Checking in with Gods Own Junkyard
What’s the history of Gods Own Junkyard?
It all started with my grandfather, Dick Bracey – he started Electro Signs Limited in the 1950s after moving to Walthamstow from Wales, where he was a coal miner. He decided to come up from the mines and move to the big city lights of London, quite literally. He started as an electrical engineer and then moved into the neon lighting game, designing, and installing lights for circuses, seafronts, funfairs, all over the country. My dad, Chris Bracey, also known as the ‘godfather of neon’ followed in my grandad’s creative footsteps and became a graphic designer working in lighting. He set Soho on fire with his lighting design working with world-famous creatives and producing signs for the ‘King of Soho’, Paul Raymond.As a kid, I was fascinated by what my dad and grandad did, so on the weekends I would help them out and, here I am now, creative director of Gods Own Junkyard.
What was the inspiration behind Gods Own Junkyard?
Over seven decades, my dad and grandad have collected thousands of neon signs from circuses, seafronts, amusement parks and films they’ve worked on. We’ve been hoarding so many signs we thought they should go on display. So, in 2004, we opened Gods Own Junkyard to act as an archive and display all the signs. We’ve got signs on display from films like Batman and Superman, making it a wonderland of history. We normally see around 700 people a weekend come through the door and enjoy an afternoon of wandering around the space, enjoying a drink in our Rolling Scones Café whilst listening to 80s music.
Gods Own Junkyard is located in Ravenswood Industrial Estate, which on paper, doesn’t sound like much, but, trust me, when you arrive at the estate you're struck by a creative hub, home to us and places like Wildcard, Trap Taproom, Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace, Pillars Brewery and The Blitz Factory, which is another neon heaven full of props and lighting.
We’ve been based in Walthamstow ever since my Grandad moved here from Wales - he’s a proud Walthamstow geezer and so am I. We’ve created our family business here and I’m not surprised if we’ll be based here for another 100 years after my daughters take over the family business.
Walthamstow has developed into a hub for hardworking creatives over the years, I think we boast the most amount of creatives living in one borough. It has been amazing to watch the area develop and transform into this creative and inspirational haven, whilst being steeped with our local history. We’ve seen so many young families move here and raise their families here, just like mine did. Walthamstow is out of the hustle and bustle of inner London, so you get a real sense of community whilst also being at the end of the Victoria line, so you can be anywhere in 20-minutes.
Where can people see your work in Walthamstow?
Our work is all over Walthamstow; its located on historic places and buildings in the area, meaning we’re able to regenerate and celebrate what was once there. We worked on the restoration of the Walthamstow Dog track neon lights which can now be seen for miles. The dog track is an iconic part of Walthamstow and was regarded as the UK’s leading greyhound racing stadium. You can also see one of our signs on Blackhorse road, again, an iconic location and the sign speaks the truth of Walthamstow, saying: ‘Welcome to the home of people who make and create’.
Gods Own Junkyard is located on Unit 2, Ravenswood Estate, Shernall Street, E17 9HQ.
This world-famous neon palace is just under a ten-minute walk from Feature17. For more information on the development or to book a virtual or on-site tour, visit www.countrysideproperties.com, call 020 3504 8800 or email [email protected].