Barbon Close, a narrow alley off Great Ormond Street, shelters a rather nice old sign. A notice in the London Gazette shows that G Bailey & Sons were wound up in 1951, so the painted wooden board has been around for a while.
The description of the company as "horse and motor contractors" reminds us of the period when horses were still in regular work even as motor vehicles made their presence increasingly felt.In fact, that period was more extended than we might at first think. Although most of London's buses were motor vehicles by the time of the First World War, many other businesses continued to use horses beyond the end of the Second World War. In fact, there was still a rag-and-bone man on the streets of Holloway when I first moved to London in the 1990s.
G Bailey seem to have navigated this mixed market well: in 1929, for example, their tender for the hire of five large petrol lorries was accepted by the London County Council. If their sign is any indication, the company was not run extravagantly: hints of an earlier sign are now showing through with a large letter M at the start of the top row and what looks like the start of 'depository' beneath. Indeed, the premises were used as a depository in the first part of the century, so it seems an old sign has been frugally reused.