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Friday, 25 July 2014

Old signs - now you see them, now you don't ...





The photo below is of Albert Edward Olds, standing proudly outside his bootmaker's shop window, with his name on the sign above it, which was located at 231 Church Rd, St George, Bristol. The date of the photo is not known, but Albert had 'followed in the footsteps' of his father William Olds, who was also a bootmaker, and this is the occupation recorded for him in the 1881 Census when he was 14, and in subsequent censuses. 


Albert married Mary Ann Patt in 1889 in Bristol Gloucestershire and they had seven sons, five of whom are pictured here with their parents. One died young, another was killed in World War I, after having been  awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, and 'Little Arthur' who was the youngest son  lived to the age of 100. Fifth son Francis George Olds was my husband's grandfather, and husband of another centenarian Doris Newth, about whom I've blogged previously, for example here. The Olds family lived above the shop, and the grandchildren recall that Albert kept chickens in the yard behind the shop, and that there was always a basket of eggs for sale in the shop window, along with the shoes. 


Albert Olds died in 1939 aged 73 after falling and breaking his leg, and none of his sons had adopted the trade of their father or grandfather, so by 1940 the shop had become a gentlemen's outfitters. I haven't specifically researched its history in the intervening seventy plus years, but below is what it looks like today. I doubt if Albert would have approved, but perhaps he might feel that a shop selling 'Stuff' was preferable to the kebab shop next door. The shop front layout certainly looks very different, with even the doorway in a different place.  

Wider street view of Church Rd, snipped from Google Maps



Another kind of sign I thought I would mention here is the old advertisement painted on walls, which often gets hidden by development, but can sometimes be revealed briefly when an adjoining wall next door is knocked down, preparatory to a new building being constructed. This sign in High St Armadale for Bournville Cocoa is no longer visible, being obscured by a solid brick wall erected flush against it that is part of the block of 11 apartments being constructed next door, but I noticed and snapped it earlier this year when it became exposed for a short period. I don't know how old the sign is, but it seems to be in quite good condition, perhaps because it hasn't been open to the effects of sunlight and weathering for some considerable time. From the second photograph, which comes from from the web site of the developer, it looks like there might have been a large photograph below the sign, perhaps a gathering of people enjoying their cocoa. My glimpse from behind the hoarding couldn't see that, or perhaps it wasn't revealed at the time.





The following two walls of advertisements for various products are on walls either side of a construction site, also in High St Armadale, and are still exposed, but not for long. The sad thing is that once a building has gone, whether historic or not, it's often hard to remember what it looked like, but thankfully there are still a number of commercial buildings on High St that date back to the 1880s.




For more old signs, old buildings and more, check out Sepia Saturday 238

16 comments:

  1. Stuff! Now there's a proprietor with a sense of humor. I guess he isn't committed to selling anything in particular; he can just have a revolving door of goodies and see what fetches the most money.

    Love the signs painted on buildings.

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  2. How wonderful to have a photograph of a shop, linked ot an ancestor. . I always find vintage advertisements very appealing.

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  3. Enjoyed your bootmaker story And well done snapping those signs while they were still visible. A reminder to all of us to keep our eyes open for changes in our local landscape.

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  4. I enjoyed this post from start to finish.

    I agree with Sue; how wonderful to have a photograph of a shop and be able to directly link to an ancestor! Also loved the Cadbury sign. I would have take a photo of it too!
    Today's advertising is so boring and wont last!

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  5. A neat post! I love the story about Albert and his shop sign, and I have to agree with you - those old painted signs are so interesting, I wish more work was put into restoring and keeping them around!

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  6. Re: Albert's shop: it always makes me sad when the old and original isn't good enough and someone comes along to alter it into something different and much less appealing (in my opinion). That original storefront was very handsome! I, too, love the old painted signs on the sides of buildings. They are mostly gone in our part of the world. One only seems them very rarely these days.

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  7. I rather like that title, STUFF, it certainly explains a lot in many stores! great old signs.

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  8. Great presence of mind to take those shots in Armadale - a little snip of history which would otherwise have been lost.

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  9. The "Stuff" sign would draw me into that store right now! Nothing like perusing "stuff" - good, bad, or otherwise!

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  10. I love that "Little Arthur" lived to be 100. I bet he saw a few signs in his life.

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  11. A terrific post! The change from Boots to Stuff has caught the perfect spin on the theme. I think it was Howard over at Postcards Then and Now that introduced the term "ghost signs" for those fading remnants of old advertising.

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  12. A great bunch of signs, both old and new.

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  13. Clever idea, the signs that live on like ghosts. I agree with the others here about "Stuff". We have a chain called Big Lots that in fact sells Stuff and is fun to poke around. We say the name around here with a heavy French accent..."Bigelot".

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  14. For me the ghost of Albert permeated this post --- not just with his story, which was rather intiguing (for what was and was not said) but also the ghost of signs of the past. Great idea.

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  15. I’m so glad that you have a photo of your ancestor actually outside his shop and what an interesting post. Thank goodness you and the developer had the foresight to snap that old sign before it was covered over once more.

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    1. i do think however that the developer might have tried to do something to preserve the sign. They could have adapted their plans to make it a feature wall for the unit residents even if it couldn't be seen by the public, rather than hiding completely from sight with a concrete wall.

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