Bland’s Buildings, Lancaster


This large but seldom noticed example of lettering in relief is found on the Dutch gable of a section of commercial buildings at Penny Street, Lancaster. The lettering is cut with slur (rounded) serifs within a large moulded plaque that includes strapwork that resembles oversized brackets that might be used to fix a picture frame to a wall.

Blands refers to William Bland, a prominent butcher and provisions merchant who had the buildings constructed in 1894. Planning notes from the period suggest that the building was designed by the renowned local architects Paley and Austin

Location: Penny Street, Lancaster UK.

Laurence Binyon Memorial, Lancaster

binyonThis modest memorial plaque is found on the wall of a Georgian townhouse located at No.1 High Street, Lancaster. It commemorates the poet, dramatist and academic Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) who was born here. Binyon is most often known for his poem For the Fallen, which includes the lines:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

After leaving Lancaster to attend school in London, Binyon later worked at the British Museum and embarked on a career that encompassed academic writing and then poetry  and plays. Affected by the carnage of the Great War, he wrote For the Fallen in 1914, a work often recited at Remembrance services.

In an interesting link to the world of architectural lettering and typography, Binyon’s daughter Nicolette (Gray) (1911-1997) was one of the foremost academics and researchers on the subject, publishing several prominent books about the importance and development of lettering.

The plaque appears to have been installed sometime after 1979. If anyone knows the exact date of this I’d be very grateful for the details.

Lancaster Gas Works (former)


This photograph was taken around 2010 and shows the crumbling facade of the former Lancaster Gas Works. The facade has sans serif lettering and numerals that detail the date of both the establishment of the works and its redevelopment.These elements sit below the coat of arms of Lancaster, which is itself set between ornate scrolls with inset floral motifs.

The works were constructed by the Lancaster Gaslight Company in 1826; later incorporated in 1856 as the Lancaster Gas Company. Located on the Quay, coal, from which the gas was extracted, could be delivered from the river to the works. The company had other buildings and a gas holder on Moor Lane, and a showroom in Market Square (currently occupied by a bakery). The ‘re-erected 1859’ details on the facade presumably refer to this later period of redevelopment. In 1880, the company was bought by the Lancaster Corporation and the works expanded. Later the holdings were nationalised and  became part of the Lancaster and Morecambe Group of the Northwest Gas Board.

Sadly, the remains of the works were recently demolished, and another piece of Lancaster’s history along the Quay is turned to rubble. The stonework containing the lettering and numerals has been retained and is currently sitting close to the site  (thanks to Graham Hibbert – @Kisa – for this bit of information).

I took a walk down the Quay today (24th March 2014) and took a photo of the remains. I’ve sent an enquiry to the Museum to ask if they are aware of what is to happen to them and it seems enquiries are now being made. Hopefully, we won’t seen these sold to a salvage yard.

gasworks 2014

gasworks 2014

Location: St George’s Quay, Lancaster, UK.

Children’s Home, Lancaster


These numerals set in relief commemorate the date of redevelopment of this former children’s home in Lancaster. The original site, now part of Lancaster Boys Grammar School, appears to have been part of the Lancaster Poor Law Union around 1889. The building, now used by the School used for boarders, is now known collectively as Ashton House and Storey House.

Location: Quernmore Road, Lancaster, UK.

Edinburgh, January 2014

A short trip to Edinburgh last week revealed some wonderful examples of lettering. Expecting rain all week I foolishly left my camera at home, so had to make do with the gubbins on my phone. A return trip is due, I think, and a chance to do a more extensive survey in this extraordinarily beautiful city.

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Former Baths, Lancaster


This ‘ghost’ letter B is a remnant of the name original found above the entrance to Lancaster’s former public baths and washhouse. The building, constructed in design that featured Tudor, Elizabethan and Italian features. was completed in 1863 as a result of a donation provided by Samuel Gregson, Mayor of Lancaster. It was superceded by the building of the new Kingsways Baths in 1939 after which the Gregson Baths was used by North Western Electricity Board until 1983. The site is now occupied by a major supermarket.

Location: Cable Street, Lancaster, UK.

Former Bus Depot and Public Baths, Lancaster

busStationOLDThis large stone plaque, featuring the coat of arms of Lancaster, is found on the side of the building (completed in 1939) that formally held both the Bus Depot and Public Baths. In 2009 a large apartment complex was built on the site.

The unusual word Loyne, found in the motto, is an alternative name for the River Lune on which the city stands.

Location: Kingsway, Lancaster, UK.