Ghost Signs in Catford and Lewisham

I had an interesting run last Sunday, triggered by a detour earlier in the week stopping in traffic by a couple of ‘Ghost Signs’ in Catford. I vaguely remembered that there were a few more in the area and set off to explore.

Ghost signs are old hand-painted advertising signage which pre-dated the paper advertising hoardings. There are some fantastic blogs on ghost signs, particularly on Caroline’s Miscellany, which covers a lot of other interesting things too.

The first was en route, and is on the corner of Lee High Road and Bankwell Road in Lewisham. This was hidden for years under an advertising hoarding but became visible a few years ago.

Witalls was a car dealership on the opposite corner from the 1930s to the 1970s. It was housed in what was previously a cinema, the Lee Picture Palace, later to be Central Hall Pictures, before becoming a WW1 munitions factory.

More recently the building was home to Penfold’s car showroom and an upstairs snooker hall, but was demolished in the early 2000s for flats and a health centre.

There are seveal ghost signs around around Sandhurst Road in Catford. The first is on Muirkirk Road, for baker and pastry cook, the name was presumably in a different paint and has worn off.

On the corner of Muirkirk Road and Sandhurst Road, over the door of a supermarket, is a butcher’s sign.

At the other end of the terrace of shops that used to be called Sandhurst Market, on the corner of Inchmery Road, is a much less clear sign that has deteriorated in recent years for a chemist and druggist, over a present day pharmacy.

Behind it is my favourite of the area, that of an ‘hygienic’ baker, the least one would expect; the sign dates from the 1930s or 1940s, although there was a bakers there from 1907, and there is a sign at the rear advertising Hovis.

The bakers were Warner Bros….so I should sign off with a a phrase that originates from the same era ‘That’s All Folks!’



11 thoughts on “Ghost Signs in Catford and Lewisham

  1. Crofton Park Life

    Great to see these on our doorstep. Amazing the signs are visible and preserved through photography. I’m wondering if there are any significant Ghost Sogns in Crofton Park, Honot Oak and Brockley. Will put out the word

    1. runner500 Post author

      There are quite a few in the area – I have noticed a couple off St Asaph Road along with one on Brockley Road (next to the junction with Brakespears Road). There are also several around Forest Hill, I think a couple on Stanstead Road and a few dotted around New Cross and Deptford. Caroline’s Miscellany, which I guess you got the link to here from, has covered a lot of them over the years – there will be more on here on them over the next few months.

  2. Sam Roberts

    Great to see these, some of which I don’t think are in the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive so please consider adding them there. The archive is searchable by postcode so it might be worth looking up those near you to see if there are any others hidden away… (HAT Archive, use the search a little way down the page, not the top one:

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  6. Peter Galloway

    I grew up living in Arran Rd and in the late 80s and early 90 walked past those Sandhurst Rd signs twice a day on my way to and from Sandhurst junior school. I’m pretty sure they were a fair bit less ghostly back then, although I think all the businesses they’d belonged to were long gone (maybe not the chemist, as there has always been one on that corner as far as I remember). The ‘Warner Bros’ sign must have struck me as funny at the time but I think in a slightly subconscious way.

    Love this blog and your devotion to documenting the local area.

    1. Paul B Post author

      Thank you for your kind comments. I don’t think that they were designed to last so over time they get weathered away. The best preserved ones either have some protection from the elements or have been hidden behind advertising hoardings. The Warner Brothers one is my favourite – one day I will try to find a bit more about it – they were certainly there in the 1939 Register.

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