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.
Emerald Express Dry Cleaners, 789 Lea Bridge Road, Walthamstow, Borough of Waltham Forest, London E17, 2004 • Old-school plastic plus shaky self-promotion by someone called Steven Randall.
R. Laucher, 302 Battersea Park Road, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW11, 2002 • Founded in 1954 by Roman Laucher, a Pole who learnt horology while serving with the British navy […]
W.J. Fox & Sons, 37 High Street, Whitstable, Kent, 2002 • Battered tobacconist with ghost sign saying “Established 1863” and a deep arcade entrance. A contemporary gallery later moved in and […]
Roger K. Flatters, 35 Queen Street, Wolverhampton WV1, 2016 • Flatters – what a wonderful name for an optician. The Eurostyle font, old phone number, mosaic fascia and marble surround […]
Roger of Finchley, 5 Fortis Green, Finchley, Borough of Barnet, London N2, 2003 • Fnarr fnarr. By 2008 it was called The Retreat, which it still is.
Yank Pizza, 28 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Unfortunate name.
Booty Food & Wine, 272 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Great name – and it’s actually part of a chain.
Brookford Launderette, 243 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Part of a local chain, all with no-nonsense sans serif logos.
Khubsoorat, 540 North Circular Road, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Bollywood name in a Hollywood font. There’s a famous 1980 Bollywood film called Khubsoorat – in which […]
Charlie’s Inn, 240-242 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Irish bar submerged in foliage, amidst gritty concrete surrounds.
Sal’s Bar, 249 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Like a tiny little cottage amidst a sea of Lycamobile shops. It sounds American, but in fact […]
The Hairdressers, 282 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Generic name in old-school font on slatted 1960s-style signboard.
Norman Hart Optician, 6 Neasden Parade, 250 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Old school optician in grimy 1930s parade.
Capital Car Colours, 372 Neasden Lane North, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Scruffy car paint palimpsest with what looks like a brick wall inside the door.
Noko, 358 Neasden Lane North, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • African food business within a decomposing facade. Pluvera chicken, aka “hard” chicken, is for stewing. It’s described […]
Way 2 Save, 295-297 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Giant colourful shop of everything, open 24 hours.
Ambassador Bakery, 376 Neasden Lane North, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Cheerful Romanian bakery in a ruinous surround.
Neasden Halal Meat, 276 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • More like Neasden Bottled Water…
Neasden Shopping, 237 Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Jam-packed array of international services under the peeling name of Neasden Shopping.
Neasden Parade, Neasden Lane, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2016 • Art deco parade that has seen better days. Even the ‘A’ is dropping off…
Beatties (House of Fraser), 71-78 Victoria Sreet, Wolverhampton WV1, 2016 • Beatties is a defunct Midlands store chain that grew from a drapery business founded in 1877; all branches have […]
The Posada, 48 Lichfield Street, Wolverhampton WV1, 2016 • Fancy art nouveau tiled pub in a grade II listed row of shops. Pub History shows Kellys Directory recording it from 1912, […]
Woks Wong, The Mikado Buildings, 79 Elm Grove, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Punning Chinese takeaway in the aptly oriental Mikado Buildings, named after the Gilbert & Sullivan opera. The […]
The French, 190 Albert Road, Southsea, City ofPortsmouth, 2016 • Brightly shuttered ex-bakery with what looks like an original 1930s sign, possibly dating from the legend that reads: “Prop R.S. […]
Embassy Ninja, 147 Albert Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Curiously-named visa advisor, whose graffitied shutter is now closed for good.
H. E. King, 26 Albert Road, Southsea, City ofPortsmouth, 2016 • Very old newsagents shuttered due to the death of its 87-year-old owner, Ray King – the shop had been […]
James Henry (Hampel & Sons), Victoria Buildings, 171 Elm Grove, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • 1978-founded crimper beneath an even older ghost sign, in a grand tiled parade. Maybe […]
Nearly New Electrics, 97 Albert Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Colourful car key purveyor – one of many charming old-fashioned shopfronts on this stretch of road.
Pompey on a Roll, 210 Albert Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Punning eaterie with optimistic Portsmouth FC-themed name. No one seems to know why Portsmouth is called Pompey, […]
Pompey Hardware (Keys Kingdom), 92 Fawcett Road, Southsea, City of Portsmouth, 2016 • Completely brilliant shop themed in blue and white after Portsmouth’s football team, aka Pompey. The owner even […]
Imperial Cinema (Peugeot Crawley Down), 5 Brighton Road, Crawley, West Sussex, 2002 • Car showroom behind the facade of a 1928 movie theatre, which closed after WW2. The dealership has now gone […]
Imperial Pharmacy, 4 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 2014 • Grand drugstore in an 1804 Georgian bath house; a niche housing the chalybeate (iron-rich) spring that gave the town its […]
Imperial Dry Cleaners, 12 Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, Borough of Waltham Forest, London E17, 2016 • Newly-painted faux ghost signage in a regeneration area.
The Imperial Pearl Co, 24 Hatton Garden, Borough of Camden, London EC1, 2004 and 2012 • Neon sign in London’s faded jewellery quarter. Presumably it’s named after Imperial China, as […]
Imperial Works, Fountayne Road, South Tottenham, Borough of Haringey, London N15, 2016 • Once-great name for a graffitied complex that now houses artists’ workhops.
Imperial Wines, 2 Battersea Park Road, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW11, 2002 • Strange pink mock Tudor building, with which this ornate Edwardian frontage was presumably contemporary. Amazingly by 2008 […]
W.J. Armstrong Ltd, 12 London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, 2004 • Classic Sandeman sign – port one side, sherry the other – featuring its famous fedora and cloak-clad ‘Don’ […]
Zoe’s Gobble & Go, Westgate Terrace, Folkestone, Kent, 2002 • Immobilised mobile snack bar with less-than-enticing name. I found it somewhere round here.
New Star, 8a Holmesdale Road, Reigate, Surrey, 2002 • Unusual ‘evening lunch’ offer meets impressive 1960s door handle at a matching angle. New Star’s DIY branding remained completely unchanged until 2014, and though the […]
Wok Inn, 88 High Street, Reigate, Surrey, 2002 • Always nice to see a pun on Wok. Later became Mexicode Fresh Mexican Kitchen, leaving the nearest wok outlet as Gourmet Wok, […]
Stride-In, 23 Octagon Parade, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, 2008 • Great name and 1970s-style wooden signboard for a men’s fashion shop undoubtedly specialising in ‘gear’ and ‘clobber’. Later moved and rebranded Stride […]
Sunfruit, The Centre, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, 2002 • Sunny, yet grim. Not-entirely-convincing rebrand from videos to fruit that was part of a bleak, now-demolished 1960s mall, The Centre, which I think was replaced […]
Jesus Kingdom City, Cannon Street, Bristol BS1, 2013 • Ex-church school whose plaque reveals a Theseus’s Paradox of a history: “St James’ School. Instituted benevolent School 1790. Sunday school 1801. Reconstructed 1913. […]
Jesus Mosque, Circa 86 Wrentham Street, Birmingham B5, 2016 • Decaying Victorian warehouse incorporating cross-faith centre. According to this 2008 article, a Jesus Mosque is either an attempt to encourage dialogue […]
Jesus Saves, Heals and Re, County Street, Elephant and Castle, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2012 • No idea what Jesus’s last action was, but regenerates would have been apt – […]
Devon & Exeter Jigsaw Puzzle Library, South Street Baptist Church Palace Gate Centre, 3 Palace Gate, Exeter, Devon, 2009 • Charming charity delivering gentle enjoyment to the time-rich since 1972, when it […]
Terry Discount Store, 51 High Street, Gravesend, Kent, 2015 • Large budget emporium offering “Most Products, Less And Bargain Price”. Who could ask for more?
Sainsbury’s (Reading), 52-55 Friar Street (and back entrance Greyfriars Road), Reading RG1, 2016 • Beautiful little ‘festival style’ supermarket building with fancy concrete screen, zig-zag canopy and all sorts of detailing, […]
Jackson’s Corner, 1-9 King’s Road, Reading RG1, 2016 (top), 2015 (bottom) • Famous Reading outfitters founded by Edward Jackson in 1875 (as discussed in the previous post), which closed down […]
Oxfam Book Shop, Bank Chambers, 8 High Street, Reading RG1, 2015 • Tiled and turreted folly which apparently housed the first shop – opened 1875 – of Edward Jackson, who later […]
Lloyds Bank, 147 High Street, Guildford, Surrey, 2016 • Superbly ornate old bank, which survives thanks to royalty: an inscription on the wall says: “Guildford Old Bank. Established 1765. This […]
HSBC, Fore Street, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Curious 1896 Italianate bank by George Dale Oliver, then county architect for Cumberland. The ornate red sandstone frieze (artist unknown) shows 16 putti holding swags […]
The Forum, 8-9 Market Place, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Art deco cinema still in operation, complete with with cafe and built-in J.D. Wetherspoons. It’s Northumberland’s only full-time cinema, and has […]
Garage sign, side of Cancer Research UK, 17 Priestpopple, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Ghost sign for a garage whose carriage gate is still there at the left of the Cancer […]
The Hexham Courant, Beaumont Street, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Historic name for a local rag, founded in 1864 and probably what the old lady at the bus stand in the previous post […]
Hexham Old Bus Station, Priestpopple, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Charming but doomed little art deco bus stand at the centre of an old-fashioned parade in the wonderfully named Priestpopple. There’s now […]
Royal Airforces Club, Mr Wolf, 2 Market Street, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Fancy woodwork with contrasting paint jobs for an oldfangled airforce club adjoined to a newfangled toy shop.
Vacant shop, 19 St Mary’s Chare, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Ornate gate grille on a vacant old shop – no idea what it originally sold.
Hares of Hexham, 45 Fore Street, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • A sign sellotaped to the door of this traditional tobacco / sweetie / shaving emporium says “closed until further notice”. Sadly, […]
T.E. Liddell Ltd, 9 Priestpopple, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Traditional fruiterer that looks older than it is – established 1985. Like the full stop after the surname (but not the […]
The Hexham Tans Vegetarian Restaurant, 11 St Mary’s Chare, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Palimpsest on oddly-named charity veggie caff, closed after 20 years. It soon reopened as Hextol Tans, offering “vegan-friendly, lacto” […]
Robson & Sons, 2 Meal Market, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Low-down script logo for 1864-founded family butcher, situated in the meal market where flour and grains were once sold. These days […]
20 Fore Street, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Incredibly ornate ex-pharmacy repurposed as fashion outlet. The early 20th century fascia is listed for its magnificent carved woodwork by the Belgian refugee M. Cullmans. Amazingly, it was […]
7 Beaumont Street, Hexham, Northumberland, 2016 • Old glazier’s shop repurposed as a picture framer’s gallery.
Jim’ll Mix It, Unit 1, Lusty Industrial Estate, Empson Street, Bromley-by-Bow, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E3, 2012 • Unfortunate Jimmy Savile-inspired name, not helped by being based on the Lusty […]
Hair and Body, Sole Man Shoe Repairs, 25 & 25a Corbets Tey Road, Upminster, Borough of Havering, London RM14, 2016 • From plain-talking head to punning toe in a faded […]
Roomes, 41-49 Station Road, Upminster, Borough of Havering, London RM14, 2016 • Immense deco-tiled store still in operation. The homeware firm Roomes was founded in 1888 this is their 1927 branch […]
Towers, 31 High Street, Hornchurch, Borough of Havering, London RM11, 2016 • Hard to believe, but this stunning 1935 ex-cinema is due for demolition. Lidl, who plan to replace it […]
Chatsworth Tyre Service, 114 Chatsworth Road, Clapton, Borough of Hackney, London E5, 2011 • Evocative signage on a garage shuttered in 2010 after 50 years of trading. I seem to […]
Arthur Toms, 84 Chatsworth Road, Clapton, Borough of Hackney, London E5, 2011 • Until 2010 this was a Chinese takeaway called Friends, though clearly it had previously been an eel and […]
Greggs Foods Ltd, 20 Chatsworth Road, Claptopn, Borough of Hackney, London E5, 2011 • No relation to the bakery chain; this is a Nigerian grocers which, according to its sign, used to sell: […]
Jim’s Cafe, 59 Chatsworth Road, Clapton, Borough of Hackney, London E5, 2011 • Italian cafe from the 1960s that once housed an ice cream factory, and closed circa 2008 when the […]
JJ Williams, 168 Kings Road, Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London SW3, 2003 • Impressively large 3D zipper sign. The shop is still there and amazingly has the same lettering, but the zipper […]
HH Muckers, Lordship Windows, c.481 Seven Sisters Road, Borough of Haringey, London N15, 2016 • HH Muckers – what a great name! Albeit partly obscured in what looks like a […]
Daily News, 616 Seven Sisters Road, Borough of Haringey, London N15, 2016 • According to Wikipedia, the Daily News was a radical left-leaning national newspaper founded in 1846 by Charles […]
Urchin Shells, The Quay, St Mawes, Cornwall, 2012 • A colourful Cornish honesty box. I remember cleaning sea urchins out with bleach when I was a kid. Aaaah, the sweet […]
Oakville Care Centre, 3 Badcox, Frome, Somerset, 2015 • Beautiful old stone heads decorating a boring shop. Titles include Summer, Mirth, Peace, Plenty, and one that’s unreadable. It’s part of Badcox […]
Lamb and Fountain, 57 Castle Street, Frome, Somerset, 2015 • Historic hillside pub, with superb views and a trapdoor to 17th century ice wells beneath. In 2008, it had one of England’s […]
Walmsley’s Furniture Superstore (ex), 50-51 Snow Hill, Wolverhampton WV1, 2016 • Not likely to trouble Ikea.
Wulfruna Coal Co, Minerva Wharf, Horseley Fields, Wolverhampton WV1, 2016 • Quaint arts and crafts style building for a firm founded in 1850. Their name is one you see often around Wolverhampton, Wulfruna […]
Newsagent, 5 Great Central Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • Interesting period frontage, which my researches suggest was called R.H. Hallam before it became simply Newsagent. It’s on the road from […]
Ellis’s Tearoom, Rothley Station, Great Central Railway, Rothley, Leicestershire, 2016 • Restored ghostsign for a Coke, Corn and Cake Merchants, now just selling cake on this heritage steam railway.
Container Link, Loughborough Central Station, Great Central Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • Peeling hand-painted logo for a superannuated container company in the Grand Central steam railway’s picturesque goods yard.
Griddle, Loughborough Central Station, Great Central Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • One-time restaurant carriage with a wonderful name. There’s already a Griddle car operating on the Great Central heritage steam line, so this is […]
W.H. Smith & Son Kiosk, Loughborough Central Station, Great Central Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • Restored kiosk from the days before they ungramatically rebranded as WHSmith, and became noted for […]
Denhams, 1 High Street, Loughborough, Leicestershire, 2016 • High street jeweller with grand golden mosaic (which is repeated round the corner). Denhams was there for 50 years, but recently taken over […]
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.