Ghost Signs of Bath

by Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott

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.

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.

This book tells 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.

Over 160 ghost signs are featured, arranged by area into a series of short walks, with historic maps to guide you through the city streets. Ghost signs in the suburbs and surrounding villages, as well as in Bradford on Avon and Corsham, are also included, and the book ends with an intriguing look at Bath’s lost ghost signs.