Friday, October 26, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

For a limited time only...Melbourne's best ghost sign cluster

On the weekend I visited the leafy eastern suburb of Surrey Hills, to pay homage to a particularly brilliant collection of ghost signs uncovered by a building demolition in the Surrey Hills shopping village. My thanks to Leon Sims for first recording these on his blog: (

Before I went, I'd seen on Leon's blog that one of the walls had both a Robur Tea and a Medallion Foods sign. Both companies were clients of the Lewis and Skinner company, whose company records I uncovered in February at a demolition site, and for which I'm creating an online archive (see: So I thought this discovery was of particular interest.

However I didn't expect to find this, the first tangible link between the company and the signs they painted, as recorded on a well-preserved wall of signs that looked like they had been created last week:

Was I delighted? That would be an understatement. The local genteel, well-heeled residents would have been wondering about the crazy guy jumping up and down in excitement on a pile of rubble, phone camera in hand.

It's possible that I might also have the actual job listed in the Lewis & Skinner website: Most details (address, wall details) are nearly but not exactly right. The job sheet mentions the corner of Union Road and Canterbury Road - the uncovered signs are nearby but not on the actual corner. The wall sketch looks similar but not exactly the same. Also, the preserved remnants of a poster pasted on the wall suggests that the signs may have been covered up in around 1951 (not the 1956 date listed in the job sheet):

What follows is a photo essay of sorts comprising some 30 photos or so, of a site that until a few weeks ago looked like this, according to Google Street View:

Of course, the uncovered signs obviously won't be around (or, at least, visible) for much longer. They're on both walls revealed by the demolition: a Robur, Medallion and Nestle sign on one wall, a massive Bushell's sign and Orlando Wines poster, pasted on top of another sign it seems, on the other.

 So, as they say, I made hay with the iPhone camera while the sun shined on this spring day:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Then and now (last post for the day)

Over the last few days I've been looking at the photos from the Lewis and Skinner collection. Mainly of Mobil service stations, a few didn't have addresses attached. So I posted them to Facebook and asked some friends. Combining their eagle eyes and research skills, plus my own attempts, we've been able to identify quite a few, as seen here:

The best old milk bar in Melbourne? (and others)

Yesterday I managed to get out on the bike for the first time in many weeks. I started in Flemington and Kensington, then headed down to Port Melbourne, the former home of seadogs in tiny weatherboards, but now gentrified and developed into a renovators' heaven. There I stumbled on the milk bar I was looking for, after seeing some pics on a photo sharing website:

It was exciting to see the Noon Pies sign, after finding the Noon Pies bag in the Lewis & Skinner archive of signwriting jobs (in this case, a job for Leopold's Food Store):

Here are some others from the area:

back of a service station on Williamstown Road

And here are some from Kensington and Flemington (plus two in Ascot Vale and two in the city):

oh irony...look at the van