Two new ‘ghost signs’ unveiled in Bedford town centre

Sarah Hodgkins with her 'ghost sign' of Joseph (Joe) Clough (image: Bedford Creative Arts)

Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) has begun an inspiring new public art project to celebrate key events in Bedford’s history including its airship heritage and the 75th anniversary of Windrush.

Based on ghost signs – old, hand-painted advertising signs that were painted onto a building and were commonplace in the late 1800s until the 1960s – BCA’s new artwork has been inspired by this original art deco style but with a modern-day artistic twist.

Sarah Hodgkins, best known as the painter of the octopus mural on the side of Lurke Street car park, and artist Amy Wormald will be painting modern ghost signs in key locations in the town centre.

Sarah’s piece can be seen in Bedford bus station and, appropriately, celebrates the life of London’s first black bus driver Joseph (Joe) Clough who later became a bus driver and taxi driver in Bedford.

Jo drove his bus from Bedford to St Neots before becoming something of a local celebrity.

Amy begins work on her mural today (Monday) at 25 Mill Street on the side of the A1 Taxis building.

Amy’s design will honour Bedford’s airship heritage, featuring both the R100 airship and the modern Hybrid Air Vehicle, Airlander.

Elaine Midgley, Director of BCA said, “Bedford has a rich heritage that is often hidden and uncelebrated. We wanted to showcase some of Bedford’s pioneering past in ways that complement the existing architecture of Bedford town centre whilst offering a new perspective.

“On completion of these murals, we will be working with a digital technologist, students at Bedford College and Legacy of Windrush Descendants (LOWD) to create a digital element to each ghost sign – so watch this space as the project develops.”

Pastor Peter Stapleton, Chair of LOWD said, “Very excited about working with BCA to highlight the contributions that black people have made to Bedford. Joe was known to quite a few people who arrived in Bedford during the Windrush Era.

“He was often seen as an example of success. The importance of the African and Caribbean community being included in the history of Bedford will enable to inspire all who learn about them.”

For those who are interested in finding out more about Bedford’s history, there will also be walking tours of Bedford High Street where walkers can find and view the ghost signs.

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