Sunday, October 21, 2012

For a limited time only...Melbourne's best ghost sign cluster

On the weekend I visited the leafy eastern suburb of Surrey Hills, to pay homage to a particularly brilliant collection of ghost signs uncovered by a building demolition in the Surrey Hills shopping village. My thanks to Leon Sims for first recording these on his blog: (

Before I went, I'd seen on Leon's blog that one of the walls had both a Robur Tea and a Medallion Foods sign. Both companies were clients of the Lewis and Skinner company, whose company records I uncovered in February at a demolition site, and for which I'm creating an online archive (see: So I thought this discovery was of particular interest.

However I didn't expect to find this, the first tangible link between the company and the signs they painted, as recorded on a well-preserved wall of signs that looked like they had been created last week:

Was I delighted? That would be an understatement. The local genteel, well-heeled residents would have been wondering about the crazy guy jumping up and down in excitement on a pile of rubble, phone camera in hand.

It's possible that I might also have the actual job listed in the Lewis & Skinner website: Most details (address, wall details) are nearly but not exactly right. The job sheet mentions the corner of Union Road and Canterbury Road - the uncovered signs are nearby but not on the actual corner. The wall sketch looks similar but not exactly the same. Also, the preserved remnants of a poster pasted on the wall suggests that the signs may have been covered up in around 1951 (not the 1956 date listed in the job sheet):

What follows is a photo essay of sorts comprising some 30 photos or so, of a site that until a few weeks ago looked like this, according to Google Street View:

Of course, the uncovered signs obviously won't be around (or, at least, visible) for much longer. They're on both walls revealed by the demolition: a Robur, Medallion and Nestle sign on one wall, a massive Bushell's sign and Orlando Wines poster, pasted on top of another sign it seems, on the other.

 So, as they say, I made hay with the iPhone camera while the sun shined on this spring day:

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