Sunday, 20 September 2015

Down on New Cross Road with a ghost sign

Now what surprises me more than anything about ghosts signs is that so many of them have survived for so long.

For those who don’t know they are adverts for businesses and products which have long ago vanished.

Most will have been painted on the sides of buildings up to a century ago but despite no one looking after them they are still there.

Many have lost their original bright colour and are fading fast while others are quietly without fuss peeling away.

And so it is with this one captured by Adrian on the side of 102 New Cross Road.

I haven’t been able to date it but I am making a start.  Back in 1910 this was the premises of Edis Bertarm, tobacconist which gives me a century and a bit to play with.

And as you do I went looking for Mr Bertram who has proved elusive and instead I found John Cole Tyler and his wife Louisa Susanah who in the spring of 1911 were renting three rooms at 102.  He made a living from laying paving stones and they had been married for four years.

The census return offered no clue as to whether Mr Bertram was still there or if the shop had become a grocers.

Of course he may have lived elsewhere which is even more frustrating given that at 100 I know John Henry Clarke was still carrying on his boot making business.

But there was quite a bit of turnover in both occupants and traders between the end of 1909 and the middle of 1911 so I shouldn’t be surprised at my failure to find him.

It will just mean a painstaking search of the directories which at some point will turn up a grocery shop with a date for when it opened its doors till it closed.

That may take some time but then the ghost sign is still there.

Picture; ghost sign, 102 New Cross Road 2015, from the collection of Adam Burgess

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