If you’ve ever looked at the side of a building and seen a faded advert for a company long since closed down, then Historic England wants to hear from you as it is creating a map of Ghost Signs.

Stoke Newington Church Street (c) Coralie Datta, Source Historic England Archive

Ghost signs can come in many forms but typically they are historic hand-painted advertising signs, or old shop signs preserved on buildings which have since changed use.

Historic England says that they hope an online map will encourage people to look up beyond the shop fronts on their local high streets, and invite others to visit and explore them too.

You can submit your photos to their map here.

Historic England adds that various resources also exist about the study of the UK’s ghost signs, including the History of Advertising Trust with a ghost signs collection, established in 2010 by Sam Roberts – at the Ghostsigns website.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “Once you start looking up on high streets and hunting for ghost signs, you’ll find that they’re hidden in plain sight, tucked away down alleyways or hiding among rooftops. These mysterious pieces of secret history are a special reminder of the people who came before us, and the urban spaces and high streets they made their own. We want to hear what people know and love about their local ghost signs, and to create a map that we can all use to explore this evocative part of our urban heritage.”

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6 comments
  1. Liz says:

    Bath Rd Devizes Wiltshire. On main road at end of building. Wiltshire Bacon Company. Sadly badly exposed to pollution from vehicle on a very busy road..

  2. Lizebeth says:

    A wonderful idea. I will definitely submit a photo of the next one I find. I would love to have a map and go hunting for these evocations of the past.
    Thanks, Ian, for letting your readers know about this project.

  3. Mike says:

    Great that Historic England is doing this, but they are not the only ones, indeed a little late to the game. For example, this guy is brilliant, does walks and talks, and has produced a fab book all about London signs… https://ghostsigns.co.uk/about/
    also the book:
    https://ghostsigns.co.uk/publications/book/

    • ianVisits says:

      That website is already cited in the article, and they’re working with him and have a video of his on their website.

  4. Reaper says:

    I am delighted to hear this. There are any number around but they are fast disappearing due to redevelopment, gentrification and anno domini. There are a cluster in Redhill on the Brighton road next to the rail line that I particularly like. Must check the map.

    • Reaper says:

      Unfortunately when I access the map it doesnt show any pins or details. Not a brilliant start

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