All across London you can find a remarkable archive of lettering. A unique collection of styles and forms that stretches right back to the 17th century. London’s street nameplates - the signs that tell us the name of each road. They hide in plain sight, these little labels – we use their information daily, but too often fail to really notice them. And they aren’t just visual anchors, telling us where we are, but temporal anchors too, telling us where we’ve come from.
I wanted to document the finest street nameplates that are still visible today throughout the city. So I’ve been walking and cycling around London for the past two years, photographing any that seem particularly interesting – the most significant, the most beautiful, the most curious. From the iconic nameplates of the City of Westminster to the stunning tiled signs of Hampstead, from the revival nameplates of Lambeth to the ghost signs of the no-longer existent NE postal district. From enamel plates to incised lettering, from the simplest cast iron signs to the most ornamental architectural tablets. So far I’ve photographed around two thousand nameplates.
I’ve also been digging through libraries and archives, and interviewing the people involved in the design and manufacture of nameplates, to discover the stories behind these generally unassuming treasures, revealing where they came from before being affixed to brick or stone for the decades to come.
You can follow the progress of the project over at londonstreetnameplates (currently edging towards 5,000 followers). It’s been generating a fair bit of coverage so far, including Brain Magazine in Japan, and the Guardian in the UK: