Skip to content

About the blog

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.

John Lewis

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 […]
John Lewis

The Turkey Cafe

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 […]
The Turkey Cafe

Kingstone

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 […]
Kingstone

Golden Horse, Weekes

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 […]
Golden Horse, Weekes

Percy Harrison

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 […]
Percy Harrison

Southern TV Services

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 […]
Southern TV Services

W. Austin

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. […]
W. Austin

Michael de Carle

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 […]
Michael de Carle

Kenon

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 […]
Kenon

Holy

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…
Holy

The Chocolate Box

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 […]
The Chocolate Box

Nicholas

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 […]
Nicholas

Hanley Shopping Centre

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 […]
Hanley Shopping Centre

Tony’s

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 […]
Tony’s

Radio Days

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 […]
Radio Days

The Lambeth Walk

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 […]
The Lambeth Walk

Pitchers (Caffe Nero)

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 […]
Pitchers (Caffe Nero)

Moulding Works

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 […]
Moulding Works

Sister Ray

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 […]
Sister Ray

Luigi of Mayfair

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; […]
Luigi of Mayfair

Hair Talk

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 […]
Hair Talk

Poundland (Reading)

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 – […]
Poundland (Reading)

The Porthole

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 […]
The Porthole

Video Scene

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. 
Video Scene

Funky Rooms

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. […]
Funky Rooms

City Music

City Music, Arch 15, Queensway Arches, Livery Street, Birmingham B3, 2013 • Blue Monday featuring nice, albeit 1980s (ish) windows.
City Music

City Confectionery

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 Confectionery

City Motors

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 […]
City Motors

Dental Surgery

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 […]
Dental Surgery

Odds & Sods

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 […]
Odds & Sods

H. Samuel (Manchester)

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 […]
H. Samuel (Manchester)

Familywear

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.
Familywear

Causette

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 […]
Causette

Cyber Café

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, […]
Cyber Café

Empire Milk Bar

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 […]
Empire Milk Bar

Olympia Dining Rooms

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 […]
Olympia Dining Rooms

Woo Lot

Woo Lot, 592 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, Borough of WalthamForest, London E10, 2016 • Great name, great (literally) sign.
Woo Lot

Greggs (Leyton)

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! […]
Greggs (Leyton)

Floorcraft

Floorcraft, 20a Oxford Street, Whitstable, Kent, 2002 • DIY sign-painting meets mini-grandeur. Now houses Oxford Street Books.
Floorcraft

Amazon Hair

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 […]
Amazon Hair

Famished Cafe

Famished Cafe, 2 Kilburn Bridge, Kilburn, Borough of Brent, London NW6, 2012 • Nice name on a colourful frontage, now replaced by Roosters Piri Piri.  
Famished Cafe

Jacobean Corsetry

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 […]
Jacobean Corsetry

D’Posh

D’Posh, 103 Strand, City of Westminster, London WC2, 2011 • V posh Savoy surroundings for D’Posh clothes shop, which later became Laird Hatters.
D’Posh

G. Smith & Sons

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 […]
G. Smith & Sons

Tony’s Hemp Corner

Tonys Hemp Corner, 10 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2010 • Creepy flower-child fascia for controversial cannabis cafe whose proprietor Tony Taylor supplied ‘medicinal’ marijuana to nearly 300 […]
Tony’s Hemp Corner

Johns the Baker

Johns the Baker, 5 Badcox, Frome, Somerset, 2008 • Ghost sign from the days when ‘golden brown’ didn’t mean heroin. The Hovis sign had gone by 2011, when it was still […]
Johns the Baker

The Love Shack

The Love Shack, corner of Old Hall Street and Goodson Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, 2010 • A touch of gaudy grandeur amidst modernist monoliths in much-maligned Stoke, currently bidding to be the […]
The Love Shack

Tan’s Cafe

Tan’s Cafe, 3 Amersham Vale, New Cross, Borough of Lewisham, London SE14, 2010 • Gaudy mini-kingdom of breakfast opposite New Cross Station. Possibly the only greasy spoon with a loyalty […]
Tan’s Cafe

Kam Garden

Kam Garden, 14 Bouverie Road West, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Sweet green Chinese-style rooflet which stayed even after it went Indian as Copper and Spices.
Kam Garden

Pizza King

Pizza King, 115 Sandgate Road, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Incongruous in its grand portal despite the regal name. Now called Master Kebab.
Pizza King

Jan & Charlie’s

Jan & Charlie’s, 59 Old High Street, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • End of days for an old-school fishmonger. Ironically it looks more old-fashioned these days, as Frizbee clothing; the entire frontage […]
Jan & Charlie’s

Kat-Man-Do

Kat-Man-Do, 2 South Street, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Weirdly-named ex-pub/club which has since been knocked down and replaced with flats.
Kat-Man-Do

Catford Mews

Catford Mews, Winslade Way, off Rushey Green, Catford, Borough of Lewisham, London SE6, 2010 • Feline punning within the Catford Centre, featured yesterday. Catford Mews is an indoor market, as described in the […]
Catford Mews

Catford Centre

Catford Centre, Rushey Green, Catford, Borough of Lewisham, London SE6, 2010 • Famous creepy cat, fronting brutalist mall the Catford Centre, developed by Owen Luder in 1974. Apparently it’s due for […]
Catford Centre

Jemerton Ltd

Jemerton Ltd, 68 Paul Street, Borough of Hackney, London EC2, 2008 • Picturesque decay plus cat graffiti, now turned into – what else – posh offices. A company search says Jemerton was […]
Jemerton Ltd

H. Tidiman

H. Tidiman, 57 Broadway Market, Borough of Hackney, London E8, 2006 • Part of Ben ‘Eine‘ Flynn’s original 2005-6 shop shutter graffiti alphabet, in this case reading B for Butcher. You […]
H. Tidiman

Subway (Angel)

Subway, 69 Chapel Market, Islington, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2016 • Boring fast food chain, lovely old door window. Actually I like the Subway logo, it’s an exuberant piece […]
Subway (Angel)

Sew Fantastic!, Tintype

Sew Fantastic!, Tintype, 107 Essex Road, Islington, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2012 and 2016 • Grubby but grand Sew Fantastic (top pic) is now scrubbed clean as Tintype art gallery (second pic). The punters […]
Sew Fantastic!, Tintype

S. Cohen

S. Cohen, 2 White Conduit Street, Islington, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2016 • No name for the second-hand shop, but the original costumier’s facade is still proudly showing.
S. Cohen

W. Martyn

W. Martyn, 135 Muswell Hill Broadway, Muswell Hill, Borough of Haringey, London N10, 2016 • Established in 1897 and still in the Martyn family, this is known as the Fortnum […]
W. Martyn

Broadway Hair Stylist

Broadway Hair Stylist, 344 Muswell Hill Broadway, Muswell Hill, Borough of Haringey, London N10, 2016 • A proper early 1960s hair stylist’s fascia, complete with modernist mosaic – very rare these days. […]
Broadway Hair Stylist