jon Herbert.

“The shop and signage are a real treat and a pleasure to see in the flesh. There seem to be a few ghost signs and ghost shops still standing in Penzance, Cornwall. I’m guessing because of the lack of gentrification and investment in the area since the boom times of the industrial revolution; shipping and copper mining—the good old days!”

“There are also some lovely typographic tiles to the left of the entrance (see below) plus the shop opposite has similar tiles in situ.”

(The shop opposite was J.P. James, also a pork butcher, but despite the similarities in their signage, I’ve not found any obvious connections between the two businesses.)

Glazed ceramic tiles with green Art Nouveau lettering on a 45 degree upwards diagonal reading "J.C. Rogers".
Glazed tiles adorning the entrance to the former butchers shop. It is almost certain that more of this Art Nouveau lettering exists beneath the board that covers the lower portion of the tiled panel. Photo © Jon Herbert.

While looking around on streetview, I spotted that the 2010 view of the shop has a completely different sign for J.C. Rogers in position. These were the remains of a glass gilded piece which has since been removed to reveal the older fading fascia below. (There is a better quality photo by Charles Whittaker on Flickr.)

Slightly blurry screenshot from google streetview of a very decayed shopfront on which can be made out the door number (43) at either end and the business name, J.C. Rogers, in the middle. The letters appear to have been gilded in gold leaf on the reverse of a piece of glass before being installed.
The 2010 streetview of the shop with the remains of a gilded fascia sign.

In addition, Jon found a lovely archival photo of the butchers’ other main premises on Market Jew Street. This is dated to 1900 and has a two-part carved and glass-gilded fascia alongside other gold leaf work on the window.. The shop is now occupied by Pinup Boutique, but there’s a slim chance that the old J.C. Rogers sign survives in some form beneath theirs…

Archival photo of a butchers shop with meat hanging in the doorway where two butchers are posing for the photo. There is a carved and gilded sign above the shopfront that gives the building number (37) and the business name, J.C. Rogers. Gilded letters in the window then detail some of the products available.
1900 photo courtesy of the Morrab Library Photographic Archive. Jon says: “You’ve got to love the old terminology ‘The Pioneer Pork & Provision Stores, Poulterers and Bacon Curers’—pure gold!”

The directories show that the business itself was in existence by 1873, with premises on Market Jew Street from at least 1883. And that J.C. stands for John Charles. The Causewayhead shop seems to have jumped around a few different locations before settling at number 43 between 1897 and 1902. Assuming the surviving sign was the first put in place at number 43, then that would date it to turn of the century, with the lost gilded piece being a later upgrade.

Entries for 'Rogers' in a street directory with two of these highlighted: Rogers, John, butcher, 117 Market Jew street; Rogers, John Charles, pork butcher, 43 Causeway head.
The 1902 directory. Although the address is given as 117 Market Jew Street, the 1900 archival photo shows the number 37. This does appear in the 1914 directory as “37 The Terrace, Market Jew St” and so my hunch is that these are the same building, perhaps with a renumbering of the street at some point.

I don’t have access to any records after 1914, so what happened to the business beyond after that isn’t known, but it is wonderful to see this fading fascia being retained for all to see.

View of the surviving J.C. Rogers shop fascia sign taken from the street in front.
The full fascia sign in the classic style with numbers at the extremities, and the central name flanked by the principle goods sold and some decorative scrolling. Photo © Jon Herbert.

J.C. Rogers

43, J.C. Rogers, 43

Pork Butcher, Bacon Curer &c.

43 Causewayhead, Penzance TR18 [Streetview]

Photos: Jon Herbert and Morrab Library Photographic Archive.

Check out more fading fascias on the Ghostsigns blog.

Post Script: J.C. Rogers’ Obituary

Jon got back in touch having found an obituary for J.C. Rogers. It was published on 15 November 1928 in The Cornishman, and I’ve transcribed it below the portrait that accompanied it. (Thanks to a comment by Chris Bond, we also know that the photographer was either “Henry Opie or Edgar Opie, both of Redruth”.)

Black and white photo of a man from a newspaper clipping. He is wearing a suit and tie and has a moustache and short hair. Underneath the text says "Photo by Opie. The late Mr J.C. Rogers".
Portrait of J.C. Rogers that accompanied his obituary in The Cornishman.

Death of Mr J.C. Rogers

Well-known Penzance Poultry Breeder

“We regret to announce the death of Mr John C. Rogers, of Causewayhead, Penzance, which took place on Wednesday morning.

“Mr Rogers had not been in good health for some year or two past, but his death came somewhat suddenly. It was on Monday that he suffered a sudden stroke, from which he never rallied.For many years Mr Rogers had carried on business as pork butcher and provision merchange in Causewayhead, and was well-known and much respected.

“A native of the town, he was keenly interested in all phases of its life. He was for many years a member of the old A Co. 1st V.B.D.C.L.I. He was also a playing member of the Penzance Cricket Club in the days when the late Col. W.E.T. Bolitho was at the head of its affairs, and was noted for his bowling. Although never a very prominent footballer, he was a member of the old Penzance Pirates, with which was also associated Ald. W.H. Trounson and others of the old school.

“But it was as a breeder of poultry that Mr Rogers was best known. There were few finer judges of a bird than he, and thousands of prizes came to him from all over the country as the result of application of his knowledge in the breeding and rearing of poultry. For years past his name had rarely been absent from the winners in the prize lists of the leading shows in Cornwall, and he was recognised as an undoubted authority in this mater.

“His death will be regretted by a large circle of friends.

“Mr Rogers leaves a widow, three sons and two daughters.”

The Cornishman, 15 November 1928

Subscribe to my newsletter for news, events and projects from the world of ghost signs. I curate the newsletter roughly monthly and welcome submissions.