GHOST signs are old advertising signs that have been preserved long after the original business ceased to exist. There are many ghost signs around Winchester which offer insights into the history of the city.

At the end of the High Street is a replica of the sign for the historic Black Swan Hotel, which stood from at least 1828 until 1935.

Hampshire Chronicle: The Black Swan

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson visit this hotel in Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Copper Beeches, and it is described as being ‘an inn of repute in the High Street, at no distance from the station”.

The original wooden swan started falling apart in recent years. By 2012 the black swan’s head and neck were in disrepair, and a local craftsman carved a new swan to replace it.

In 1944, emergency water supplies were commissioned in towns all over the country in case the main water supply was damaged in a bombing raid, and water was needed to put out fires.

One such sign is still visible on Cranworth Road, Fulflood. The letters SWS stand for Static Water Supply, and an arrow points to where the water tank once was.

Hampshire Chronicle: SWS sign on Cranworth Road, Fulflood

The building on the corner of Upper Brook Street and North Walls used to be a corner shop, and painted adverts for Nestlé milk are preserved on the walls. The current owner has renamed the building ‘Nestle House’ and opened it as an Air B and B this year.

Hampshire Chronicle: Nestle House on North Walls

In the early 1900s, a coach and car building company called Gandy and Son operated from Parchment Street. As the sign has faded over time, earlier writing has become visible through the paint, which indicated that the advert was redone several times.

Hampshire Chronicle: Motor Works in Parchment Street

The Chimneys pub in Weeke closed in 2004 after serving as a community hub for decades. It was first built as a hotel in the 1950s, then converted into a 1940s-inspired pub called Blighty’s, before being renamed Chimneys. It was demolished in 2005 to make way for the Aldi store. Today, all that remains of it is this sign by the side of the road.

Hampshire Chronicle: The Chimneys in Weeke

Just outside of Winchester in Sutton Scotney, a faded ‘Taylors Garage’ sign can be seen on the side of a house on Oxford Road. Taylors Coaches was a family-run business from 1916 until it closed in 2004, with a repairs garage, taxi service and coaches to hire.

Hampshire Chronicle: Taylors Coaches in Sutton Scotney

By Claudia Cox


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