Saturday, 22 May 2010

Old faded puzzle.

This is confusing me.  In Lewisham, opposite the clock tower, there's the old RACs building which stood next door to the now-disappeared department store Chiesmans.  From the dates engraved on the tower, as well as by the style of architecture, this building was there by 1933.
Now, if you look to the building immediately to the right, there's a faded blue wall poster.

What I don't understand is why is it there?  It's not legible from the road and you can't go between the two buildings.  This is about as much as you can see:

It's advertising a building society, the ????perance  Building Society.  (Temperance?)  and they had an address in Somewhere  Hill, EC4.  There's a very faded logo at the top and odd words that are still legible (???? your house).

Clearly, there's no point in putting up a sign where it can't be seen.  Two possibilities spring to mind.  First, that the advert preceded the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society building.  But this would make the sign 80 years old.  Surely paint wouldn't have lasted that well.

Second possibility: the sign was put there deliberately to be seen by RACS customers as they went up and down the stairs, assuming that the stairwells to the upper sales floor ran down to that side of the building.   Something in the back of my mind tells me that this is the correct explanation.  However, the windows running along that side are small and none too plentiful.  Even if the stairs did run up that side of the building, no one would have got a good view. 

Does anybody know the answer?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Little hills and a faded sign

Though London is pretty flat by many cities' standards, there are still some pretty short sharp climbs in south east London to get the muscles working.  Covering the southern end of Brockley as part of my radial route routine, I found myself climbing over Blythe Hill from various angles.  Though it only reaches a height of about 200 feet a couple of ascents were enough to see me staggering to a park bench at the top, where a passing young woman gave me a wry you-must-be-mad grin.  Though, as she must have also walked over the top voluntarily, maybe it was a look of complicit understanding.

Anyhow as I waited for the rest of my thigh muscles to follow the rest of my body up the hill I was treated to the sight of 3 long-tailed tits hovering like humming birds, with their tails pointed vertically downwards, like makeshift airbrakes, around a flowering bush.  Just too far away to get a picture of them - besides, they'd flitted off to another part of the park by the time I'd dug my camera out - but here's a view looking south from the top of Blythe Hill.  It looks curiously unlondonlike yet it's only a couple of miles from Deptford.
And then on way back to Deptford I noticed this sign alongside Brockley Road at the end of Whatman Road.  I suppose I'd always been watching the traffic whenever I'd passed before.
Consolations of insomnia.  Looking west from my balcony on Crossfields, the Greenwich Novotel turns to gold in the early morning sun.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Camberwell Beauty

It's funny, the only time I've seen a Camberwell Beauty was in France.  This is the nearest I've come to seeing one in London.  It's on the side of the public baths in Burgess Park.  Is it tempting fate to mention that it almost felt like summer might be on its way today?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Faded Fangs

If you go by bike you see more of your surroundings than if you were driving.  But I was reminded yesterday that if you go by foot and have a wandering eye, you'll see even more.  Walking over to Ditch Alley from Egerton Drive, I spotted a wall sign that I must have passed thousands of times.  I must also have stopped seeing it at some point, probably way back in the 1960s until it disappeared from my seeing eye under what I'll call the blindness of familiarity.  It's on the Blackheath Road end of Egerton Drive on the west side:

A closer look will reveal the words

???? 10 till 7
10 till 2 Saturday

I wonder why they'd chosen the word ''artificial'' instead of ''false'' - I suppose it might have been following the expression ''artificial limb.''  After all, we wouldn't dream of calling a prosthesis, say, a fake leg, we'd simply call it an artificial leg.

This faded sign is just 50, 60 yards up Blackheath Road, where the Taylor & Sons sign remains.


Perhaps some of our road markings could also be classed as faded signs.  They certainly can be as fascinating and undecipherable.  Here's a landing strip for a Vertical Take Off and Landing Bicycle.  It's a bit small so it would require a very skilled bicycle pilot to get both wheels in the box.  (Apparently, because it's surrounded by a continuous line it would be illegal to cycle into it.)  

Its main function, of course, is simply to accustom drivers to ignore bike lanes and routinely drive over them.

Oh look, there's another one on the other side of the road...perhaps it's a game of hopscotch

Seriously though, I've no idea what the point of them is.  And I'd lay odds that drivers won't know either.


Finally, just because I was passing, here's the Beerseller's Asylum on Nunhead Green.  I saw the name on the old Stanford map and the very idea of it has made me smile every since.  It's between the Nun's Head and the Pyrotechnic's Arms.

Monday, 3 May 2010


Spotted at Tescos early this bank holiday Monday after a beautifully car-free morning ride (but, my, was it cold!)...

This bike certainly wasn't built for speed, with its big road-hugging motor cycle tyres and its absence of gears, and neither was it built for doing the shopping - no baskets or pannier racks - yet shopping is what its owner appears to have been doing.  I particularly like its straight-V handlebars.

Though they have been making odd-looking bikes for quite some time.  Here's one with an early suspension system that I have had lying around on my hard drive for a while

The outer rim is sprung, and it would apparently have worked like serial shock absorbers as the wheels went round.  I was surprised to see a penny-farthing with drop handlebars.

(I would say where I found this photo but I can't remember apart from the fact that it was in a bike museum somewhere in the Netherlands.  Or was it Denmark?)

And when it comes to complicated-looking engineering, how about the bike park at Silkmills?  I still haven't quite worked out how this thing works - how do you get your bike onto the upper level? Note that the resident cyclists don't seem to be using the 2nd tier. But it's got to be the  most fiendish bike park I've ever seen.

Just because I happened to be passing with a camera, here's the Ladywell ghost sign.  There is a better photo of it on the site, taken I believe by Caroline of Caroline's Miscellany.  Bolton Corner, where Ladywell Road reached the north end of Rushey Green.  Bolton & Co also had a shop on The Pavement, Ladywell.  And I don't know where that might be, or have been - presumably down by the station.