Tag Archives: Ghost Signs

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A Hither Green Ghost Sign of a Long ‘Lost’ Brewery

In the middle of a row of shops on Hither Green Lane is a single-storey building, which seems oddly out of place in the two/three storey late Victorian properties – it has created some advertising space which remains filled by a painted ‘ghost sign’ which, at its very latest was painted in 1909 – more on that later.  The single-storey building may have originally been the same size as the rest of the terrace, the building was destroyed in a fire in 1894 (1).

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The sign has clearly gone through at least two incarnations, painted over the top of each other, and have unevenly weathered, it appears to read – ‘Fox & Sons’. Below that is ‘…nborough’, then ‘Ales Stout’ and finally ‘In bottle and cask’.  There looks to be ‘wine’ in the midst too.

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It is quite common for ‘ghost signs’ to relate to the business on the side of the building that it was painted on – Running Past has covered several including John Campion & Sons in Catford, a bakers in Sandhurst Road, Catford, a now hidden one at Lee Green and perhaps my favourite Wallace Prings Chemists in Bromley.  This is not the case here – Fox & Sons were brewers from Green Street Green in Farnborough, now on the edge of Bromley. In the period up until the end of World War 1, and probably much longer, 210 Hither Green Lane seems to have been one of a pair of butchers shops on Hither Green Lane run by Joseph Hurdidge.  Hurdidge was born in Old Ford in 1865 and seems to have taken over the (presumably) tenancy of the 132 Hither Green Lane around 1890 and probably expanded to 210 when the shops were developed a little later.  Hurdidge certainly remained in the trade and remained in the Lewisham area for the rest of his life – in the 1939 Register he was still working but widowed and living at 78 Eltham Road, Lee, where he died in 1952.

 

There were a couple of off licences on Hither Green Lane – one just to the north of Harvard Road, run for years by a Robert Mott and one adjacent to Woodlands Street run by Florence Jackson.  Neither was mentioned in the sign though, although they may have sold bottled Fox and Co beer.

So, like most modern advertising billboards, it seems to have been a more general sign – which the Brewery probably repeated in many locations – there is a postcard of a still serving pub from around 1906, the British Queen in Locksbottom, with an identical advertisement on the building side.

Source eBay April 2016

Source eBay April 2016

So what of the brewery? John Fox (born around 1787 in Buckinghamshire) had moved to Green Street Green in 1818 to run Oak Farm.  He brewed a little for himself and his employees but decided to set up a proper brewery on the site in the 1830s.  The business was taken over by his son Thomas (born 1819) who was still running the brewery (pictured below) with his sons in the 1881 census, but died in 1886. The third generation, Thomas (born 1852) and Walter St John Fox (born 1855), took full control after their father’s death.

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Source here

By the mid 1860s they had three main beers – BB Bitter, which they sold at £2 a barrel, XL Pale Ale at £2.25, and East India Pale Ale for £2.50 cash price.   All had been “carefully brewed from malt of the finest quality and they are hopped with the best Kent growths.”  They delivered to most of the then rural suburbs of south east London – including Lee and Lewisham every Thursday.  By 1891 the Oak Brewery was attempting to mimic the Burton Pale Ales and treated the water with gypsum, quarried by the River Trent to try to do this.

By 1909 they had expanded their range of beer – the best known was Farnborough Ale (FA) – which they described as ‘bright, sparking and nutritious.’ They had almost 40 tied public houses and employed 110 workers in brewing, distribution as well as associated trades such as barrel making and a blacksmith.  The brewery was the centre of village life in Green Street Green, with around 30 tied cottages.

Early in the 20th century, the brothers may have been in some financial problems – they were certainly re-mortgaging some of the ‘tied houses’ in 1906.  The partnership was dissolved in 1907 and they decided to retire, putting the brewery put up for sale including its ‘tied houses.’ (2 – see cutting below).

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It was not a good time to sell – values in the brewing industry were falling sharply (3), the 1904 Licensing Act gave magistrates more powers to refuse licences, particularly if there were a number of pubs in the area, although the value of the smaller number licences was expected to increase (4).

The Oak Brewery was bought in June 1907 for £89,000 (5); but the new owners clearly struggled and there was a second auction in April 1908 (6), but with a ‘reserve’ of £60,000 it failed to attract any interest.  It was split into smaller lots in June 1909 (7 – see below) with other breweries buying up the tied houses.  As brewing stopped in July 1909, presumably there was a separate sale of the buildings which were put to a variety of other uses after 1909 including military uses in the First World War and a later a plastic factory. The buildings were demolished for housing in the 1960s.

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Notes

  1. The Times (London, England), Monday, Dec 10, 1894; pg. 10; Issue 34443.
  2. The Times (London, England), Saturday, May 18, 1907; pg. 20; Issue 38336.
  3. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Dec 28, 1907; pg. 13; Issue 38528.
  4. Ibid
  5. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Jun 19, 1909; pg. 15; Issue 38990.
  6. Ibid
  7. ibid

Census and related information comes from Find My Past

Kelly’s Directory data is from the Collection at Leicester University

 

 

 

A Bromley Ghost Sign – Uridge’s Stores

There is a well preserved ghost sign on the side of the top storey of the  Bromley Bike Co shop on Widmore Road.  I have been in the shop, stood at bus stops opposite but had never looked up until it was mentioned to me on twitter after posting on the Wallace Pring sign at Bromley Common.

The business was run by Isaac Uridge.  However, it wasn’t the first shop of a similar name in the area.  The first was opened by Isaac’s father, also Issac, who had moved with his wife Elizabeth to Bromley in 1855 where they opened a shop at at 12-13 Market Square.

The shop had clearly become well known, such that by 1872 when there were calls for greater traffic involvement from the police due to the level of accidents at ‘Uridges Corner’.

Isaac, senior, died in 1874 and it appears that at least some of the older children carried on the business until around 1881 at the Market Square, as there were still Uridges listed as living there in the census.  However, by the 1882 Kelly’s Directory, the Market Square shop was no longer trading.  This seems likely to be because the building was demolished to widen the road.  The building on the corner, now Café Rouge, is dated 1883.

The two oldest children Henry and William were running the same business at 15 Widmore Road, a few doors doors down from the sign, and now a Pizza Express.  Kellys listed them as grocers, wine and sprit merchants and were agents for W & A Gilbey – who were then wine retailers, they didn’t add their own brand gin to their portfolio until 1895.

The brothers’ partnership was dissolved in late 1884, though William continued the business opening new shops in Blackheath (Shooters Hill Road) and Chislehurst.  Henry and William both married 2nd cousins of Bromley’s famous ‘son’, HG Wells, (Marion & Minnie respectively) and both died young, William in 1895 aged around 37. The shops formerly run by William in Blackheath and Widmore Road were quickly disposed of.  The executors of his will were still running the shop in Chislehurst in the 1913 Kelly’s.

Isaac (junior) was born in 1866 and by 1903 was running the shop with the ghost sign at 27 Widmore Road as well as another at 25 Masons Hill. By 1913 (Kelly’s) he had extended the business to include a shop at 2-4 London Road, Sevenoaks.

Isaac took over the  W & A Gilbey franchise, and described the shop as ‘High Class Stores’ in an advertisement in a 1906 Bromley Public Library Bulletin which had them selling groceries, fresh and dried fruits, provisions, wines and spirits, pork and poultry, ales and stout – an early incarnation of Waitrose, perhaps?

The business was certainly trading into the early 1950s and possibly beyond, although it is not clear whether it was still at Widmore Road and how long they remained in the family – the Sevenoaks shops was sold in 1938, when Isaac would have been 72. However, it is possible that his daughter, Ella, may have continued to run the business.

 

Ghost Signs – Charles Holdaway, a Lewisham Painter

I noticed this very well preserved and newly uncovered sign next to the bowling alley on Belmont Hill in Lewisham a few weeks ago, the previous advertising hoarding having been at least temporarily removed. By the time of posting, it may well have already been re-covered by a more modern advertising display aimed at almost constant stream of drivers and bus passengers stopped at the traffic lights.

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The C Holdaway was probably Charles Parneth Holdaway, although as it was almost certainly a family business, by the time the sign was written it may have been his son who was also Charles.

The exact vintage of the sign is not completely clear, although it is certainly some time before 1912, as around halfway down on the left hand side there is an old street name, Granville Mews, painted over the advertisement. This name was replaced with its present name, Myron Place, in 1912.

Charles, senior, was born at Woodford in Essex in 1845. This predated the arrival of the railway there by a decade, so it is likely to have been largely rural in character. He had clearly moved away from the area by his early 20s, as he had married to Maria who was from Pimilco, and they had a son, Charles junior, was born in Brixton in 1868.

By the 1881 census they were living at 36 Molesworth Street, although given the birthplace and years of the other children, they had spent at least 5 years in Stratford en route from Brixton.

There was probably originally an address for the business on the sign, but this was undoubtedly lower down the wall and is now covered by several layers of paint. While this could have been Molesworth Street, it is much more likely to have been a little further up the road towards Blackheath at 27 Belmont Hill, where the family was living in 1891. Belmont Hill was the location given in the various adverts that appeared for the firm in the short-lived Blackheath Gazette in the early 1890s, a November 1892 edition included

C. Holdaway, Plumber and Painter, 3, Belmont Hill, Lee. Special attention given to Sanitary Work, Estimates for General Repairs, Contractor under the London Provincial Sanitary Company ….

Although as other editions had 0, 4 and 27, it may just have been typesetting of pre-computer Guardian levels of accuracy.

By the 1901 (and in the 1911 census) they had moved to the other side of, what would then have been known as Lee Bridge, at 33 Lewis Grove where they had a shop front. Charles, senior, was still listed as working at 68 in 1911.

Charles, junior, was at least in the same ‘trade’, working at a ‘paper hanger’ in 1901, probably in the family business. He lived close by at 59 Cressingham Road. He is listed for the same trade in 1911, but three doors away from where he was living in 1881, at 30 Molesworth Street.

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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