After the rain cleared this morning, I went out on the streets around my workplace to six buildings represented in the Lewis & Skinner signwriting archives, and to invite their inhabitants to the nearby document exhibition in a few weeks. It ended up being a most enjoyable hour.
In my bag was a printout of the L&S signwriting jobs for those locations, a map, a list of locations and a customised version of the exhibition postcard:
I started at a converted corner store where a Fishers Wax sign had been commissioned in 1956. I pass this shop every morning when I park my car in the local streets and walk to work:
Then on to a couple of locations nearby near the train station. The first, a Victorian detached house, appears to have been a hardware shop.
There I chatted with two young women who were excited to hear about the connection.
Around the corner, another converted grocery, located opposite the train station. I left the documents about the Cadbury sign painted there in 1955 in the letterbox below the beautiful front door:
Then the main shops. The first site was now a local bank (but unfortunately in a obviously newish building). The former building had also had a Cadbury sign painted there:
The person at the information desk I gave the documents to was friendly and interested.
Then down the road a little to the site of a former advertising signboard space hired in 1931 by Lewis & Skinner for Francis Longmore (probably a White Crow tomato sauce sign):
Alas, it looks like a group of three houses/shops had been demolished sometime during the last 30 years to build the modernist house that's now there:
I left the documents in the letterbox here too.
And lastly, around the corner. On the way, passed by a local real estate agents with an obvious interest in the history of their area, judging by their window display:
I spoke to the guy inside and promised to drop in a postcard about the exhibition. He said the partners would be very interested in this.
The last site of the day was, and remains, a milk bar. Back in 1957 the signwriting job was for yet another Cadbury sign:
The proprietor was, once more, delighted and interested. She and her husband have run the milk bar for 30 years, and she noted that this building and one nearby were the originals in the area. She also mentioned that she had recently met a man in his 80s whose father had run the milk bar in his time (was this the "Hendry" referred to in the L&S documents?)
All in all, an encouraging first local roaming adventure, and a great way to meet the people in the living community surrounding the concrete bunker of my university campus, via what Harvey Sacks has called a 'ticket to talk' - a related interest or mutual point of connection. And, as also tends to happen in my ghost signs explorations, a feeling of being both grounded in the local surroundings and open to serendipitous encounter.
More of those feelings to follow soon, I hope.