New Book: Ghost Signs of Bath


Ghost Signs of Bath has been a book waiting to happen for many years, and I have written about the city on a number of previous occasions. Fortunately Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott of Akeman Press have seized the opportunity and created a publication that takes local historical research into ghostsigns to new levels. I was invited to contribute a foreword, but this is only a single page in this 290-page volume.

Structured as a series of walks through Bath and its surrounds, the book takes readers beyond the immediately obvious features of the signs and examines, in depth, the stories of the businesses that they once advertised. These include signs from times when ‘polonies’ were part of the common parlance, libraries were ‘circulating’, and bar customers were politely reminded to pay for their drinks when served. The text is accompanied by thorough documentation of the signs as they appear now, alongside substantial archival photography and scans of related historical documents. A general introduction examines the history of signwriting in the UK, and sets the scene for the time when these now-fading walls were freshly painted.

The book is a fitting tribute to this city’s wonderfully well-preserved ghostsigns, and sets a new standard for others to emulate in terms of the detailed level of research undertaken. With over 160 ghostsigns documented, the book will keep you busy reading and walking for some time! You can buy the book at all good bookshops in Bath, and directly from the publishers via their website. The photos below should hopefully whet your appetite…

Share