Five Things to look for in Towns

Five things to look for in towns.

When exploring somewhere new why not see how many of these items you can spot. You may want to try this in a place you know well first and may be surprised at what you find.

  • A boot scraper. In the days before tarmac roads were often wet and muddy and even in good weather the surface was simply well-compacted soil and stones. His meant anyone walking around the town ended up with mud on their footwear. Metal scrapers were often installed alongside doors to clear off the worst of the mud before entering the property. These could be free-standing items or built into the wall alongside the front door in more compact properties. If you cannot find one  near a house they are often also found outside of churches.

  • Tiled doorway. Once tiles could be mass-produced they proved ideal for doorways and entrance passages as they were durable yet easily cleaned unlike stone. Geometric designs were popular. These often appeared in shop doorways, too, although others favoured the mosaic designs, something incorporating the name of the business or a decorative design.

  • Wall painted advert. Sometimes called ghost signs for these are fading fast from our streets the gable walls and other clear areas of brickwork were used as canvases to display adverts for businesses. Some even used the gable ends at roof top level. A few were used to display adverts for products manufactured elsewhere and earned the business owner a fee.

  • A trade sign. In the past shopkeepers used large signs to advertise their business. Each shop would deal in a different commodity – baker, butcher, boot maker, barber and so on. In the days before universal education these large models helped people locate the business they required.

  • Enamel adverts. Another favoured way of advertising was a metal plate affixed to a building with the advert enamelled onto the surface. Again, shopkeepers could earn a fee for displaying adverts for manufactured goods such as tea, wool and sewing machines.
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