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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

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