SHOPFRONT ELEGY: SAMPLER A themed compendium of vintage UK shop facades By Vici MacDonald / Foreword by Alan Dein • £14.95 from Amazon UK • $19.95 from Amazon USA • 96pp / Full colour […]
Welcome to Shopfront Elegy, which has a new image added every other day. Menus are at the bottom; click on a tag – net curtains, arches or whatever – and you’ll get a grid of images on that topic. To see all places and years covered, use the drop-down category menu. Click any image for the full post plus comments etc.
Barclays (Loughborough), 3 Market Place, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • Stern Stalinist-style neoclassical eagle plaque for proud local financial hub. I just love bespoke old bank buildings.
Beacon Bingo, The Old Cinema, Baxter Gate, 37-40 Churchgate, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • Thank goodness for bingo halls keeping all these old art deco cinemas alive. This one has a carefully […]
Platform Cafe, Leicester North Station, The Sidings, Leicester LE4, 2016 • Cute cafe signs in heritage station that sends steam engines along the main line to Loughborough’s defunct Central Station. […]
RPG, 93 Constance Road, Leicester LE5, 2016 • If you want your name to last, write it in stone. Can’t find any history on this deco small business centre, yet […]
Wildt Mellor Bromley (Roti House), c.431 St. Saviours Road, Leicester LE5, 2016 • Imposing deco edifice that was once home to one of the world’s largest knitting machine manufacturers, which hit […]
Corona Machine Tool Works, 300 St. Saviours Road, Leicester LE5, 2016 • There’s no one left to raise the flags at this ornate works, sadly. Built in 1911 to a design by […]
Fashion House Ltd, Wakerley Centre, Margaret Road (off Gwendolen Road), Leicester LE5, 2016 • Bonkers mini-castle in a fascinating and unusual suburb developed by Leicester philanthropist/architect Arthur Wakerley, who pioneered council […]
H.C. Pretty, 101 Gwendolen Road, Leicester LE5, 2016 • What a great name, though the premises don’t exactly live up to it. It’s actually an engineering firm.
Mama’s Discount Wholesalers, 305 St. Saviours Road. Leicester LE5, 2016 • Astonishing Aladdin’s cave of a shop which was even more packed inside than out. I’m wondering if the wall-mounted […]
Masjid-Noor-Ul-Islam (Linden Street Education Centre), Linden House, Linden Street, Leicester LE5, 2016 • Streamlined art deco mini-liner that only became a mosque after 2014. I can’t find out what it originally was, but […]
Hamidiye Camii, 16 Great Central Street, Leicester LE1 , 2016 • Attractive Victorian commercial building with later top floor, now housing a Turkish mosque. It’s near to grand ex-Central Street […]
Afro Supermarket, 87 Gravel Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Multicultural modernist tiling in the brutalist quarter of this fascinating city.
Suit Yourself, 24 Belvoir Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Family firm in operation for around 40 years. Their modern website has a completely different logo, so maybe this old-school 3D plastic extravaganza is […]
Philip J. Hammond & Sons, 47 Friar Lane, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Grimly stylish marbled throwback, rocking the Barcelona Pavilion look.
Odeon Arcade, Market Place, Leicester LE1, 2016 • As the name suggests, a former fleapit. First opened in 1924 as the City Cinema, by 1964 it was an Odeon, and – […]
The Clothing Alterations Company, 5 St Martins Walk, Leicester LE1 • Ridiculously grand dry cleaner featuring Bacchus, Roman god of wine; the shop was once wine merchants John Sarson & Son, […]
Karate, USA Nails (former Singer Building), Coronation Building, 82 High Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Dilapidated grandeur, tiled with images of empire. Designed by Leicester architect Arthur Wakerley, it was the Singer […]
Blunts Shoes, 128-132 Granby Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Immense deco bunker built in 1932 to house the Harris furniture store, and still with period fittings inside. Blunts (whose giant Shropshire signage […]
Work Partnership (former Temperance Hotel), 125 Granby Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Prosaic palimpsest in a derelict 1853 portal that once led to the empire of travel agency pioneer Thomas Cook, who started […]
Unicoat House (Stalbridge Dry Cleaners), 151 Granby Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Golden Arts and Crafts lettering for a long-gone business competes with brash plastic signage below. It looks like the upper text was […]
Midland Auction Mart (Stan James), 16 Market Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • From grand auctioneer to closed-down bookie. Designed in the Italianate style by Millican and Smith in 1876 (you […]
John Lewis, Showcase Cinema, Highcross Shopping Centre, Vaughan Way (seen from All Saints, Highcross Street), Leicester LE1 • Leicester’s newest chunk of retail bling, by architects Foreign Office. It’s seen […]
The Turkey Cafe, 24 Granby Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Tiled turkey on 1901 art nouveau fantasia by important Leicester architect Arthur Wakerley (who, as we shall see, was a man of […]
Kingstone, 66-67 Belgrave Gate, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Modernist grade II listed 1937 furniture store with pink Vitrolite stripes, designed by Australian architect and glass fan Raymond McGrath. It’s only the second-known […]
Wetherspoons, The Corn Exchange, Market Place South, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Leicester’s most striking commercial building – the former Corn Exchange – is now a pub. And there’s plenty more faded grandeur […]
Trim Time Barber Shop, 6 Northampton Street, Leicester LE1, 2016 • Best barber’s clock ever! And kicking off a series of photos from the very interesting city of Leicester (since […]
Golden Horse, Weekes, 178 Fawcett Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Fantastical handcrafted takeaway next to unit with 1950s-looking ghost sign. There was a garage elsewhere in Southsea called Weekes […]
Percy Harrison, 117 Elm Grove, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • 1950s-style optician that looks too perfect to be real, but it is. I though it was closing down, but […]
Southern TV Services, 60 Albert Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Sunnily-signpainted TV shop, which like yesterday’s gem I first spotted via the Instagram feed of Steve Wilde (known as @SteveWild on both Instagram […]
W. Austin, 300 Garratt Lane, Earlsfield, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW18, 2016 • I was alerted to this two-part wooden-shuttered lawnmower-cum-saw-sharpening gem by the excellent Instagram feed of Steve Wilde, aka @SteveWilde. […]
Michael de Carle, 75 Hook Road, Surbiton, Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames, London KT6, 2916 • Beautiful yet sad coiffeur found via a tweet from Phil Day aka @HappyPlums. He also tweeted an image […]
Kenon, 360 Old Kent Road, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2016 • Traditional plumber’s merchant with magnets in its logo (once a common hardware store motif), and an artistic display of […]
C. Bain of Upminster, 164 Upminster Road, Upminster, Borough of Havering, London RM14, 2016 • Stunning old signage on a traditional removals business, who also have beautifully painted vans. Their […]
Holy, 540 Holloway Road, Borough of Islington, London N7, 2016 • Unusual name for a Chinese takeaway – perhaps they meant divine. But it seemed a good option for Christmas day…
Baptist Church (Iceland), 21 North Street, Hornchurch, Borough of Havering, London RM11, 2016 • Bargain food meets Christian worship – just the place to procure Christmas lunch.
The Hobby Shop & Hockey Hub, 190 Elm Park Avenue, ElmPark, Hornchurch, Borough of Havering, London RM12, 2016 • Mid-century lettering on blue Vitrolite for an emporium that mixes DIY and hockey wares.
The Chocolate Box, Farncombe Street, Farncombe, Godalming, Surrey, 2016 • Wooden-lettered ghost sign on what looks like a private house, but presumably used to be the local sweetshop. Love the way the car […]
Nicholas, 147 Friar Street, Reading RG1, 2016 • Grand premises for an estate agent founded in 1882, but no longer resident. Note beautiful teak 1960s door handles in Profil font […]
Smelly Alley Fruit Basket (Dudmans of Reading), 11b UnionStreet, Reading […]
Hanley Shopping Centre, East Precinct, East West Centre, Old Hall Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, 2010 • Classic grim 1960s new town-style shopping precinct, which by 2016 was completely derelict. There have been plans […]
New Peking Inn (Playpaint), Milroy Walk, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2011 (top) and 2001 (bottom two) • From Chinese food to fine art in grim 1970s precinct that’s now […]
Woolworths, Pizza Hut (Glasgow), 199-201 Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland, 2008 • Jaunty red modernist corner abutting one of the last 200 Woolworths stores to close down. The fatal day was 6 Jan 2009; […]
Tony’s, 195-205 Union Street, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2011 • Not sure what service Tony offered – haircuts maybe – but the graffiti says, twice, that he’s a big […]
Post Office (Manchester), 42 Long Millgate, Manchester, 2010 • Ex-post office (there must be more closed-down than open ones these days) that appears to have also housed a coiffeur called […]
Radio Days, 87 Lower Marsh,Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2010 (top) & 2015 (bottom) • Original black Vitrolite on a long-established vintage emporium whose Biba-esque frontage and evocative 1940s soundtrack […]
The Lambeth Walk, 17 Lambeth Road, Waterloo, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2010 • Last call for a net-curtained council estate boozer that was opened by Pearly folk in 1951 (Pathe footage […]
Pitchers (Caffe Nero), 91 High Street, Godalming, Surrey, 2016 • Attractive ghost-step for a knitwear emporium, now leading to a Caffe Nero. Pitchers was a sports sweater manufacturer founded in the 1880s […]
Moulding Works, 10 Leake Street, Waterloo, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2006 • Big green-brick titling on a handsome building next to Waterloo’s ex-Eurostar terminal. The text-decorated sides were briefly revealed by building works […]
Sister Ray, 34-35 Berwick Street, Soho, City of Westminster, London W1, 2015 • Angel wings poster outside closed-down record shop, designed to attract selfie-posers – which it did. Sister Ray […]
Hagan-Brown Dental Laboratories, 3-4 Burford Road, Stratford, Borough of Newham, London E15, 2006 • There’s something rather creepy about dental labs, especially when they include advertisements for crack.
Luigi of Mayfair, 55 High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, 2005 • Luigi of Mayfair of Shoreham, complete with random word-spacing – the essence of 1950s gentility. Not surprisingly it’s long-gone; […]
Hair Talk, 12 High Street, Rottingdean, East Sussex, 2004 • Seaside crimper with eyeless 1960s woman in its sign, and giant-haired 1970s woman in its window. It was beneath a faded […]
Rang & Sons Ltd., 105 Hackney Road, Borough of Hackney, London E2, 2006 • Weathered old sign revealed by a newer one falling off, though it’s not clear what the full […]
Poundland (Reading), 118-119 Friar Street, Reading, Berrkshire, 2015 • Unusual arts and crafts-cum-brutalist building, an incongruous setting for a Poundland (apart from the weeds). It has an ecclesiastical look – […]
London Center College, Cumming Street, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2006 • Impressive sign! Not only does it namecheck Oxford and Cambridge universities, it offers ‘assistance’ with visas. Hmmm.
The Porthole, 11 New Quay, Duke Street, North Shields, 2013 • Striking listed real ale pub, once called The Golden Fleece. The venue later closed for good was turned into an architects’ office (article […]
Video Scene, 33 Station Road, Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, 2006 • Love the random word spacing on this. I’m not saying Birchington’s old-fashioned, but it probably does still have a video scene.
Pearly Pies, Borough Market, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2002 • A platoon of elderly pearly pie-sellers, some of whom are surely no longer on with us.
Chez Michele, Wokit, Borough Market, Stoney Street, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2015 • Arty graffiti above chi-chi shops – think of it as abstract flames for Bonfire Night.
W.H. Walkers Livery & Bait Stables, 1 Minnis Road, Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, CT7, 2006 • An intriguingly illegible palimpsest of a ghost sign. In full, what I can make out on the […]
Cabinet Benches, side of 2 Hoxton Street, London N1, 2006 • I have no idea what cabinet benches are, but they probably don’t make them any more. The ghost sign is still […]
Barbers Teas Always Please, side of CC’s Hair Design, 423 Witton Road, Aston, Birmingham B6, 2016 • Gorgeous carnivalesque ghost sign featuring Little Miss Barber with a tea pack hat, […]
Raymond Revuebar, 11 Walker’s Court , City of Westminster, London W1, 2015 • We saw this in its fading 2002 incarnation yesterday; in 2008 its owner Paul Raymond died, and his granddaughters inherited his Soho […]
Raymond Revuebar, 11 Walker’s Court , City of Westminster, London W1, 2002 • The badly-letterspaced world centre of erotic entertainment, London’s historic Raymond Revuebar, home also of the famous Madame Jo-Jo’s […]
Funky Rooms, 499 Hackney Road, Borough of Hackney, London E2, 2006 • Grimly quaint concrete facade, which I originally thought housed a nightclub, but a commenter tells me was a furniture shop. […]
Govan Discount 2, 1014 Govan Road, Govan, Glasgow G51, Scotland, 2010 • I wonder what Govan Discount 1 Superstore is like? This branch is next door to yesterday’s Chung’s, and still looks […]
Chung’s, 1012 Govan Road, Govan, Glasgow G51, Scotland, 2010 • Special dishes in long trays – what more could you want? Still there in 2015.
Servewell Cafe, West Lane, Southwark, London SE16, 2001 • Nice name – though you wouldn’t call it Servebadly Cafe, would you. It’s now got a double frontage and a new […]
Chiffon (Engineering Services) Ltd, Almond Road, Bermondsey, Borough of Southwark, London SE16, 2002 • Beautiful retro name and logo for an engineering firm.
City Music, Arch 15, Queensway Arches, Livery Street, Birmingham B3, 2013 • Blue Monday featuring nice, albeit 1980s (ish) windows.
City Confectionery, 105 Shoreditch High Street, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, 2006 & 2002 • Maybe the flat-dweller crept in under the angled shutter. The top photo is from 2006, when it […]
City Motors, 7 Wadsworth Road, Perivale, Borough of Ealing, London UB6, 2006 • Classical portal for car wreck specialist. The door is still there, but the sign has gone, and […]
V&P Fox Master Locksmiths, 91a St Martin’s Lane, City of Westminster, London WC2, 2015 • Tiny trad locksmith (est 1969) in big grand entrance.
D.C. Auto Electrics, 429 Hornsey Road, Borough of Islington, London N19, 2010 • Grand pillars, graphic colour scheme, and a well-signposted post box. Still there, too.
Dental Surgery, 10 Station Way, Peckham, Borough of Southwark, London SE15, 2010 • Dusky pink decay with a charming spelled-out street number, and an upstairs window offering ‘Dental Surge’. This part […]
Ashley’s The Wool Shop, 62 Dyer Street, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, 2007 • Superb old ‘wool’ sign – note colour reversal in frame.
Odds & Sods, 81 Goldsmiths Row, Borough of Hackney, London E2, 2006 • Amusingly uncompromising name, with the qualification that “almost” anything is traded (including E.C.T.) – that’s quite a get-out […]
Guardian Assurance Building, 21-23 Clare Street, Bristol BS1, 2015 • Not sure what lies behind this impressive marble and steel portal now, but it’s not insurance firm Guardian Assurance, which was established […]
Bureau de Change, Praed Street, Earl’s Court, City of Westminster, London W2, 2010 • Tiny grand building with romantic decay and incongruous metal cladding, now boringly spruced up.
Marks and Spencer Ltd Original Penny Bazaar, Units 133-138, Grainger Market, Grainger Street, Newcastle NE1, 2016 • This is actually the oldest M&S in the world, still trading from its […]
H. Samuel (Manchester), 7-7A upper Mall, Arndale Centre, High Street, Manchester, 2009 • Tiled 1970s bunker with missing letter – Manchester’s famous Arndale Centre, whose specially-commissioned beige ceramic facade was likened by Bill Bryson […]
E. Watson & Son & Daughter, The Joiners Arms, 120 & 116-118 […]
Daniel Lewis & Son Ltd T/A W.H. Clark, 493-495 Hackney Road, Borough of Hackney, London E2, 2006 • Established in 1797 as Presland & Sons, and boasting a 19th century double-height […]
Familywear, 10 Station Road, Redhill, Surrey, 1981 • A 1950s-looking shop closed down by the 1980s. And that’s the last ancient photo for now.
Causette, circa Arwenack Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, 1981 • Faded 1960s-style cafe facade rocking Profil font, and doubtless offering unappetising old-school espresso. I don’t know what’s there now, but it was […]
Cyber Café, Unit 1, New Broadway, Tarring Road, Worthing, West Sussex, 1999 • Hand-painted digital type meets 1960s mosaic on this sad closed down internet cafe. By 2015 the unit housed Attic Solutions, […]
Empire Milk Bar, Picadilly Circus Tube Station, City of Westminster, London W1, 1988 • True fact – there was a 1930s-style milk bar operational in the orange-columned depths of Piccadilly Circus tube […]
Olympia Dining Rooms, 5-6 Wincott Parade, Kennington Road, Kennington, Borough of Lambeth, London SE11, 1988 • An original ‘Dining Rooms’ photographed just as it was closing down. Who knew that […]
Ying Ho, London Shoe Rebuilder J. Poole, 232 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW15, 1981 • Now for a few really ancient shots I took from a bus […]
Woo Lot, 592 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, Borough of WalthamForest, London E10, 2016 • Great name, great (literally) sign.
Phoenix Snooker Club, 634 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, Borough of Waltham Forest, London E10, 2016 • Fancy buying a billiard hall? Free Profil font included. The quirky facades are part […]
Greggs (Leyton), 857 High Road, Leyton, Borough of Waltham Forest, London E10, 2016 • I went all the way to Leyton to photograph this 1930s Greggs and it was closed! […]
Floorcraft, 20a Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent, 2002 • DIY sign-painting meets mini-grandeur. Now houses Oxford Street Books.
Falcon Print Transport, 310 High Street, Stratford, Borough of Newham, London E15, 2006 • Mini art deco print transport HQ, next to the fabulous West Ham Labour Party building. Now […]
Amazon Hair, 92 Fowler Street, South Shields, South Tyneside, 2013 • A hair-cutter who’s cut out their window. Brilliant! It’s still there but now painted brown and white. Hope the eponymous online book-selling […]
Famished Cafe, 2 Kilburn Bridge, Kilburn, Borough of Brent, London NW6, 2012 • Nice name on a colourful frontage, now replaced by Roosters Piri Piri.
Jacobean Corsetry, 53 Virginia Street, Merchant City, Glasgow G1, Scotland, 2010 • Giant golden ghost sign from a corsetry firm founded in 1946, whose wares have featured in Jack Vettriano paintings. Sales […]
D’Posh, 103 Strand, City of Westminster, London WC2, 2011 • V posh Savoy surroundings for D’Posh clothes shop, which later became Laird Hatters.
G. Smith & Sons, 74 Charing Cross Road, City of Westminster, London WC2, 2011 • I thought this ancient snuff specialist would always be there, but it closed unceremoniously in 2011 with […]