South Londoners have thrown their support behind a mum-of-one fighting to save an iconic neon sign in Balham that welcomed locals home.

Alison Sinclair wants to restore the much-loved “Roberts for Ekcovision” sign put across her grandparents’ shops in the 1960s, which can be seen from Balham station, as it has remained unlit and deteriorated after the shops shut down in 1989.

The 67-year-old, who now lives in Surrey, said she was “devastated” to see the condition the sign had fallen into when visiting Balham.

Her family was approached by TV manufacturer Ekco in the 1960s to install the sign across their electrical shop, Roberts, and neighbouring showroom.

Her granddad John William Lightfoot started the business in the 1920s and moved it to the sign’s current location, on Bedford Hill, around 1928.

This Is Local London: Alison Sinclair's grandparents and their children, including her mumAlison Sinclair's grandparents and their children, including her mum

After he passed away around 1956, Ms Sinclair’s grandma Georgina, mum Eileen and uncles Ronald and Douglas ran the shop and bought the building next door to use as a showroom.

Ms Sinclair now needs to raise around £21,000 to restore the sign, which would be rebuilt with LED lights.

This Is Local London: Roberts for Ekcovision sign when it was lit up. Credit: Alison SinclairRoberts for Ekcovision sign when it was lit up. Credit: Alison Sinclair

After working on the plans since 2011, she won a £15,000 grant from the Heritage of London Trust this year and is hoping to raise the remaining £6,000 through a crowdfunder, which has already received more than £2,500 in donations.

She’s asked Wandsworth Council to fund the extra cost, around £400 a year, for the sign to be lit up all year round. 

This Is Local London: Roberts for Ekcovision sign now. Credit: Alison SinclairRoberts for Ekcovision sign now. Credit: Alison Sinclair

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service her family would be “so proud” of her bid to save the sign.

She said: “Because it’s so high, and my grandparents and my mum have died, I just think it would be fantastic if they could see it. They’d be so proud, really, if they could see it.”

She added: “I travel through Balham on the train into London and always sit on the correct side of the train to view the sign. 

"Sometimes I change at Balham and get on the northern line instead of going into Victoria so that I can spend a few moments on platform one to see it.” 

She described local support for her campaign as “amazing”. 

She said: “Balham’s a bit mixed with people that lived there for years and years and years plus some new people and even the newer residents love it, they think it’s iconic.

"So the older people that have been there years and the people that have left Balham and the new residents, everybody’s supportive of it.” 

She added: “Loads of people walked down opposite from Balham station to the shop to come home from work and obviously they all could see it, it was sort of them thinking they were nearly home – they could see the sign and it was like the welcome sign.”

Commenting on the fundraiser, one ex-Balham resident wrote: “Remember this sign so well as a little girl in the 50s.

"My dad (Ashley Purton) had his shoe repair shop around the corner on Rossiter. His backyard and Roberts backed on to each other.

"I remember Allison as a little girl too!

"So glad this sign is being saved.

"I live in the USA now but will look out for it next time I’m ‘home’. In memory of my Dad and cousin Derek Purton.

"Both would have been pleased about this outcome.”

Another commented: “I left Balham around 50 years ago but pass that sign on my way to Ravenstone School and to the swimming baths almost daily.

"It truly is iconic to those brought up in Balham.”

Ms Sinclair said her uncle surprised her with the sign when it was first installed.

She said: “I think I was about five or six and he took me across the road and said ‘look up there’ and you could see the sign up there all lit up. I didn’t know it was coming that day, I didn’t know anything about it, so that was a nice surprise.”

Dr Nicola Stacey, director of the Heritage of London Trust, said: “It’s fantastic for us to be supporting this valuable part of Balham’s more recent history.

"The sign has definitely surpassed its original purpose and become a public art piece for South London, seeing its nostalgic glow once more will have such a positive impact on the surrounding community.”

Ms Sinclair said she has permission from the current owners of the building and is hoping to raise the remaining cash in the coming weeks as she sorts the plans and waits for a decision from the council on funding the yearly cost to light up the sign.

The fundraiser can be found here.