Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Osnabruck Square, Albert Rd, Derby, Derbyshire, 2010 • Coffee kiosk established in 1960 and named, bizarrely, after an 19th Century anti-slavery novel. Still there, despite rumours in […]
Medcalf, 40 Exmouth Market, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2003 • Traditional butcher in the process of being turned into a trendy eaterie, which kept the name and signage. That […]
GMT Cafe, 38 Woolwich Road, Borough of Greenwich, London SE10, 2002 • Classic greasy spoon named after Greenwich Mean Time, which originates nearby. (Note also the naive cheery chef signboard, […]
Millennium Pizza, 119 Woolwich Road, Borough of Greenwich, London SE10, 2002 • That jellyfish in its 2000 logo is in fact the nearby Millennium Dome (as the O2 was once […]
The Greenwich Millennium, 44 Woolwich Road, Borough of Greenwich, London SE10, 2002 • A short-lived (and grubby) celebration of 2000, near Millennium Grill. The premises went on to have a […]
Millennium Charcoal Grill Kebabs, 30 Woolwich Road, Borough of Greenwich, London SE10, 2002 • Part of an entire row of Greenwich shops that named themselves after the 2000 millennium. Unusually, […]
J.C. Smith, 63 Deptford High Street, Borough of Lewisham, London SE8, 2003 • Beautiful hand lettered sign matched by calligraphic graffiti tag. The sign was still there in 2017, but […]
Ice Cream Kiosk, Promenade, Bognor Regis, West Sussex, 2003 • Ah, the sunny south coast seaside (not).
Happy Swan, 39 Chipstead Valley Road, Coulsdon, Borough of Croydon, London, 2001 • Classic plastic sign and festive plant hierarchy in window. Still exactly the same in 2017 (minus Christmas […]
Cyclone, 6-8 Whitchurch Lane, Edgware, Borough of Barnet, London HA8, 2004 • Not entirely convincing attempt at replicating a Greek temple. Later became a sports bar called Trilogy.
Dallas, 52 Battersea Park Road, Battersea, Borough of Wandsworth, LondonSW11, 2002 • Blue walker.
Lahoree House, Victoria House, 7 Wilton Road, Victoria, City of Westminster, London SW1, 2004 • Slice of grungy old London in a historic head-lined building outside Victoria Station, now undergoing […]
Flakes Catering, 46 Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2002 • Old geezer meets trad signwriting. Later became a Labour party office.
Balti Raj, 142 Balls Pond Road, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2002 • Ah, the colourful confusion of London. By 2016 was the trendier-sounding Rusty Bike Kitchen.
Fidan Kebab, St George’s Circus, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2002 • That’s some fat kebab.
Concourse Burger Bar, Concourse House, Lime Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • Hand-drawn mixed messages on Scouse burger bar. The entire building was demolished to build new offices some time after […]
Sea Spray, 18 High Street, St Margarets Buildings, Rottingdean, East Sussex, 2004 • Classic seaside caff facade with deck chair fabric awnings and lone Scottie dog tile. In business for 67 years […]
Neal’s Corner Sandwich Shop, 1 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, Borough of Camden, London WC2, 2003 • Named after Neal Street, not a bloke called Neal. In fact, this entire corner […]
Poseidon, 102 High Road, Finchley, Borough of Barnet, London N2 • I always like it when ancient gods are namechecked. By 2008 this had expanded into the next shop and […]
Caf´e Paradise, 116 Chingford Mount Road, Borough of Waltham Forest, London E4, 2016 • Divine accent intervention.
Yank Pizza, 28 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Unfortunate name.
Woks Wong, The Mikado Buildings, 79 Elm Grove, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Punning Chinese takeaway in the aptly oriental Mikado Buildings, named after the Gilbert & Sullivan opera. The […]
The French, 190 Albert Road, Southsea, City ofPortsmouth, 2016 • Brightly shuttered ex-bakery with what looks like an original 1930s sign, possibly dating from the legend that reads: “Prop R.S. […]
Pompey on a Roll, 210 Albert Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Punning eaterie with optimistic Portsmouth FC-themed name. No one seems to know why Portsmouth is called Pompey, […]
Zoe’s Gobble & Go, Westgate Terrace, Folkestone, Kent, 2002 • Immobilised mobile snack bar with less-than-enticing name. I found it somewhere round here.
New Star, 8a Holmesdale Road, Reigate, Surrey, 2002 • Unusual ‘evening lunch’ offer meets impressive 1960s door handle at a matching angle. New Star’s DIY branding remained completely unchanged until 2014, and though the […]
Wok Inn, 88 High Street, Reigate, Surrey, 2002 • Always nice to see a pun on Wok. Later became Mexicode Fresh Mexican Kitchen, leaving the nearest wok outlet as Gourmet Wok, […]
The Forum, 8-9 Market Place, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Art deco cinema still in operation, complete with with cafe and built-in J.D. Wetherspoons. It’s Northumberland’s only full-time cinema, and has […]
The Hexham Tans Vegetarian Restaurant, 11 St Mary’s Chare, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Palimpsest on oddly-named charity veggie caff, closed after 20 years. It soon reopened as Hextol Tans, offering “vegan-friendly, lacto” […]
Arthur Toms, 84 Chatsworth Road, Clapton, Borough of Hackney, London E5, 2011 • Until 2010 this was a Chinese takeaway called Friends, though clearly it had previously been an eel and […]
Jim’s Cafe, 59 Chatsworth Road, Clapton, Borough of Hackney, London E5, 2011 • Italian cafe from the 1960s that once housed an ice cream factory, and closed circa 2008 when the […]
Ellis’s Tearoom, Rothley Station, Great Central Railway, Rothley, Leicestershire, 2016 • Restored ghostsign for a Coke, Corn and Cake Merchants, now just selling cake on this heritage steam railway.
Griddle, Loughborough Central Station, Great Central Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • One-time restaurant carriage with a wonderful name. There’s already a Griddle car operating on the Great Central heritage steam line, so this is […]
Platform Cafe, Leicester North Station, The Sidings, Leicester LE4, 2016 • Cute cafe signs in heritage station that sends steam engines along the main line to Loughborough’s defunct Central Station. […]
The Turkey Cafe, 24 Granby Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Tiled turkey on 1901 art nouveau fantasia by important Leicester architect Arthur Wakerley (who, as we shall see, was a man of […]
Golden Horse, Weekes, 178 Fawcett Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Fantastical handcrafted takeaway next to unit with 1950s-looking ghost sign. There was a garage elsewhere in Southsea called Weekes […]
Holy, 540 Holloway Road, Borough of Islington, London N7, 2016 • Unusual name for a Chinese takeaway – perhaps they meant divine. But it seemed a good option for Christmas day…
New Peking Inn (Playpaint), Milroy Walk, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2011 (top) and 2001 (bottom two) • From Chinese food to fine art in grim 1970s precinct that’s now […]
Woolworths, Pizza Hut (Glasgow), 199-201 Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland, 2008 • Jaunty red modernist corner abutting one of the last 200 Woolworths stores to close down. The fatal day was 6 Jan 2009; […]
Pitchers (Caffe Nero), 91 High Street, Godalming, Surrey, 2016 • Attractive ghost-step for a knitwear emporium, now leading to a Caffe Nero. Pitchers was a sports sweater manufacturer founded in the 1880s […]
Chung’s, 1012 Govan Road, Govan, Glasgow G51, Scotland, 2010 • Special dishes in long trays – what more could you want? Still there in 2015.
Servewell Cafe, West Lane, Southwark, London SE16, 2001 • Nice name – though you wouldn’t call it Servebadly Cafe, would you. It’s now got a double frontage and a new […]
Causette, circa Arwenack Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, 1981 • Faded 1960s-style cafe facade rocking Profil font, and doubtless offering unappetising old-school espresso. I don’t know what’s there now, but it was […]
Cyber Café, Unit 1, New Broadway, Tarring Road, Worthing, West Sussex, 1999 • Hand-painted digital type meets 1960s mosaic on this sad closed down internet cafe. By 2015 the unit housed Attic Solutions, […]
Empire Milk Bar, Picadilly Circus Tube Station, City of Westminster, London W1, 1988 • True fact – there was a 1930s-style milk bar operational in the orange-columned depths of Piccadilly Circus tube […]
Olympia Dining Rooms, 5-6 Wincott Parade, Kennington Road, Kennington, Borough of Lambeth, London SE11, 1988 • An original ‘Dining Rooms’ photographed just as it was closing down. Who knew that […]
Ying Ho, London Shoe Rebuilder J. Poole, 232 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW15, 1981 • Now for a few really ancient shots I took from a bus […]
Woo Lot, 592 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, Borough of WalthamForest, London E10, 2016 • Great name, great (literally) sign.
Famished Cafe, 2 Kilburn Bridge, Kilburn, Borough of Brent, London NW6, 2012 • Nice name on a colourful frontage, now replaced by Roosters Piri Piri.
Tonys Hemp Corner, 10 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2010 • Creepy flower-child fascia for controversial cannabis cafe whose proprietor Tony Taylor supplied ‘medicinal’ marijuana to nearly 300 […]
Tan’s Cafe, 3 Amersham Vale, New Cross, Borough of Lewisham, London SE14, 2010 • Gaudy mini-kingdom of breakfast opposite New Cross Station. Possibly the only greasy spoon with a loyalty […]
Kam Garden, 14 Bouverie Road West, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Sweet green Chinese-style rooflet which stayed even after it went Indian as Copper and Spices.
Pizza King, 115 Sandgate Road, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Incongruous in its grand portal despite the regal name. Now called Master Kebab.
Subway, 69 Chapel Market, Islington, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2016 • Boring fast food chain, lovely old door window. Actually I like the Subway logo, it’s an exuberant piece […]
New Happy Swan, 120 Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill, Borough of Haringey, London N10, 2016 • Old happy paint job in Muswell Hill’s distinctive St James’s Parade, by Edwardian developer James […]
Cat & Cucumber Café, 182 Tower Bridge Road, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2003 • Nice name, wayward accent, grim rear aspect. Popular and still-extant greasy spoon once immortalised in […]
Vivian Patisserie, 62 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Its patisserie identity seems to predate the Chinese cafe within. Back in 2008 it was […]
A. Cooke’s, Joe Coral (Fabric House Ltd), 48, 46 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Founded 1899, and located at this address since 1934, […]
Grant’s Fish Bar, 14 Upper High Street, Epsom, Surrey, 2002 • Notable for its mutant fish illustration. By 2015 it was chicken joint Maxy Express.
Nanny Janet’s, 22 Milton Road, Gravesend, Kent, 2015 • Unusual family-based name for a burger bar.
Granny’s Kitchen, 38 Westoe Road, South Shields, 2013 • Shiny black plastic for Granny. What a pity the shutters were down on the day I passed by, it’s all curtained […]
Gio’s Kitchen, 79 Lower Marsh, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2004 • The windows look like a Sarah Lucas artwork and the flag couldn’t save it. One of many short-lived cafes on this […]
Giovanni’s Room Wine Bar, 42 Theobalds Road, Borough of Camden, London WC1, 2003 • Faded 1970s chalet chic with name like a dodgy erotic novel – love the standalone door awning. I’ve already published its […]
Giovanni Hair Artiste, Cosmo Chicken Bar, 936, 934 Govan Road, Govan, Glasgow G51, Scotland, 2010 • Ambitious titles meet random plastic typography and very old coke branding. Still there in 2015, though it […]
Sunshine Cafe, 36 Hanway Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2003 • Cheerful back alley jerk joint hindered by London downpour. Later became Vinyl Bar, and developers knocked the other side […]
Olympic Internet Cafe, 24 West Ham Lane, Borough of Newham, London E15, 2006 • Not the most exciting shopfront, but a nice hand-painted sign with old-style phone. And just look at […]
Cafe Olympic, 156 The Grove, Stratford, Borough of Newham, London E15, 2006 • Pallid colours on their way out. It’s now Babylon Kebabs, but in 2014 you can see an […]
Olympic Bar Sandwich Restaurant, 130 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2003 (top), 2010 (middle), 2011 (bottom) • Chinese take-away boasting various wonky title hierarchies over the years: Olympic Bar Sandwich Restaurant (or […]
Vinces Snack Bar, 61 Red Lion Street, City of Westminster, London WC1, 2003 • Genuinely classic cafe, just crying out for an apostrophe. Apparently the period formica interior was ripped out […]
Sima Tandoori, 295 Bethnal Green Road, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2005 • I’d love to know what the statue and neon figures represent – Hindu deities or just people offering greetings? By 2008 all […]
Hel’s Kitchen, Anchor Bay Industrial Estate, Manor Road, Erith, Kent, 2014 • Surely all food is hot in Hell? (Although it’s not that hellish, it’s got a food hygiene rating of […]
Croft & Maitland, The Balti Express, 44 & 46 High Street, Leatherhead, Surrey, 2003 • Every town needs its Profil sign, though it’s not there any more. Croft & Maitland […]
Cafe, corner of Henry Street and Suffolk Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • Wonky hand-lettering for this generic cafe, which was still a derelict corner in 2014, despite being almost in the city […]
Sans’ Cafe, 2 Lightbody Street, Liverpool 3, 2008 • A famous greasy spoon for 40 years, albeit sans apostrophe knowledge. Owner Tseng Chikhao died in 2014; there’s a great article here. The […]
San-San, 59 Lime Street, Liverpool, 2003 • My last example of neon from Liverpool Chinatown’s traditional restaurants – a breed that are slipping away, as they have done in London. This one […]
China City, 48 Nelson Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • Austere by Chinatown standards, but I like the plasticky faux marble. These days it has no neon, looks even more functional, […]
Chow’s House, 26 Nelson Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • Traditional neon welcome that was still the same in 2014, but there are no reviews on Tripadvisor so the restaurant has presumably closed down.
North Garden Restaurant, 30 Nelson Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • Liverpool’s Chinatown used to have decorative frontages with nice neon, but signage has got more functional over the years. This restaurant is still there, but the neon […]
Ma Bo, 16 Nelson Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • Legendary old-school restaurant in Liverpool’s Chinatown, which has been going over 40 years and still looks the same. It gets generally excellent reviews for […]
Donor Kebab House, 36 Berry Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • There’s something rather delicate about this sign, it looks more like a knitting shop. Now, I think, Hot Chillis halal […]
Athena, 45 Lime Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • More Lime Street neon; still there, but they removed the word ‘kebabs’ so there’s a gap in the middle.
Newroz, 57 Lime Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • Lime Street, despite being in the centre of Liverpool, is noted for being run down. However there are some shops that make an […]
Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant, 54 Berry Street, Liverpool L1, 2003 • There used to be lots of nice old neon signage in Liverpool. This charming example is now totally gone, replaced […]
Personal Jesus sign, outside Shoreditch Grind, 213 Old Street, Borough of Islington, London EC1, 2013 • Sign outside trendy coffee shop Shorditch Grind at London’s grotty mini tech hub, Old Street Roundabout.
Greek Gods Taverna, 6 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, City of Westminster, London WC2, 2003 • Blimey. This became a branch of the famous trendy restaurant Polpo, itself a beautiful re-imagining of a […]
Guru Express, 139 Hersham Road, Walton on Thames, Surrey, 2002 • I’ll have a side-order of spiritual guidance with my pakoras, please. Still looks much the same nowadays.
Nige’s Lunchbox and Groceries, 32 Scale Lane, Kingston upon Hull, 2004 • A faded handwritten sign says: ‘Niges rugs + “carpets” no under lay though’, with a smaller note qualifying […]
Bungalows Cafe, 80 Mare Street, Borough of Hackney, London E8, 2007 • Another cafe with handily-placed church. Still there but not as attractive.
Marshfield Farm, St Nicholas Church, Pett Level Road, Hastings, East Sussex, 2015 • Handy snack-church combo, also incorporating jumble sale, on the long beach between Hastings and Rye.
Blessed, Peter Thomson Solicitor, 203 Coldharbour Lane, Borough of Lambeth, London SW9 • Traditional Brixton, getting harder to find.
Kabra Kebabra, 58 Coldharbour Lane, Borough of Lambeth, London SE5, 2015 • Coldharbour Lane seems to specialise in bonkers shop names. This one’s already quite famous on the internet. Not to […]
Rock Steady Eddies, 2a Coldharbour Lane, Borough of Southwark, London SE5 • Longstanding Camberwell landmark, famed as the nearest cheap cafe to Maudsley ‘mental hospital’ (to use the 1980s term). Reviews could […]
LJ’s Beach Bar, Brooklands, Jaywick Sands, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, 2013 • That’s barbed wire on top. Part of Jaywick Sands, apparently one of Britain’s most deprived areas, albeit with a vast […]
Herbert Best Kebabs & Pizza, 64 Herbert Road, Borough of Greenwich, London SE18, 2004 • Bold sign bearing the name of its superb old-school shopping road. Now called, more boringly, Delight.
F.O.T.O.P. Friends of the Old People, 4 Middle Street, Hastings, East Sussex, 2014 • Net-curtained cafe for the elderly. I thought it was closed down, but Google shows it later on […]
Elizabeths Restaurant, 30 Bridge Street, Sunderland, 2013 • Apostrophe-free diner that appears as traditional inside as out. That looks like the remnants of a shiny Brilliant-style Vitrolite facade under the […]
Quality Cafe, 3 Station Road South, Merstham, Surrey, 2001 • Beautiful station cafe. It’s now been modified with pale blue tiles and orange windows, and looks really weird. There’s an incredibly […]
Totteridge Brasserie, 36 Totteridge Lane, Whetstone, Borough of Barnet, London N20, 2011 • So good they named it twice. Now the somewhat smarter Tiffin Tin.
Taxi & cafe arches, canal towpath, beside bridge near Westbourne Park, Great Western Road, City of Westminster, London W9, 2011 • Towpath derelicton: it may be in Westminster, but gentrification […]
Cafe, side of 886 Garratt Lane, Tooting, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW17, 2006 • Subtle ghost sign which is still there. Typography suggests nineteen-teens.