21 amazing ghost signs in London

Liz Connor, Gareth Richman

If you live in London, you’ll probably have spotted a ghost sign or two on your travels around the capital - or if not, you’ll certainly have seen one on Instagram.

These faded and weather-beaten painted signs are advertisements from generations past, giving us a unique insight into life in the capital over half a century ago.

There’s the 'Take Courage' slogan on Redcross Street, that greets commuters as they leave London Bridge station, the pretty ‘Fount Pens Repair’ sign that sits above the florist on Stoke Newington’s Church Street and the stalwart Bovril sign in Brixton.

In the Thirties, these signs became popular in the capital; homeowners would make money by renting the gable end of their house to advertisers.

Redcross Street, Southwark (@broganinlondon)

Sign painters would scale the walls, on ladders or trestles, to hand paint these beautiful pieces of artwork which, at the time, were seen as nothing more than commonplace ads.

Now these living relics are rare and attractive features to a London property for potential buyers.

Stoke Newington (@natal13d)

Ghost signs advertise various products and services, from small independent brands to big household names like Hovis, Boots and Gillette.

The photographs in the gallery above were taken by Australian London-dweller Natalie Davison, alongside other ghost sign fanatics.

“I live in Bermondsey, and I was always interested in the faded painted signs that are all over my neighbourhood,” Davison says.

“I love the whole feeling of the past still being in the present from a photographic perspective, and was particularly taken with learning about the history aspect.

Brixton (@natal13d)

“What kind of businesses had operated from these buildings? It felt a bit like ‘if these walls could talk, each would have an amazing story to tell.’”

Natalie has teamed up with The Photo Republic of London, to launch a new zine called ‘Rosie’ (short for Rosie Lee), that will bring together the most interesting photographs of ghost signs from across the capital.

Londoners can share their images of ghost signs under the hashtag #tpro_ldn_ghostsigns, to be in with a chance of getting their picture included.

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