Ghost train (sign)

Ghost signs have fascinated me for a while.

Once a common advertising feature used up and down the UK, brands would literally paint their names and messages onto the bricks of a house to raise awareness of their products. Now fading from the elements or simply lost through redevelopment and destruction of the older buildings they once adorned, it’s less common to spot examples like the one below.

Ghost train (sign)


This faded example found opposite Hampstead Heath station advertises trips between London and Scotland for now defunct train company London and North Eastern Railway. The LNER formed in 1921 as a result of the Railway Act and continued as a company until the nationalisation of UK railways in 1948.

Although aware of them for quite a few years, it wasn’t until I was confronted with the war-time missive ‘Take Courage’ (painted for the then Blitz embattled population of London) which still looms above the train tracks near London Bridge station that I started actively looking for them in my travels.

I’m not the only one with an appreciation for these so called ghost signs, they have quite a following. The History of Advertising society has a great resource full of examples for all potential ghost sign hunters to take a look at. You can also help preserve these fascinating pieces of social history by submitting your own images to the archive.

One day, I may even get around to taking the self-guided tour featured by the Telegraph, but for now, I’m enjoying stumbling upon these windows into our recent past one at a time.

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