20170503 113654 - A Wonderful Sign!

A Wonderful Sign!

There’s a wonderful sign just off Great Ormond Street referring to ‘G. Bailey & Sons, Horse & Motor Contractors.’ The firm specialised in road haulage and warehousing and the sign is from the 1920’s when horses were still a popular form of traction.

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According to Caroline’s Miscellany, the company closed in 1951.

The area is now part of the Tybalds Estate which was begun in 1949. The area had been heavily bombed in both 1940 and 1941. Bailey’s wasnt affected by the Luftwaffe but instead became a victim of the council who requisitioned the property for their new estate.

Bailey’s spent considerable expenditure building a new premises then barely more than twenty years old. I imagine their finances at the time (eg 1949-51) were parlous and did not allow them the luxury of finding a new place, since they had invested so much on a building featured the latest designs and technology.

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Taken on a very wet day! The sign’s location affords it protection from all kinds of weather.No wonder its lasted so long!

George Bailey & Sons, horse & motor contractors, (previously of 43 Ormond Yard) WC1, specialised in horses and steam wagons before moving on to motorcars and road haulage. Baileys had a fleet of lorries used for warehouse and furniture removals. In 1929 Bailey’s hired five of their 2 and half ton lorries to the old London County Council.

Bailey’s huge warehouse and offices was built in the 1920s on the site of the Crown PH, 43 Ormond Yard. I have seen pictures of their splendid modernist building though I dont think there are any photographs available in the public domain. It seems the company’s smaller premises had been in one of the adjacent mews properties, possibly 41, or 32, Ormond Yard, and the company bought the Crown pub in order to facilitate expansion.

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Bailey’s premises would have been in the middle of this view. Barbon Close & the old Methodist Hall are just right of centre.

As for the advert in Barbon Place, there’s evidence of an earlier advert underneath the present. It may have been an earlier one linked to the period Bailey’s were based at their old mews premises. The newer lettering that can be seen today is without a doubt from the company’s expansion during the 1920s. It may come as a surprise to many to learn the sign itself is now in its third century of existence.

The only building left today from the former mews is the Mission Hall of 1876, numbered 56-7 Ormond Close.

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The entrance to the former Mission Hall. Was formerly number 56-7.

Barbon Close itself is a recent name, the close is actually a stump left from the old mews. The name refers to Dr Nicholas Barbon, a ‘brash empire-builder’ of the 17th Century (a greedy land grabbing property magnate if you prefer!) He was a sleazy Member of Parliament – an advantage he used to avoid prosecution of his numerous shady dealings. Barbon built many dwellings across London including in Great Ormond Street, and quite a number of his houses still exist around Central London.

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4 Comments

  1. By luck, I have come across this article A Wonderful Sign. G. Bailey and Sons. George Bailey senior and George Bailey junior, are my grandfather and father. My brother, 2 sisters and myself over the last 40 years have all travelled to London and taken a stroll down through the area and had a photo taken under the sign. My brother had enquired as to whether he could bring it back to Australia. Unfortunately was too big for luggage.
    I was wondering whether it was possible to obtain a copy of the article as I am trying to put our family history together. This is the first bit written family history I have been able to find.
    You have down a wonderful job. Thank you.
    I look forward to hearing from you. Cheers

    1. Author

      Hi thanks for your comments. There wasnt an article of any sort that I had used. I used various bits of sources and would have liked to have done more on this however there were copyrights and restrictions, and the information I put on the post is some very rare bits already in the public domain.

      1. Thank you anyway understand. Most importantly your posts have interesting reading. Keep up the good work. Cheers. An appreciative reader.

  2. Thank you anyway understand. Most importantly your posts have interesting reading. Keep up the good work. Cheers. An appreciative reader.

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