Fading away

Collector John Rymer explains his fascination with the ghostly painted advertisements of yesteryear

Most likely they have survived through neglect, shielded perhaps by buildings, billboards or trees. They may reappear briefly on a building site, be visible for a few days, and then be buried under a fresh coat of paint. A few are preserved through nostalgia. Others through indifference.

Ghost sign in Redcar

Ghost sign in Redcar

They’re called “ghost signs”, the fading advertisements painted onto buildings that recall a bygone era before global brands dominated, when local retailers and tradesmen could promote their goods and services with the swish of a paint brush.

John Rymer began collecting photographs of north east ghost signs four years ago, when he happened upon one in Redcar. “Despite seeing this bus station sign for the last 30 years, it was the first time I’d actually noticed it.”


Read the full version in The Northern Correspondent #8