Ghost’ signs of Eldon Street reveal hidden history

Conservation works on historic shopfronts have uncovered hidden traces of past businesses…


As part of the Eldon Street High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), major conservation works have been taking place at 32-38 Eldon Street, a historic street in Barnsley town centre with a fascinating past. 


The project is in its final stages and work has begun to restore the historic shopfronts. As part of that work, the modern signs have been removed, revealing a series of scarily good 'ghost' signs underneath. 


Signs from the Tetley tobacconist (36 Eldon Street) and Cable Shoes (38 Eldon Street) have revealed some previously unknown history about the building, including previous businesses and changing trends and tastes over the decades.


Ghost signs are often faded or painted signs that were used to advertise businesses, products or services on the walls or facades of buildings. They are often hidden by later additions or alterations and can only be seen when they are removed. They provide interesting clues about the history of a place as well as adding character and interest to the streets.


It is hoped that the ghost signs on Eldon Street can remain on view when the conservation works are finished, but this will require further investigation. The original signs no longer exist – what can be seen now is just the marks that they left on the tiles behind, so they are very fragile.  


The signs are an exciting, rare, and valuable example of Barnsley's heritage and quite a spectacle to behold. People are invited to stop and take a look while they are visiting the town centre. Please be mindful that work is continuing to the buildings, although His and Hairs and Gee Vee travel remain open for business.


Cllr Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “The history of Eldon Steet is fascinating and the HAZ project continues to uncover more untold stories about the businesses, people, and buildings. 

The restoration work will offer huge improvements to the area connecting the transformed Glass Works square to the historical parts of the town centre.”


Nicky Brown from Historic England said: “These ghost signs are a wonderful discovery. The faded relics of advertising from a bygone era give us a tantalising peak into Barnsley’s cultural and social history.”


Find out more about the ghost sign at