Destinations Magazine

Ghost Signs (73): Railway Catering

By Carolineld @carolineld
Ghost signs (73): railway catering
This sign was photographed from a train leaving Waterloo Station. Looking for more information about it, I was interested to contrast the view from the rails with that obtained by Faded London at ground level on Lower Marsh. 
The sign is almost wholly visible from the train carriage, despite the intrusion of newer buildings. From the street, it is somewhat more obscured - but does have the advantage of sharper focus without motion blur! Nonetheless, I have been able to decipher most of the wording:
DOVER CASTLEProprietorsThe Pioneer Catering Co LtdLuncheons & Dinners? PricesStout
Opened in 1895, the Dover Castle was recorded by architectural photographers Bedford Lemere in 1896. Their images show rather elegant premises with a richly decorated Grill Room and panelled Billiard Room. Mirrors and lights gleam against dark walls throughout. 
Our ghost sign dates from at least several decades later. The mention of a catering company might suggest that this pub also offered outside catering, but in fact Pioneer were a pub-owning company who purchased the late-Victorian premises and modernised them in the 1920s. They still owned the Dover Castle in the 1940s, but some time after the 1950s it closed, and the building has fallen on rather hard times since then, after a spell as a language school. As for the company, they were wound up in 1968; there is surprisingly little information about them online, given that in the 1940s they owned many London pubs including the Half Moon in Holloway Road, the Britannia in Cable Street, the Bunch of Grapes on the Strand, the Duke of Gloucester on Oxford Street, and the nearby Anchor & Hope in The Cut. 

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