Watling Street has the right setup for unease – it’s very quiet, with much of one side being occupied by Guinness backlands, it’s not a popular thoroughfare, and it starts at a busy point on James’s Street before descending down to a much less pedestrian-busy but car-heavy part of the quays. Even if it was Main Street USA from Disneyland, though, it would be spooky to look up at a closed gate topped with razor wire and read ‘THE CENTRAL HIDE AND SKIN CO. LTD.’ Sure, it was a tannery and leather works, no doubt adding to the bouquet of brewery smells hanging over the area, but the name seems so visceral and authoratitive.
It looks like a cast concrete sign, slightly chipped at the edge of some letters but mostly in sharp relief. The ampersand has fallen off at some point well into the sign’s life and weathering, making it a ghost sign with a ghost ampersand. The superior letters used in the abbreviations for ‘Company’ and ‘Limited’ are elegant, and it makes me wonder why that typographic convention has mostly passed out of use in English.
It appears that the Central Hide and Skin Co. was still in action in 1984, bought by the International* Hide and Skin Co. (in Kilkenny) and experiencing some financial difficulties prior to the sale.
* If you’re enjoying the names as much as I am, the Register of Companies also offers the Western Hide and Skin Co., Celtic Hide and Skin Co, Dublin Hide and Skin Co, and the Intercontinental Hide and Skin Co.