Historic England is asking for the public’s help in mapping ‘ghost signs’; historic hand-painted advertising on buildings.

From today the public can upload photos and information about their local signs to the Historic England website.

19-22 Charlotte Road, South Shoreditch, Hackney, London View from Mills Court © Historic England Archive

Historic England defines ‘ghost signs’ as historic advertisements, preserved on buildings which have since changed use.

Often found in urban areas, the often faded signs are a clue toward architectural, cultural and social history, it said. It hopes to help in collecting images and information about locally loved ghost signs, while allowing the public to visit and explore them in person and online.

Nos.43-44 High Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk. Painted Town Hall Stores sign, established in 1837 (© Historic England Archive)

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “Once you start looking up on high streets and hunting for ghost signs, you’ll find that they’re hidden in plain sight, tucked away down alleyways or hiding among rooftops.

“These mysterious pieces of secret history are a special reminder of the people who came before us, and the urban spaces and high streets they made their own.

“We want to hear what people know and love about their local ghost signs, and to create a map that we can all use to explore this evocative part of our urban heritage.”

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