I walk past this corner at least twice every day but only recently noticed the ghost sign painted above the newer enamel one. I assume it was previously covered up, otherwise I’m sure I’d have spotted it at some point in the past five years. Perhaps the jutting pipe points to recent usage.
Much as I like a painted street sign, this one is particularly interesting as it dates back to a time when the street – a short stub of road – had a different name entirely. According to Steve Chambers, who knows about such things, this was one of three name changes in the area – including the eradication of the similar Hamilton Terrace on Shakespeare Road – brought about to tidy up postal addresses.
The ghost sign for the ghost street sits opposite a ghost pub. Hamilton Supermarket occupies the site of the Hamilton Arms, a cosy corner pub opened in 1878 that was captured magnificently in these old photos. It closed in 2004.
I have a piece in the Autumn 2013 issue of Completely London about London experts, those Londoners who specialise in esoteric subjects like lion statues, ghost signs and stinkpipes. You can read part of it here. My interview with John Kennedy, London’s bollard supremo, didn’t make the cut so I have reproduced it below.
John Kennedy, 47, taxi driver & writer of Bollards Of London Most people in London get excited about the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace but when you drive a taxi you get bored of the norm and start to look around and notice other things. With me, it’s bollards. It actually began as a bet with ‘Big’ George Webley, a radio presenter. He challenged me to write a blog about something weird and it got picked up by the Guardian. Now I’m really interested in bollards, the way they look, where they are located, what they are used for and how we interact with them.
Bollards have so many uses but most people don’t notice them no matter how colourful, ornate or dandy they are. I really like the Anthony Gormley bollards in Peckham. I love that one of our great contemporary artists is making street furniture. I picked up Charles Saatchi recently and we ended up talking bollards, he found it quite amusing that I had a blog with pictures of 330 bollards. You do get some odd looks when you photograph a bollard – the other day I was spotted taking a picture by somebody. He said, ‘You must be the bollard man.’
Some months ago, Russell Miller noticed that London was filled with metal posts that are left embedded in the ground long after the signs they once supported are taken away. So he began to photograph them for his website, taking particular interested in the way people walk past these rusting remnants without even noticing. And then he told me about it.
I first came across John Kennedy’s brilliant Bollards of London blog shortly after he started it two years ago, when I idly googled ‘London bollards’ one evening (that is the sort of thing I do).
I’ve been fascinated by bollards for years, ever since I pretended to be an art cinema-loving ponce and went to see Ben Hopkins’ weird London demi-classic The Nine Lives Of Tomas Katz at the ICA and was transfixed by a montage scene involving talking bollards.
Many years later I sent M@ from Londonist on a quest to locate London’s top ten bollards, but John has taken this to the extreme and now has over 100 London bollards on his site.
Bollards are great. They are everywhere and they are all different. Here are two I snapped last week, located within metres of each other in Wapping but very different.
This one is fat, old and very rusty.
This one is new, shiny and very, very short. It barely comes up to my knees and nobody would ever describe me as a giant.
Amazing eh? If you agree, check out John’s site, where he will shortly be presenting my top three London bollards from his collection.