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.
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.
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.