The Tap & Die Co, 445 West Green Road, Borough of Haringey, London N15, 2014 • Yikes – don’t tap that phone! According to the firm’s intricate website, they do indeed supply taps and dies (aka nut and screw manufacturing parts), and were founded in 1976.
Euro Sandwich Bar, 20a Swallow Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2004 & 2014 (bottom) • Much lamented classic caff from the days before Swallow Street housed champagne bars. Bottom pic shows it now: Euro’s greasy grills have been replaced by the grey grilles opposite Gaucho.
Sergios, 3 Eagle Place, City of Westminster, London SW1, 2003 • Classic caff next door to yesterday’s M. Landaw, and likewise gone. Wish I’d got a better pic, they had a great sign under the awning. Sadly, I was in a hurry… and mistakenly thought it would always be there.
M. Landaw, 5 Eagle Place, City of Westminster, London SW1, 2003 & 2014 (bottom) • Stylish alleyway newsagent looking straight out of Vienna. Not only has it disappeared, the entire lively row was later stripped of commerce and rebuilt as a barren, featureless space (bottom). There’s a 2008 photo of the whole alley pre-development on the Urban75 blog here.
Kosher King, 293 Hale Lane, Edgware, Borough of Barnet, London HA8, 2004 • What a magnificent sign! Sadly it’s now minus crown and called, rather randomly, KosherNet – I guess they sell kosher stuff on the internet.
Kings Pharmacy, 104 Edgware Road, City of Westminster, London W2, 2003 • It’s nice when a regal name has a suitably noble sign. Judging by the dual crowns and lack of apostrophe, this is owned by at least two kings. The pharmacy is still there, but now with a much more modest version of the logo.
The Emperor Stores, 48a Gloucester Road, Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London SW7, 2005 • Not as regal looking as its wonderful name. It’s still there, but now with a (no more interesting) blue sign.
Empress Coaches, 3 Corbridge Crescent, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2012 • Long-lived business on the banks of the Regent Canal, complete with vintage Derv pumps and exuberant foliage. Founded 1923 and still in the same family, website here.
L&D Motorcycles, 179 Kennington Lane, Borough of Lambeth, London SE11, 2005 • A forest of for sale signs on this old-time motorbike store. Fitting therefore that it became an estate agent, of which there were already far too many on this once-quaint Kennington corner.
J.R. Hobson & Co The Drinking Glass Centre, Nursery Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, 2010 • Founded 1870 initially as a brass foundry, Hobsons used to supply the pub trade with glasses and materials, but closed in 2009 due to floods and recession.There’s a history thread here to which the owner’s son contributes. The building was still there in 2012.
Mercury Discount, Cambridge Heath Appliances, 274-278 Cambridge Heath Road, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2002 (top two) & 2006 • Beautiful signwiting, caught on its way out. Now a block of (doubtless expensive) flats.
Dolly’s Diner, 177 London Road North, Lowestoft, Suffolk, 2007 • The sign looks newer than the net – I bet the previous one was nicer. Still much the same by 2012; Lowestoft is pretty static.
Margot Gowns, 4 William Street, Herne Bay, Kent, 2004 • Essence of seaside town, a symphony in pink. Google street view shows it looking just the same in 2009, except with a car-blocking giant plant pot outside (parked cars stopped me getting a straight-on shot at the time). It’s even still got pink outfits in the window. I don’t know if it’s still there now, though.
J & M Smith, 64 North Street, Emsworth, Hampshire, 2003 • A very sad shop which suggested to me that its owner had died. Although I didn’t know it when I photographed this, I’ve since discovered that I may have been conceived in Emsworth (possibly in and named after nearby Victoria Road), when my father was stationed at Thorney Island. Maybe this shop was a going concern then. It’s now been turned into a plain brick house, and you’d never know the shop had been there. Where does time go?
J & Sons Unisex Hair Salon, 501 Cambridge Heath Road, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2006 • Ambitious hand-painted lettering depicting a mysterious pater/materfamilias (it’s hard to tell which from the silhouette) known only as “J”. Now replaced with smart blue and silver plastic as Troy’s Barbers.
Pleasant Sandwich Bar, 7 Mount Pleasant Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 2014 • Seems like an underwhelming taste offer, but it’s actually the name of the road.
Porky’s Pantry, 49 Chandos Place, City of Westminster, London WC2, 2003 • Nice lettering, shame about the scary pig paintings. Later on they changed the sign, but kept the horrible pigs.
Thomas Brothers, 798-804 Holloway Road, Archway, Borough of Islington, London N19, 2003 and 2014 (bottom image) • Enormous and long-standing corner builders’ merchant with great 3D plastic lettering that just closed down (mid 2014).
De Marco, 37 Junction Road, Archway, Borough of Islington, London N19, 2003 • More superannuated Italy, in the eternally down-at-heel backwaters of Archway. It’s now estate agent Barstow Eves, so perhaps gentrification beckons.
New Piccadilly, 8 Denman Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2003 • This Italian institution was so famous I thought plenty of other people would record it (and I was right – there’s a Flickr group here), so never got a decent shot of the outside, or even attempted the inside, which was an overwhelmingly retro yellow formica time capsule. Here it is in its latter days; it closed for redevelopment in 2007 and is unrecognisable now. According to the excellent article here, Lorenzo Marioni, the proprietor for 50 years, took away or destroyed all traces before retiring to Italy. I have to say, the few times I ate there, the food and coffee were terrible, they couldn’t even make a decent omelette. You can get the idea from the scrawled sign in the window offering “try our signature dish of jungli hot chicken curry & eggs with rice £6″.