Ghost Signs

Why Write on a Building?

“Banning of hanging signs in 1762 due to injuries and deaths caused by poorlu secured signs falling on pedestrians”

Helen Cox
The Preservation of Historic Signs – By Michael Auer

Although a law that only really affected London at the time, this would infiltrate the rest of the country and the use of signwriting on buildings by law (in London) would soon become a trend others would soon follow.

Great Yarmouth’s Ghost Signs

In my job (Graphic Designer at Great Yarmouth Borough Council) I have been working with Historic England, Heritage Action Zone, Norfolk Records Office and Norfolk Museums to create a trail for ghost signs in the town. The designed version can be seen below:

Looking Back at Previous Modules

In GDE 720 Histories and Futures I looked at ghost signs and the part they played in the history of Graphic Design. The full post can be seen here:

“typography is ubiquitous – Omnipresent and ever-present. They are like clothes for the words which can influence tone of voice and interpretation.”

Stuart Tolley

My Personal Reflection From That Week

“When it comes to Great Yarmouth, there are two clear divides in typography that appraise the historical context of the location.

There is the fun, whimsical typefaces that have developed over many years to signify to the viewer the enjoyment that can be had by stepping inside.

There are also ghost signs which have been rendered on the outside of buildings to indicate what services were on offer inside.

With the development of literacy and brand, signwriting became a profession in its own right. This afforded businesses and the signwriters themselves the opportunity to experiment with typography and form to denote feeling, tone of voice and style.

To me, there is a clear pathway from the signwriters who were taught as labourers in a school to those creating funfair graphics and branded elements on the side of buildings to the Graphic Designers we are today.

Great Yarmouth highlights this process and is proud of its heritage, culture and tourism. Something I hope to explore further going forward.”

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