I love neon lights. A simple but slightly ridiculous statement to make, but it's true. I even used to have a Pinterest board devoted to them. I love how they're tacky and they're bright and they're kitsch and they can really add something to the interior design of a place (you'll know what I mean if you've ever been to Flat Iron), but deep in my heart I know they're something I'll probably never own. I'm just not that good at styling. I can see it now, I'd invest in a neon light and before I knew it, my flat would be mistaken for something a very different kind. A red lit building. A bit like the one I used to live near when I lived in the Netherlands, you know?
It was while I was messing about on Pinterest looking at the aforementioned neon signs that I came across Gods Own Junkyard. I'd been wanting to visit forever, and finally, a few weeks ago I finally got to go. Not that there was anyone stopping me, but this place is at the end of a tube line, all the way in Walthamstow and I'm lazy. Soz.
The man behind God's Own Junkyard, Chris Bracey started his career as a graphic designer before joining his Dad's neon business in the 1970s. He spotted an opportunity in providing neon signs for Soho's growing sex industry. By the time he died in 2014, he had amassed one of the biggest collections of neon artworks and light sculptures in the world. Now his sons have taken over the "neon baton" and the collection is all housed in an industrial estate in Walthamstow.
I really don't think I've ever been anywhere as colourful as this. It can almost be a little overwhelming, in every single corner of the unit there are more and more neon signs and colourful lights hidden away. There's always something to point out. I loved the
There's also a coffee shop on the premises called The Rolling Scones (I bloody love a pun) and you can sit and eat cake in the midst of all the neon. You can also hire the space as an event place, or hire the neon signs - any avid readers of Rock My Wedding may have already seen their bits out in action.
You can find God's Own Junkyard on the Ravenswood Industrial Estate in Walthamstow. Don't let the fact that it's not in central London put you off like it did me, it really isn't that far to go - the Victoria Line really zips along. When you reach Walthamstow Central, it's a fifteen-minute walk through "The Village", a conservation area which would almost be worth a visit in its own right. God's Own Junkyard is open on Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm and on Sunday from 11 am until 6 pm. It's free to visit, but consider donating to Chris Bracey's Just Giving page instead, as just a small thanks.
After we'd finished, we headed out into the estate and grabbed some jerk chicken from the street stall outside, surrounded by people who were taking the chance to also visit the Wildcard Brewery for a pint, or Mother's Ruin for a gin. Alas, I was on Dry January. Maybe next time?
Have you ever been?