Ghostsigns in Coventry 6


Last week I was invited to give a talk about ghostsigns to students at the Design & Visual Arts department of the Coventry School of Art & Design. While I was in the area I thought I’d look up any ghostsigns that I could find in the History of Advertising Trust archive, and the flickr group. I was surprised to find so few, presumably many in the centre were lost to WW2 bombing. Hazel gave me some great leads via Facebook so, after the talk, with map in hand, I set off to hunt some down. This is what I found…

Perhaps the most famous and prominent of the city's ghostsigns is this one for Nestle. The sun was just setting when I snapped it.

Perhaps the most famous and prominent of the city’s ghostsigns is this one for Nestle. The sun was just setting when I snapped it.

This one is in an alley that cuts through the middle of the William Morris Building and has an odd public service message. Presumably it once said 'must only' or something similar and there was a problem with people using the tea drain for non-tea substances...

This one is in an alley that cuts through the middle of the William Morris Building and has an odd public service message. Presumably it once said ‘must only’ or something similar and there was a problem with people using the tea drain for non-tea substances…

This is a recent fascia reveal with some lovely script lettering on a specially shaped board. Not quite visible in this photo, the bottom right of the sign also has the text 'Prop A.Inglesent' indicating the chocolate box's owner. The sign is on university grounds and will hopefully be removed for display while the rest of the building is redeveloped.

This is a recent fascia reveal with some lovely script lettering on a specially shaped board. Not quite visible in this photo, the bottom right of the sign also has the text ‘Prop A.Inglesent’ indicating the chocolate box’s owner. The sign is on university grounds and will hopefully be removed for display while the rest of the building is redeveloped.

These hanging signs are contemporary creations but slightly unusual nonetheless. They are situated in the underpass between Spon Street and Upper Spon Street in the West of the city.

These hanging signs are contemporary creations but slightly unusual nonetheless. They are situated in the underpass between Spon Street and Upper Spon Street in the West of the city.

The reverse sides of the hanging signs.

The reverse sides of the hanging signs.

This pair are documented in the History of Advertising Trust archive. They appear to have been repainted relatively recently and have these unusual and distinctive wedge decorative elements that I've not seen elsewhere before.

This pair are documented in the History of Advertising Trust archive. They appear to have been repainted relatively recently and have these unusual and distinctive wedge decorative elements that I’ve not seen elsewhere before.

As I was on my way to capture the cigar and tobacco merchant sign I couldn't help stumbling upon this lovely fascia that I originally featured in a blog post about Shopfrontelegy. The sun was in the right place and so the wet fish were duly snapped.

As I was on my way to capture the cigar and tobacco merchant sign I couldn’t help stumbling upon this lovely fascia that I originally featured in a blog post about Shopfrontelegy. The sun was in the right place and so the wet fish were duly snapped.

In response to my appeal for places to visit while in Coventry I was passed a set of archival images by a friend. Here are a handful of those that show painted signs, either fresh or a bit faded, in the periphery, as they often are in older photographs. Thank you to the university for inviting me up, and to everyone that helped pinpoint material to assist my visit.

Coventry-Archival-Photo-1

Coventry-Archival-Photo-2

Coventry-Archival-Photo-3

Coventry-Archival-Photo-4

Coventry-Archival-Photo-5

Coventry-Archival-Photo-6

Coventry-Archival-Photo-7

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  • Hazel Nicholson

    Thank you for the plug 🙂 It’s good that I’ve got some ghost signs near the top of my Flickr account at the time of writing. The sign about tea leaves originally had a not on it as shown in my older photo of it. https://www.flickr.com/photos/10515323@N08/7913805524/in/photolist-

    • That’s great, they must have had a major problem with tea-leaf dumping!

      • Hazel Nicholson

        I’ve certainly never seen another one just giving instructions rather than advertising something like this one does.

    • Anna Borsey

      Just as I surmised! See my comment above.
      I wrote my comment before reading this post, you see.

      • Thanks, good to have this all cleared up, unlike the drains!

  • Anna Borsey

    I think the second ghost sign from the top originally said
    THESE DRAINS MUST NOT BE USED FOR THE DEPOSITING OF TEA-LEAVES
    as tea leaves are apt to clog the drains in conjunction with fats, soap residue and all the other things people tip down the drains.