Hackney ghost sign crowned one of the best in London

Bloom's Pianos
For Perfection
Call or Write 134 Kingsland Rd
Phone Bishopsgate 9087

The 134 Kingsland Road Bloom's Piano sign came second in an online ghost sign tournament. - Credit: © Roy Reed 2018

After six gruelling rounds of knockout competition on Twitter, Bloom's Piano's 'ghost sign' on Kingsland Road has been crowned second best in London. 

Life-long Hackney resident Sam Roberts, also known as Mr Ghostsigns and co-author of the book Ghost Signs: A London History, hosted the tournament after becoming fascinated with the fading remains of hand-painted advertising signs. 

He said: "It all started for me in Stoke Newington with the Walker Bros/Waterman's sign [on Church Street]."

Walker Bros fountain pen sign on Stoke Newington Church Street. 

Walker Bros fountain pen sign on Stoke Newington Church Street. - Credit: © Roy Reed 2018

The online competition saw 5,000 votes cast with the best ghost sign in the capital given to Peterkin Custard on St John's Hill in Battersea. 

Ghost signs, also known as fading ads, are vintage painted signs displayed on old brick buildings across London.

Bloom's Pianos sign on Kingsland Road, next to the Museum of the Home, came in second place.


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Bloom was the adopted name of Russian immigrant and master cabinet maker Philip Blumher who spent more of the 1930s trading in Shoreditch.

This Peterkin Custard sign on Sangora Road was voted the best ghost sign in London.

This Peterkin Custard sign on Sangora Road was voted the best ghost sign in London. - Credit: Roy Reed 2012

Sam said: "This sign has a little bit of everything: scale; illustration; confident language; elastic lettering; and the sign writer's signature. It’s also in palimpsest, but the older layer is so far impossible to make out.

"In 2012 the sign was added to the Local List at Hackney Council in recognition of its artistic and aesthetic merit, and historical value. However, this hasn’t prevented the graffiti that is gradually creeping up the wall."

A Book about ghost signs in London.

A book about ghost signs created by Sam Roberts and Roy Reed, and produced thanks to a successful crowd funder. - Credit: Sam Roberts and Roy Reed

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Third place went to Meggezones on Noyna Road in Tooting. 

Sam's book Ghost Signs: A London Story, published by Hackney's Isola Press, showcases ghost signs across the city. 

Sixty-four entrants were shortlisted for the online competition from the 250 fading painted wall signs whose stories are told in the book. 

Third place went to Buy Meggezones For Coughs, Colds & Catarrh Nettle's “Tussodyne” sign.

Third place went to Buy Meggezones For Coughs, Colds & Catarrh Nettle's “Tussodyne” the Cough Healer on Noyna Road. - Credit: Roy Reed

The book was produced thanks to a fundraiser which has seen almost £30,000 pledged. 

Other ghost signs in Hackney include Cakebread Robey & Co at a former builders merchants on Tyssen Road and Hartcraft sign which advertised a furniture-making business once run by Elizabeth Hart on Minerva Street. 

Cakebread Robey and Co sign on Tyssen Road. 

Cakebread Robey and Co sign on Tyssen Road in Hackney. - Credit: © Roy Reed 2018

Player's Please is another sign advertising Player's cigarettes on Kemey's Street on the corner of Kenworthy Road.

To support visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/isolapress/ghost-signs-a-london-story?ref=5q5pq6

HartcraftModern UpholsteryCabinet MakersUpholsterers &Chair Frame Makers sign.

Hartcraft Modern Upholstery Cabinet Makers Upholsterers & Chair Frame Makers sign on Minerva Street. - Credit: Roy Reed 2021

Advert for Player's cigarettes, only partially visible now due to earlier protection by a billboard.

Advert for Player's cigarettes, only partially visible now due to earlier protection by a billboard. Can be see on Kemey's Street in Hackney. - Credit: Sam Roberts


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