Old shop signs of Glasgow
When I'm out jogging I pass many old, fading shop signs or "ghost signs" as they are known, slowly vanishing into obscurity. Despite the wee insights into another era that these give they are rarely afforded any protection, which probably adds to their charm. You still see old signs in several places. You see them above pubs, where old signs are remade, as if they are unchanging. You see them on Italian cafes (eg Jaconelli's at Queens Cross) where the faded art deco signage has almost become their calling card. Also now you see them on some bars and cafes where old battered signs which they have uncovered in the course of renovation works are kept to add a "quaint" ambience to a place.
However in most cases these signs are uncovered briefly in the course of building work and then covered over again with a bland, disposable plastic sign. The best collection of old signs put to good use in Glasgow is surely inside the Old Fruitmarket, where the stallholders signs from the market days hang from the balcony.
|Firhill Stadium. It has been a while since it was £3 to get in to see Partick Thistle,|
most home games cost £22 for an adult now, but these old signs lives on
|Cafezique on Hyndland Street, Glasgow|
|Kelvingrove Cafe, a bar on Argyle Street at Kelvinhaugh Street|
Sign writers and gilders were important and skilled tradesmen in the days before adverts could be mass produced on posters and signage printed cheaply on plastic hoardings. Gilded street signs and their distinctive fonts seem a million miles away from our uniform modern ones (even the olde names are better).
|Old gilded sign for Edelweiss Terrace in 3D "Lounge Bar"|
font, now just boring old Partickhill Road
|Fading but gilded versions of "Crown Mansions, Partickhill"|
in two different fonts, now Partickhill Road
Two of my favourite ghost signs in Glasgow are the barely visible "Capstan" sign beside the Brazen Head pub in the Gorbals and the "Red Hackle" advert high up on a building on Otago Street.
|Railway Bridge on Cumberland Street, Glasgow, advertising Capstan cigarettes|
Capstan cigarettes were produced by the Wills tobacco company, a company originally founded in 1786 in Bristol, trading tobacco from the colonies (see blog on Glasgow's tobacco merchants). Other brands which they owned included Woodbine, Strand cigarettes and Gold Flake tobacco. In 1953 Wills opened a cigarette factory on Alexandra Parade where my uncle worked for a time, this factory continued churning out cigarettes until it closed in 1990.
|Former Wills Tobacco Factory, Alexandra Parade, Glasgow|
In 1971 when tar and nicotine content of cigarettes was first published in the UK, Capstan cigarettes had by far the highest content. For 10 years I drove under this bridge on my way to work and depending on the lighting that day, I could usually see the words "CAPSTAN cigarettes" shining out at me as I sat at the traffic lights. The railway bridge at Cumberland Street in the Gorbals is near to where my gran and grandad lived as children. There is barely a photograph of my grandad without a cigarette hanging from his bottom lip, so I imagine this Capstan advert he must have passed a thousand times as being aimed directly at his teenage self.
Today when I ran past to take a photo of the bridge it is now almost impossible to discern the old writing, particularly as some latter day artist has scrawled (I think) "TOGS....SOO" across it. (Young Sooside Cumbie? Anyone?)
Red Hackle Whisky
|Ghost sign of "Red Hackle" reading across with another |
"Red" visible at the top and a whisky bottle on the right
The building now at 37 Otago Street in Glasgow is home to the Rug Rooms flooring company amongst other things, including a Sikh temple.
|Red Hackle whisky|
|1965, Red Hackle building, Otago Street|
|It's difficult to see the old station now with the trees but the platforms are still there|
|Staircase up to the station from the platform|
|Old platform of Kelvinbridge train station,|
looking towards the tunnel under Gt Western Road
Charles Hepburn, who owned the whisky company, donated the premises across the road on Otago Street to the new Piping School and financed the "Red Hackle Pipe Band". He lived at 7 University Gardens and bequeathed this house and a large part of his valuable book collection to Glasgow University upon his death. He had a major art collection too, and it is known that he got his signwriter to create copies of some other famous artworks, such as The Laughing Cavalier, for his house.
|Entrance hallway inside the old Red Hackle |
building, Otago Street. Now a rug showroom.
|Part of the frieze of famous Scots in the office at the Otago Street building|
So for Alex McGregor all the other sign painters of Glasgow here is a random selection of their works that I have spotted on jogging through the streets of Glasgow this past week or two.
|"Home Bakery" on Hyndland Street, now vacant|
|Fruit and Vegetable sellers advert on St Georges Road. Only recently|
there was a modern billboard hiding this (see Google StreetView)
|Now Mother India Cafe on Argyle Street|
|A mess of old and new signs at The Hidden Lane, Finnieston|
|Goods Entrance, Woolworths at Charing Cross, Glasgow|
|Also at old Woolworth's, Charing Cross|
|Okay, not that old, but I pass it on my way to Firhill and |
always suspected that Frank had painted it himself
|Great Western Road. What once stood on this wall|
(Update from @allan_tall "I mind the ad for Ecko Radios here")
|Bank Street, Glasgow|
|Hyndland Road, beside another disused station, |
which no longer stands, now "Station Park"
|Kelvingrove Cafe, Argyle Street|
|Bilsland's Bakery, Anderston|
(one time owner, Alexander Steven Bilsland became Baron Bilsland and director of Bank of Scotland)
|Old Warehouses on James Watt Street Glasgow |
(see here for info on warehouse fire on James Watt Street)
|Warehouses on James Watt Street|
|Old tobacco warehouses on James Watt Street, Glasgow|
|A lane in the Trongate "Taurus Manufacturing"|
|A lane in the Trongate, Glasgow, beneath the |
Britannia Panopticon where Stan Laurel performed