Ghost signs – those faded advertisements for long defunct businesses on the walls of old buildings – are among the most potent reminders of a bygone age – and nowhere are they found in greater abundance or variety than on the streets of Bath.
Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott are the founders of Akeman Press and the leading historians on the city of Bath. They will take you on a walk and trace the history of over 130 of Bath’s ghost signs, revealing which are the most intriguing and why.
Long a source of fascination for visitors and residents alike, signs for forgotten trades such as brushmakers, corn factors and perfumers still jostle for attention alongside modern shopfronts. Canalside coal wharves, a pump room where Jane Austen’s brother took the waters, the sinister-sounding Asylum for Teaching Young Females Household Work, and a Regency tea warehouse – all still proclaim their ghostly presence a century or more after they closed their doors for ever.
Their book – and this accompanying walk – will tell the story behind these tantalising echoes from the past. Trawling through old newspapers, deeds and documents to discover when and why the signs were painted, the authors have revealed a hidden history of the city.