Donovan Bros, Crispin Street, Spitalfields

I’m glad I’m not the only one who searches the streets for signs pointing to the past, particularly where I live in Brighton, so today I thought we could go ghost sign hunting in London with a selection from a new book, Ghost Signs: A London Story. It’s by two ghost sign fanatics, photographer Roy Reed, and Sam Roberts who since 2006 has been documenting, blogging and leading tours on ghost signs.

It’s the result of a crowdfunding campaign and includes 250 signs, apparently the most comprehensive account of ghost signs ever published, focusing on London’s hand-painted relics of advertising past. It would also make a great Christmas present (for yourself). Here’s a little peek:

Boots the Chemist, Camden High Street
ghost sign london
Brymay Matches, Alpha Road, New Cross
Cakebread Robey, Tyssen Road, Stoke Newington

Ghost signs are fascinating pieces of urban archaeology. Imposing yet hidden in plain sight, these faded advertisements are London’s history written onto the contemporary cityscape. They reveal fascinating stories of everyday life in the capital. From births and deaths to bombs and whiskey, and Alf the Purse King to Bonsoir Pyjamas, each sign has its own story to tell — not just of the business it represents and the people behind it, but of its own improbable survival.”

BP Energol, Poland Street, Soho
Germolene Venos, Wandsworth Road
Courage, Redcross Way, Bermondsey
Everetts, St James Street, Walthamstow
Gillette, Clapham High Street
Hovis Warner Brothers, Ichmery Road, Catford
Herbet and Sons, Grays Inn Road, Bloomsbury
Cedars Motor Engineering Company, Cedars Road, Clapham
Peterkin Custard, Sangora Road, Battersea
Nestle, Killyon Road, Clapham
JS Foster & Co outfitters, Tisbury Court, Soho

Buy Ghost Signs: A London Story from Amazon or Bookshop and follow along with Sam Roberts, aka Mr Ghost Sign’s adventures on Instagram here.

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