Month: April 2013 (page 1 of 2)

NGS case: Barbour new store Leadenhall Market – gilding in the absolute centre of London

This Post is all about Leadenhall Market’s new Barbour store sign gild by Nick Garrett Signwriting – London’s NGS.

NGS case: Barbour new store Leadenhall Market 

gilding in the absolute centre of London… local blokes with brushes..

History: The Traditional London Market

The market dates back to the 14th century. Originally a meat, game and poultry market, it stands on what was the centre of Roman London.  A number of commercial retailers are also located in the market, including clothes shops and a pen shop , the newest being the Barbour shop, the subject of this article.


The ornate roof structure, painted green, maroon and cream, and cobbled floors of the current structure, designed in 1881 by Sir Horace Jones.

An early 20th century view of the market and actual site of our recent project beneath the colonnade, to right hand side

From 1990 to 1991 the market received a dramatic redecoration, enhancing its architectural character and detail. The redecoration scheme received a special mention in the Civic Trust Awards 1994. The market is a Grade II* Listed Building, being listed in 1972.


Leadenhall Market formed part of the marathon course of the 2012 Olympic Games.

NGS and the Barbour project – Unit 31 L Mkt – Pieces out of the Jigsaw

Jigsaw is about to be painted out forever…

David Wong the director of the market was responsible for putting Andrew Gill of Active Interiors in touch with me regarding the re-paint and new gild of the 6 main fascia panels in this wonderful heritage landmark.

It’s one thing climbing up a ladder in Notting Hill but another planet working on the very architecture that depicts so much in the eyes of the world and her visitors, the essence of traditional London. This project started and continued in a delightfully fun and meaningful way for me as it brought together the very best of what it means to be a truly professional artist… and passing that tradition on. A London signwriter is a London signwriter.

The deadline was fairly tight and after identifying the font style and forming up the layout in perfect space we,the veritable Jack Hollands and myself, arrived on site to commence work brushes in hand.

First task was to clean the fascia and find a good tea maker. That done as we were surrounded but such establishments we started the rub down with wet dry, taking off the existing gilded lettering which read JIGSAW and painting out with grey.


My wife will be heartbroken…

We were hoping the repaint could have been localised  but the fascia was too faded.

The first thing we argued about however was how the existing lettering was made in the first place… after a couple of minutes I knew previous lettering had been vinyl stencilled and gilded and so we had no remorse in taking down this, as we saw it, the vinyl gilding was a complete waste of opportunity to beautify this Grade II buildings.

How sad that the stencil had invaded such an opportunity at brilliance and craft… we sanded with impunity!

My intention was to make a series of stunning hand gilded sign panels for the client and work had begun.

  • Erect tower
  • Undercoat existing lettering.
  • First coat and cut in to gilded numerals and coach-lining.
  • Second coat same
  • Gold Leaf Lettering
  • Shade

Hard work and the perfect distraction… Brogue hunting

It had been a while as they say and getting it up was hilarious… the tower that is!  HSS kept us waiting until 2pm on day 1 but once on site we didn’t waste any time in making complete fools of ourselves with lots of tower sections and poles whirling about and not the faintest what with them to do.

There was a lot going on around the place and Jack was seriously on form finding a local Brogue shoe maker which had us gawking through the window at first tea break.

Local inspiration – Pictures tell a truly glorious local story

Working in this harvest of design was the perfect setting to take young Jack’s developing skills quite a way forward and on day 2 I had him start up his own fascia – 

It is amazing what passion for the art can do for a trainee.  His work came on tremendously!!

Standby for Jack’s stunning designing of the new NGS logo and final Degree show work – invitations included.


The Lettering

The font we grabbed from a previous photoshoot and formed the title firstly in Photoshop.  The typeface was redrawn to create certain anomalies and poetics such as slightly irregular serifs, shading spans and refinements to the ‘R’ character form.


I montaged the word Barbour from the letters gathered by Jack’s iPhone and overlaid with Clarendon Bold. This was tweaked to fit the existing letter span.

Finally the characters wer redrawn in PS3 aligning the serifs nad characteristics to the original Leadenhall typeface.


The gold to be used was Handover’s, specifically pressed to the requirements of the day.

On start-up the very low working temperature made the 3 Hour Lefranc gold size slow going and difficult to get to open up and flow.

The first batch of gold leaf was rejected and returned for a freshly pressed batch of 23ct 6.75 ton pressure.

Once this problem was corrected with the aid of chocolate and course humour, the gilding went smoothly.

Shading;  The black Oneshot enamel shade was zipped on with a shorter haired writer size 5.

Photo: Sam and Jack

Deserving of only the real thing – Gold Leaf

I was amazed at how many overseas visitors flowed through the market every day and it certainly brought home to me the importance of the City Corporation realising that hand painted lettering is really the only way to go for such a special icon:

The amount of tour groups visiting Leadenhall deserve the real thing. Not the vinyl masking that was used before.  Jack Hollands


TM and facts

Work duration for 6 fascias 5.5 days – 3 artists.

Access double staged tower.

Tapes: Frog low tac and Leylands yellow sharp cut.

Enamels: Oneshot.

Orange Gold size: Lefranc from Cornellisons’s

Tea: English Breakfast

Lunch: POD

Beer:  Young’s Bitter

Leaving site finished up left us both feeling hollow and sad… fulfilled, yet yearning for the next big project challenge.

A wonderful week in a wonderful setting – Old London town.

A trip down memo lane/s – NGSigns

OCTOBER 14, 2011

A visual overview of some work I’ve completed over the years, some stories and unsolved mysteries.

My first ever sign was for a tiny antique shop in Herne Hill, London and when my grandfather saw it, (he was a master stone mason and letter cutter) he was quite happy with my quasi home-brew Roman lettering pointing out a couple of errors that I put right – that was in 1975.  

I promptly bought my first fabled Letraset book… wow! I had entered another world.


with jam and bread sign - Lee high rd London Nick Garrett Traditional Signs

Above: November 2011, with Jam and Bread, Lee High Rd., London.

FINE ART Graduation – First major Brewery client: Watney‘s, London

After leaving art college in early 80s I immediately set up a sign-writing studio, first in Streatham then Battersea.

I was very lucky meeting my main career mentor, Ron Bennett .  Ron took me under his wing, was head architect at Watney’s who tasked me with my first gilding job – The Windsor Arms.  The font Cooper Black a really tacky type of 70?s font which I had gilded in my bedroom the next morning and back to him in the afternoon. We worked together for 4 years until his retirement.


Above:  Sir Alexander Flemming – my second major sign commission to Watney’s in 1981

Taylor Walker Brewery, Benskins and Ind Coop

From there I went on to work with Will Allbrook at Oldham signs and by 1986 had wandered into the world of interiors mastering faux finishes on the way.  I worked on hundreds of pubs though few photos remain.  Mostly fascias and pictorial signs in the gold leaf red shadow hallmark of the group.

Below are a few of the sites I remember working on over those and intervening years.

De Hems

Worked on the De Hems amenity boards and gilded letters, during the 80s for Mike at Taylor Walker who then introduced me to my long standing friend Will Allbrook at Oldham Signs.

The Finsbury Park Tavern mystery 

Where art thou now my fair sign???

Twelve Pins, Finsbury Park, N4 
Made by Ewan-M
The empty sign outside this pub on a busy junction by Finsbury Park station. The cannon suggests it was a former Taylor Walker pub, if I’m not mistaken. ()

Ha!! An empty space because it was one of my first great pictorial signs I made for Mike Jacks, the chief designer at Taylor Walker HO Muswell Hill in 1981. It won Best Pub Sign of the year at the Design Centre, Haymarket London, and I guess the panels are now adorning Mikes dining room!!

It was an image of a park keeper sweeping leaves in Autumn, at the park gates on one side and similar elbow on broom pose in Spring on the other.

Mike recruited me to inject fresh ideas and concept across a host of projects sharing his studio in HO.  What a great experience.

Chalk boarding is a lot of fun… below new poster concept for Ted Baker.

Linkedin  Sign Designer and Maker Recommendation

Oldham signs review  William Allbrook

“It was great to bump into Nick again recently on Linked In. In the early eighties I was running the Pub re-signing programme for Oldham Signs in the South East. Nick was a very talented pictorial artist and had his own workshops to build fascias etc. Nick could always be relied upon to come up with original and often stunning designs for pictorials and had a real feel for the genre. He worked hard and did a lot of work for myself and my colleagues dealing with Allied Breweries regional re-branding. His work was always outstanding. Happy memories!” October 17, 2010

Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Creative

Salutation in London

The Salutation, Kings Street Hammersmith, London

The Salutation was a gild and fix contract which was one of the most challenging as I was given 3 days to complete prep and gild and had to use a 12 kilo Kango hammer drill to get through this wonderful but rock hard antique ceramic fascia…  turned out really well but had me biting my nails to the very last!  It’s what is meant by going the extra mile!


Firkin Brewery, London

The Pheonix and Firkin – the original sign we made in 1983 was up for restoration by 2001, but it was just too gone around the edges and this one was intended only as temporary but it looked kinda cool and we all agreed it should stay.

The only time I fell off a ladder at the Pheonix… courtesy of a large plumber rather over sampling the fresh Dog Bolter at 10 in the morning!

Nina Campbell

Nina wanted a nice Roman so she got it with my selection of  Berling… still looking good.  Walked into the upper studio where Nina was having her photo taken by Lord Snowdon who abruptly turned around to me and said in his wonderful voice… “Haven’t we met before somewhere dear chap?”

Standing atop my ladder rolling up and woodbine and Ringo Star sauntered past… “You tayke it eaoisy up therr yer hear me!”

Just down the street from Nina is Dragons of Walton Street the esteemed nursery painted furniture shop and the title line choice here was Windsor bold.


Chelsea Green and the Pie Man … fascia and glass writing.

Stacks of pictorial signs for Benskins, Watneys and Taylor walker breweries.


The Arterie E. Dulwich and Sign of the Times, Chelsea.

Ted Baker 2011

Ted Baker Bluewater shop Nov 2011

November 2011, the new flagship store about to open 11 11 11 – Bluewater Kent.

Lots of wonderful signs here in this extraordinary retail design project.

Nick Garrett Fine Signwriter

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