Fremantle Stuff > signs

{Ghost} Signs

This page aims to preserve photographs of painted signs from the past which may appear temporarily and seem likely to disappear. I am following the work of people who set up Ghost Signs websites.

All my signs will have been found in the Fremantle area. Here's my first, and best so far.


This is to be found in the alley at the back of the Kakulas Sister grocery in the Princess Theatre building, on the way to the Leake St Cafeteria, in the centre of the complex. I don't yet know anything about the billiards saloon which used to be here.

this way out

Wade Drummond, the owner of the Leake St Cafeteria, found this sign in the same alley. It would be from some time in the period during which the Princess Theatre was used as a cinema, 1912-1969. By the way, it confirms the function of the present 'alley' with its elaborate portico (my photo of which may be seen on the Leake St Cafeteria page). It was the side exit (and perhaps also an entrance?) to the Cinema.

princess sign

And here's the ghost sign of the Princess Theatre itself, now thoughtfully revealed above the Kakulas Sister sign - which used to be higher and so cover it. Update: I notice that the old sign is fading and may need to be repainted - and so made less ghostly - as there appears to be an intention to retain it.


Facade of 36 Henry, the Sadlier building, now a private residence, with re-emergent sign which only became visible again in late 2016. My photo 5 July 2017.

23 quarry

Quarry St, 23, cnr Barnett St. ALES WINES SPIRITS Retailed Here. If they take the rest of the rendering off, the sign will be gone. But it looks as tho it's intended to leave it like this for now.

37 wood 1

This was at 37 Wood St Fremantle in a photo taken 1 January 2008, and already too late, as the sign can barely be deciphered (especially as I over-reduced the size of the photo). CHALWELL WRECKERS moved to the corner of Wood and Stack, but they left there quite a while ago, and that building is also now no longer in use by them.

37 wood 2

And these are the last days of not just the sign but 37 Wood St itself: the workman is actually dismantling the facade brick by brick as we watch - whence the new (and very temporary!) sign FREE BRICKS. Date: December 2012. The site is now an open yard used for storing building material or whatever.


This is about to become a ghost sign - by disappearing. This is the next Chalwell Wreckers establishment after the one above, tho they moved from here years ago. This building and another two or three adjacent are owned by a truck driver who apparently collects wrecked machinery - like bobcats and tractors.


Here's a ghost sign in reverse: one just appearing. I wish I'd kept a photo of the completed work. It not only said PARNELL SIGNS, but also had a huge three-dimensional paintbrush with three large drops of (three-dimensional) paint falling from it. And now it's gone again, thus spuriously qualifying it as a 'ghost sign', when Parnell's took their business elsewhere.

Speaking of Parnell's (who seem now to have gone out of business ) ...

hooper sign

This image is from a Parnell Signs Facebook page (which hasn't been updated since 2013, so appears moribund). The text with it is as follows:

Signwriter John Lyons and an unknown worker signwriting a furniture shop on High Street Fremantle, circa 1925. Not long after this photo was taken, John died, and his Daughter Netta, who later married Frank Parnell, took over the business and changed the name to Parnell Signs.

Paul Barry writes that Alan Bond was apprenticed to Parnell Signs at 14, despite having failed their spelling test. Local legend used to have it that Bond painted the Dingo Flour sign, but it seems pretty certain that he did not, and that it was Les Nash who created it in 1940. It was later repainted in 1946 by Fred Parnell, of Parnell Signs.

References and links

Ghost Signs UK - the original site

Ghost Signs Australia (nothing from WA until they used two of the signs above)

Garry Gillard | New: 4 January, 2016 | Now: 15 November, 2019