The writings on the wall

Ghost signs – those faded advertisements for long forgotten businesses – found 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.


Over 160 ghost signs are featured in a new book researched, written and published by Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott – two local historians well known for previous publications on pubs, canals, railways and the city of Bath itself.


This latest book reveals a hidden urban history with the ghost signs featured arranged in a series of short walks and with historic maps to guide you through the city streets.


I met up with Andrew and asked him to tell me more about this early form of commercial advertising.

Ghost Signs of Bath – by Andrew Swift and Kirsten Elliott – is published by Akeman Press and is available in many of Bath’s better bookshops for £16.99. You can also get it direct via


    1. Bryan Chalker emailed me to say ………..

      ‘ Full marks to Kirsten Elliott and Dr. Andrew Swift for highlighting Bath’s period signage in their new book. The restoration of these beautiful and evocative old signs was something I tried to achieve when first becoming a Lambridge councillor but was thwarted by Elgar Jenkins and others. No surprise there! The usual ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ bleat was used as an excuse and then, of course, came cost but why not put the task over to art students who, under safety supervision, could probably do the job just as well as expensive and professional signwriters?’

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