The 'Acme' of ghost signs
I came across this exhumed shop sign today at the north end of Great Eastern Street, where Finsbury edges into Shoreditch. What a wonderfully dated business name! (Acme, if you are wondering, comes from the Greek word for peak).
The work on these premises have been progressing at a glacial pace - it seems that 'Acme Electric Co (Finsbury)' has been enjoying a public reprise for a couple of years. Another ghost sign enthusiast has discovered that the business once sold electrical calculators, transistor radios and cassette recorders.
All things that feel about as dated as the term 'Acme' - and yes, that was the name of the corporation in Looney Tunes and Wile E. Coyote!.
'Finsbury Van and Wheel Works'
I came across this grand old sign this morning. I hadn't spotted it before. A huge sign on the gable end of a wall at the eastern extremity of Clerkenwell Road, near the Old Street roundabout, now overlooking a petrol station. It's about a century old, and graces the side of what was once St Luke's school building.
Finsbury is now a forgotten area - constantly confused with Finsbury Park, about four miles away. The Borough of Finsbury was created in 1900 out of the vestries of Clerkenwell and of St Luke's to the east. Then in 1965 it became the most southerly constituent of the London Borough of Islington.You can get a better sense of the size and situation of the sign from this photo on the right.
Islington Council, bless them, has done a bit of digging into the story of the building and the sign - copied below from this site:
The site of the Shell petrol station at 198-208 Old Street EC1V 9FR has been identified by Islington Council as a ‘Site Specific Allocation’ (BC21) in the Bunhill and Clerkenwell Area Action Plan (draft 11-2010). We make this written comment further to a drop-in consultation meeting with a planning officer on 9th December, 2010 at Finsbury Library. East flank wall window of St. Luke's school building 188-194 Old Street EC1V 9FR
A window in the flank wall of our premises on the third floor of St. Luke's school building overlooks the Shell site. This window dates from 1912, with the rest of the building having been constructed in the 1870s & 1880s. A previous outline planning application submitted by Shell UK in 1999 (to which we objected) proposed only a small light well to accommodate the presence of this window. Such an accommodation would represent a serious deterioration of the light and aspect to our window and premises, which we use for educational purposes. We would ask that the Site Allocation for the Shell site should be subject to a constraint requiring that any future development of the Shell site should take full account of this window and not be allowed to result in an unreasonable deterioration of the light and aspect that it provides.
Finsbury Van & Wheelworks sign
There is also a historic sign (dating from the early 20th century) on the East flank wall of St. Luke's school building. This sign points to the site of the ‘Finsbury Van & Wheelworks’ formerly located to the rear where 196 Old St. now is. Our landlord has gone to the trouble of repairing this sign. It would be good to preserve the visibility of this sign from the street as an interesting indicator of the former industrial history of the area. So many of the older buildings in the immediate area have gone due to wartime bombing or unsightly 1960s redevelopment. Much has been lost including the magnificent former St. Luke’s asylum, the ‘City of London Lying in Hospital’, and the Almshouses in Bath Street. What little remains should be preserved. This sign does not appear on the list of ‘Historic items’ in the draft Area Action Plan (Appendix 3) and we feel that it should be included there and that this sign should be taken into account as a constraint in the specification of Site Allocation BC21 on heritage conservation grounds.
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