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.
Tyres Tyres (FWR), 330 Kennington Road, Borough of Lambeth, London SE11, 2005 • Unusual cross-shaped ghost sign for tyres, situated above motorcycle parts shop FWR. The sign had disappeared by 2008.
Green boarded shop, 294-292 Kennington Park Road, Borough of Lambeth, London SE11, 2005 • Boarded-up shop, a symphony in greens. Now Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, part of Kennington’s ever-growing nest of […]
Cat & Cucumber Café, 182 Tower Bridge Road, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2003 • Nice name, wayward accent, grim rear aspect. Popular and still-extant greasy spoon once immortalised in […]
Gray and Lowe, 91 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Amazing giant sign with random letter spacing. Their “blog-site” says they’ve been going […]
Vivian Patisserie, 62 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Its patisserie identity seems to predate the Chinese cafe within. Back in 2008 it was […]
Bransdon (CB News), 86 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Identikit newsagent-cum-homeless shelter retaining ghost sign for a previous occupant; you can see […]
White Horse, 31 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Pub which has shrunk to its former saloon bar – the rest now being the supermarket […]
Shepherd and Flock, 84 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Built 1869, a traditional Irish sports pub hanging on in an area popular with […]
A. Cooke’s, Joe Coral (Fabric House Ltd), 48, 46 Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London W12, 2016 • Founded 1899, and located at this address since 1934, […]
S.G. Skinner, 14 Church Street, Hereford, Herefordshire, 2008 • No longer offering high class footwear repairs, this appears to be a charity shop dedicated to saving neolithic trackway the Rotherwas Ribbon. By […]
W.G. Miller, 93-95 Essex Road, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2012 • The kind of funeral parlour that does horse-drawn hearses. This handsome black facade would have been traditional even when […]
W.G. Pillar & Co., 1 Lower Street, Dartmouth, Devon, 2013 • Like a souvenir shop newly minted from the 1950s – but still there 2015. Note stop sign incorporated into […]
Dartmouth Boating Centre, 6S Embankment, Dartmouth, Devon, 2013 • Classic old-school ‘flying clothes’ display and almost-but-not-quite Profil font. The letters continued falling off, and by 2015 it was called Artmouth Boating […]
Stuarts, 75 High Street Whitstable, Kent, 2002 (top) and 85 High Street, Herne Bay, Kent 2004 (bottom) • Flowery plastic branding carried all the way through their decor. The Whitstable branch […]
Grants, 32 Earlsdon Sreet, Coventry, Warwickshire, 2013 • Minimalistic plastic elegance for this 1960s-style hairdressing facade, still there in 2015.
Grant’s Fish Bar, 14 Upper High Street, Epsom, Surrey, 2002 • Notable for its mutant fish illustration. By 2015 it was chicken joint Maxy Express.
Nanny Janet’s, 22 Milton Road, Gravesend, Kent, 2015 • Unusual family-based name for a burger bar.
Granny’s Kitchen, 38 Westoe Road, South Shields, 2013 • Shiny black plastic for Granny. What a pity the shutters were down on the day I passed by, it’s all curtained […]
Gio’s Kitchen, 79 Lower Marsh, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2004 • The windows look like a Sarah Lucas artwork and the flag couldn’t save it. One of many short-lived cafes on this […]
Giovanni’s Room Wine Bar, 42 Theobalds Road, Borough of Camden, London WC1, 2003 • Faded 1970s chalet chic with name like a dodgy erotic novel – love the standalone door awning. I’ve already published its […]
Giovanni Hair Artiste, Cosmo Chicken Bar, 936, 934 Govan Road, Govan, Glasgow G51, Scotland, 2010 • Ambitious titles meet random plastic typography and very old coke branding. Still there in 2015, though it […]
Collins & Jervie, 32 Sycamore Road, Amersham, Buckinghamshire • There are some interesting modernist houses around Amersham so I hoped it would be a trove of old shop signs. But […]
Coe Electrical, 132 High Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, 2007 • Looks like the plug was pulled decades ago on this old-style electrical shop. By 2015 it was unrecognisable as Sew Fabric.
Fenhams, 119 and 11c Grainger Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2005 • Beautiful 1960s sign for this electonics stall – not sure if it’s there any more.
John Turnbull, 483 Anlaby Road, Kingston upon Hull, 2005 • Bullish old newsie with eponymous plastic illustration, seen from bus. Later became Babylon Supermarket.
Book’s, 230 High Street, Gateshead, Tyneside, 2005 • Not a bookshop or a typo, it’s a fashion shop run by someone named Book (and shot in the dark and rain). I […]
Ian Munro, 10 High Street, Dorking, Surrey, 2002 • Marble and script for a men’s outfitter founded in 1956. This would have been an expensive shopfront in its day; the labyrinthine […]
Welcome to Super Azarbayjan, 65 Hackney Road, Borough of Hackney, London E2, 2007 • Surely one of the best shop names ever. By 2012 it was a hip-looking shop with […]
Camden £1 Shop, 35 Camden High Street, Borough of Camden, London NW1, 2003 • Rush hour for £1 items, including toilettries and stationeries. Currently an ice cream-cum-phone shop.
Camera Care, 20 Hanway Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2005 • The number’s so old it’s got a burglar alarm stuck over it. Part of a hippyish enclave behind Oxford Street […]
Sunshine Cafe, 36 Hanway Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2003 • Cheerful back alley jerk joint hindered by London downpour. Later became Vinyl Bar, and developers knocked the other side […]
Biman, 49 Counduit Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2016 • A Mayfair airline office that’s still there, with classic 1960s-style sign – they’ve even got the regulation model plane.
Gulf Air, 10 Albemarle Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2004 • Another ex-airline office dating from the pre-mega-bling era of Mayfair. By 2015 this one was a Paul Smith menswear shop.
Olympic Airways, 11 Counduit Street, City of Westminster, London W1, 2015 • Current state of a once-proud airline office, with classic plastic logo. Here it is open in 2008. There used to […]
Olympic Private Hire, 153 Kingston Road, Borough of Merton, London SW19, 2010 • The kind of business that Uber is now seeing off. By 2015 it was a closed-down florist.
Olympic Internet Cafe, 24 West Ham Lane, Borough of Newham, London E15, 2006 • Not the most exciting shopfront, but a nice hand-painted sign with old-style phone. And just look at […]
Cafe Olympic, 156 The Grove, Stratford, Borough of Newham, London E15, 2006 • Pallid colours on their way out. It’s now Babylon Kebabs, but in 2014 you can see an […]
Olympic Bar Sandwich Restaurant, 130 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2003 (top), 2010 (middle), 2011 (bottom) • Chinese take-away boasting various wonky title hierarchies over the years: Olympic Bar Sandwich Restaurant (or […]
Vassos Shoe Repairs, 47 Church Street, City of Westminster, London NW8, 2003 • Talk about waiting for the other shoe to drop; this was still there in 2015 but with right shoe gone, […]
Vinces Snack Bar, 61 Red Lion Street, City of Westminster, London WC1, 2003 • Genuinely classic cafe, just crying out for an apostrophe. Apparently the period formica interior was ripped out […]
Sima Tandoori, 295 Bethnal Green Road, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2005 • I’d love to know what the statue and neon figures represent – Hindu deities or just people offering greetings? By 2008 all […]
Hel’s Kitchen, Anchor Bay Industrial Estate, Manor Road, Erith, Kent, 2014 • Surely all food is hot in Hell? (Although it’s not that hellish, it’s got a food hygiene rating of […]
Marks & Spencer Simply Fool, Moto, Pinewood Service Station, Reading Road, Reading, Berkshire, 2011 • A simple but effective jape. Still makes me laugh when I see that sign, even […]
Yes Win No Fee, 451-3 North Circular Road, Neasden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2014 • Hard-to-parse name for a dispiriting modern service. The heavily armoured door is a relic of previous occupant National […]
Avis Windscreens, 1 Creekside, Deptford, Borough of Lewisham, London SE8, 2002 • DIY hand-painted gate on the garage which hosted (and covered up) yesterday’s old Medina sign. It is now Greenwich MOT Centre, with […]
Medina, 1 Creekside, Deptford, Borough of Lewisham, London SE8, 2002 • A 1910s-looking typeface, advertising who knows what – but I’d guess auto related, as this is a long-standing garage site. […]
L. Lambert, 23-25 Hoxton Street, Borough of Hackney, London N1, 2002 (top), 2011 (bottom) • Ex-timber merchant with ‘JFB 1892’ etched into the concrete brackets. By 2002 it was closed down, […]
Victory Telecom The Phone Shop, 1 Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, 2002 • Remains of a painted confectionery / tobaccos sign on anonymous premises that my researches suggest is Victory Telecom The […]
Bag Shop, Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight, 2002 • Idiosyncratic and somewhat hippyish hand-made signs from the Isle of Wight – even the door gets labelled. Unusually I didn’t […]
Whirlpool, 124 Battersea Park Road, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW11, 2002 • Still there but with ‘modern’ logo, boo hoo.
Stretched Fabric Systems, 68a Compton Street, Borough of Islington, London EC1, 2008 • Not sure what this means, but now it’s gone: by 2012 it was Whistle Dry Cleaners.
MF Design, Miracle Signs and Wonders Ministries, White Hart Lane, […]
Tikis Hairdressers, 49 Old Bethnal Green Road, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2006 • Wibbly hand-drawn sunbed text on local hair salon, next to yesterday’s Spotless cleaners. By 2015 it was […]
Spotless, 51 Old Bethnal Green Road, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2006 (top), 2007 • Classic cleaner’s name in eccentric acrylic lettering. A year later it had a new look, although […]
Worthing Lido Coffee Bar, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex, 2002 • Hand-painted signs from the days when no-one had a mobile phone, which also reveal a transition from ‘Coffee Bar’ (presumably too […]
The Take-Away Bar, 84 Southwark Street, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2003 • Old-fashioned name in a grim 1960s block just behind Tate Modern, dating from the era when it was a backwater power station. […]
Tasty Café, 72 St John Street, Borough of Islington, London EC1, 2013 • Surely the greatest generic name of them all. Features somewhat unenthusiastically on Classic Cafes, while Food Urchin describes […]
Web Sites £100 N Up, circa 246 Battersea Park Road, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW11, 2002 • Websites sold via lamp post, four years before Facebook opened to the public. No […]
Designer Web Site’s, circa 26 Kingsland Road, Borough of Hackney, London E2, 2002 • Ah, the heady days when websites (or should that be web site’s) were sold via flyposters […]
Thames Electronics, 244 Battersea Bridge Road, Borough of Wandsworth, London SW11, 2002 • Imposing haven of now-obsolete tech which by 2012 had modernised into a computer repairer, but was closed by 2015.
The Sir John Franklin, 269 East India Dock Road, Poplar, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E14, 2006 • Unlovely boozer built near Blackwall Tunnel’s hell-mouth in 1963; this Manns sign looks […]
To The Weir, Lee’s Bakery, 107-109 Terrace Road, Walton on Thames, Surrey, 2002 • Enigmatic sign that’s not a reference to Virginia Woolf, but nearby Courage pub The Weir. It’s alongside […]
Gene Pearl (Buttons) Ltd., 2 Bridge Road, Willesden, Borough of Brent, London NW10, 2004 • Apt name for a buttoneer, which sounds like a rock’n’roll singer, and looks like concrete poetry. It was […]
Dane, JP Filtration Ltd, 133-135 High Street, Stratford, Borough of Newham, London E15, 2007 • Doggy tiled ghost sign (incorporating graffiti fart) from an ink company specialising in fluorescents, which left […]
Strand Station, Kingston Show, Photos, 171 Strand, City of Westminster, London WC2, 2003 • Despite the name this was actually Aldwych tube station, which closed for good in 1994. It’s often used for filming […]
Cappelli, 31 Leg Street, Oswestry, Shropshire, 2014 • Delicate art nouveau tiles in old-fangled Oswestry – note also swirly mosaic step hidden beneath doormat. Perhaps it was once a dairy or grocer; […]
Worlds Stores (Richmond House), 18 High Street, Gravesend, Kent, 2015 • Tiled ghost sign for a pre-supermarket chain of grocers. There’s an informative thread on Kent History here including a recentish […]
Sing Lee Fish & Chips, 39 Guildford Road, Brighton, East Sussex, 2004 • Tiled oriental chippie with vintage Cooper Black Italic sign, unchanged by 2015.
G. & K. Sanders Fish Merchant, 39 High Street, Budleigh Salterton, Devon, 2013 • Old tiled fish on a premises that’s been a fishmongers for 70 years. In 2015 G. & K. Sanders made […]
Fredk E. Gillett Ltd., 183 Vauxhall Bridge Road, City of Westminster, London SW1, 2007 • Ex-paint shop with illustrated tiles (see bottom pics) in prime central London, now presumably a […]
The Swan Inn, Old Orchard, Poole, Dorset, 2004 • Pub sited next to the famous Poole Pottery, who supplied the tiles in 1906. Locals mounted a fight against demolition a century later; the pub […]
Aysel & Aysel Souvenirs, St Anne’s Church, 67 Shaftesbury Avenue, […]
Glenn’s Barbers, 9 St John’s Road, Whitstable, Kent, 2002 • Great DIY lettering on this traditional red-and-white barber. It was still the same in 2014, except the decaying cafe sign […]
National Westminster House, 103 Colmore Row, Birmingham, 2014 • Fine brutalist pile with a sculpted metal portal based on the Natwest logo. Designed by John Madin, it opened in 1975 as a National […]
London Navaids, Playwell, Sheraton Business Centre, 33-34 Wadsworth Road, Perivale, Borough of Ealing, London UB6, 2006 • Angular spire on a decaying art deco business centre. The whole industrial estate is very […]
Caffyns, Corner of King Street and Little King Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex, 2004 • A round-towered deco garage with mossy tiled clock eternally stuck at noon. Built by two local businessmen in 1935, this development […]
The Robert Sinclair Tobacco Coy Ltd, Blenheim House, 245-7 Westgate Road, Newcastle, 2013 • Est 1836 and once a major firm, Sinclair’s was noted for blends such as Ladies Twist, […]
Tobacco & Cigars (Thirtyone), 31 Kingsbury, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, 2010 • Huge carcinogenic ghost sign, which remains in place while the restaurant below changes.
Rogers & Son Famous for Fish & Chips, 43 St Peter’s Road, Great Yarmouth, Suffolk, 2007 • Est 1923 and fame notwithstanding, this boastily bonkers emporium was boarded up when I passed by, so […]
The Posh Banger Boys, Borough Market, Stoney Street, Borough of Southwark, London SE1, 2015 • Doesn’t look that posh to me; and in fast-changing Borough Market, it’ll be something else […]
Insurelink Financial Services Ltd, 176 London Road North, Lowestoft, Suffolk, 2007 • Grand green and white chambers, somewhat let down by utilitarian windows. Last spotted on Google in 2012.
R.M.V. Double Glazing, 77/78 Frederick Place, Borough of Greenwich, London SE18, 2004 • Ostensibly a fantastically grim and unpromising building, but there’s a bit of Edwardian lettering peeping through the […]
Metro Test, 182 Hercules Road, Waterloo, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2006 • Beautiful hand-lettered sign (note alternating direction of shadows) on railway arch MOT centre, now demolished to create smart […]
The Silver Sixpence, 12 Catford Hill, Catford, Borough of Lewisham, London SE6, 2010 • Whimsical name for a ramshackle door-stripper that looks pieced together from scrap. By 2015 it was even more derelict.
JS (Locksmiths) Ltd, 1 King Street, East Grinstead, West Sussex, 2004 • Rustic frontage with thorny DIY logo. It’s still there, with brickwork now smartly painted yellow – how fab.
J.J. Lyons, 1a Central Parade, Western Avenue, Perivale, Borough of Ealing, London UB6, 2006 • Tradition amidst grime at the foot of a shabby walkway over a thundering trunk road. Now houses the unfortunately-named Isis hair […]
Isats, 309 Gray’s Inn Road, Borough of Camden, London WC1, 2015 • Decaying but still shiny black ‘Brilliant’-style Vitrolite cladding on what may once have been a smart shop, but now houses Isats, […]
Jimmy’s Cafe, 56 Townmead Road, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London SW6, 2003 • Traditional corner caff opposite a crumbling riverside warehouse, which both hung on (albeit closed down) until 2008 at […]
South Merstham Pharmacy., 55 Nutfield Road, Merstham, Surrey, 2002 • Cute and useful 1960s-throwback post office-cum-pharmacy. It’s now a bland Day Lewis pharmacy with no postie (although the mosaic remains).
Harringtons, 5 Waterloo Road, Epsom, Surrey, 2002 • Local baker whose brown 1970s frontage matches the handsome parade. It had gone by 2009 (as had a Leatherhead branch) and now houses a […]
Sean Brennan Racing, 8 New Broadway, Tarring Road, Worthing, West Sussex, 2003 • Stylishly symmetrical windows from the motherlode of superannuation that is Worthing. Creepy circus posters seem to denote closed businesses (circuses […]
Marks Cleaning, 15-16 New Broadway, Tarring Road, Worthing, West Sussex, 2003 • Really not a great name for a cleaner, especially with no apostrophe. Later housed a photographer, then a chartered accountant.
Reg the Veg, 6 Boyce’s Avenue, Clifton, Bristol, 2015 • Cute veg vendor in posh Clifton Village. Has a fine display when open for business.
Posies, 1a Union Road,Clapham North, Borough of Lambeth, London SW4, 2005 • Functional ex-florist; despite its pretty name, a clinical facade giving equal billing to weddings and funerals isn’t very enticing. Later became a hairdresser.
Valerie Florists, 77 High Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, 2010 • Traditional corner florist established over 40 years, boasting a decayed painting of a bouquet. It was still open in 2011, but is now a Premier Food […]
Nursery Thyme, Rabbit, 2 Bridge Street, Sunderland, 2013 • Unusual herby wordplay for a kids’ shop. Note sign for Rabbit (the upside-down R right of the centre window), an early mobile network that […]
Rose-anne, 95 High Street, Rye, East Sussex, 2015 • Rye is full of faux retro shops, but here’s a real one. It was once a genteel ladies’ outfitter, now it’s finis, […]
Happy Shopper (J.R. Blanche), 74 Brixton Road, Borough of Lambeth, London SW9, 2001 • And here, for the sake of completeness, is what the J.R. Blanche Happy Shopper looked like […]
Import & Export (J.R. Blanche), 76 Brixton Road, Borough of Lambeth, London SW9, 2001 • This anonymous import-export business with brutal redactions is what J.R. Blanche looked like 15 years ago. […]