This was the scene on Cazenove Road, Stoke Newington, on the morning of Monday 28 July. The photo was snapped from the top floor of flats overlooking this famous ghostsign for John Brown Whiskies. I received it via email with a message concerned about the fate of the sign, in light of the forthcoming building works. Given that this is a key stop on my walking tour I felt an immediate response was necessary, especially as I had three tours coming up that week.
I grabbed my bike, dashed round to the site and caught the scaffolders as they were finishing up. They were able to point me in the direction of the landlord, parked in a car nearby and about to pull off. My luck was in.
After a lengthy conversation I was able to report back to my original correspondent that the planned works consisted of repainting the front of the building, and repointing the wall with the ghostsign on it. This should mean that the sign lives another day but what was most interesting was the attitude of the landlord. He was not in the least bit interested in the ‘pesky advertisement’ and failed to see how others might attach value to it. He proceeded to try to sell it to me. Twice. First was an attempt to sell the space for my own advertising, presumably via a billboard of some sort. Second, and most intriguing, was to sell the wall itself – ‘I can get new bricks’.
It seems that some landlords are starting to realise that ghostsigns can add value to their properties, whereas others remain un-moved by these pieces of history on their walls. In this case the sign will survive but there may be one near you that is under greater threat. If that is the case then you have to ask yourself, ‘Who you gonna call?’