Documenting London’s street signs through the ages

A new book by Alistair Hall offers a visual history of London’s street nameplates, while giving a glimpse into the city’s own history

London Street Signs offers a look at the various nameplates attached to buildings around the city, ranging from robust, cast-iron plates to ornate signage.

The book gathers photographs taken by Alistair Hall, art director, UAL lecturer and founder of Ministry of Stories, a charity based in east London that helps children to learn the art of creative writing.

Hall began taking photographs of nameplates in 2016, taking over 4,000 images in that time. As with most books that document a collection of any given object or material through the ages, London Street Signs is as much about tracing history as it is about the signage itself.

The street signs serve as “temporal anchors”, giving both a visual and written overview of typographic developments, changes in design, the availability of new materials and even the history of the area itself. Included in the book are signs featuring the now defunct London postcode area N.E., which stopped being used in London over 150 years ago and now represents the Newcastle region in the UK.

London Street Signs by Alistair Hall London Street Signs by Alistair Hall London Street Signs cover by Alistair Hall

London Street Signs by Alistair Hall is published by Batsford on September 3;