A sign of things to come
Adam Davison | January 2016
Late last year we moved to London Bridge. While we were sad to leave Tech City – home of the pop-up shop phenomenon and the epicentre of “peak beard” – we love our new studio and have been taking time to explore the local area.

Previously an area characterised by run-down industrial wharfhouses and dark, derelict tunnels beneath rumbling trainlines, the borough of Southwark has been the beneficiary of massive redevelopment in the last decade. Norman Foster’s distinctive Assembly Hall is home to the Mayor of London and forms part of the very shiny More London complex. The most notable addition and a major new landmark is The Shard, courtesy of Renzo Piano which, as the tallest building in Western Europe, dominates the skyline. Whether or not you support the trend of bizarrely-shaped and literally-nicknamed skyscrapers – it’s undeniably impressive.

There is a wealth of history here too. Tower Bridge is a real-life fairytale structure and an industrial-scale electromagnet of a tourist destination. Southwark Cathedral is modestly-sized but gothically beautiful, squatting awkwardly in a triangle formed by the Thames, the mainline train tracks, and London Bridge itself, and sits alongside the famous and bustling Borough Market, where you can purchase the finest and most overpriced produce in the city under girders daubed liberally with pigeon droppings – but it’s all part of the charm.

Evidence of the area’s industrial past can be seen on the wharfhouses of Shad Thames, which display bold (and in some cases, seriously weather-worn) hand-painted signs and type – sometimes called Ghost Signs. Though the buildings now have a variety of new functions, from residential to restaurant, this typographic look through time is fascinating.

With that in mind I took a walk one lunchtime and began to document the variety of this signage in the area – old and new – and what follows is a photographic paean to our new home.

Wheat Wharf signage

Design Museum signage

Shad Thames street sign

Ginger Wall building signage

1886 sign

Tanner & Co signage

Thomson Bros signage