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.
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 […]
The Express Cleaning & Repairing Co., 10 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2011 • Ancient emporium briefly revealed after removal of Tony’s Hemp Corner sign (see […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
Pizza King, 115 Sandgate Road, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Incongruous in its grand portal despite the regal name. Now called Master Kebab.
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 […]
Famous Amusements Emporium (JG’s), 3-9 Tontine Street, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Classic neon ghost sign on what was once the street’s oldest boot and shoe shop – there’s a photo of that here. By […]
Kat-Man-Do, 2 South Street, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Weirdly-named ex-pub/club which has since been knocked down and replaced with flats.
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Milly’s Mini Mart, Angel City Cars, 49 Upper Street, Islington, Borough of Islington, London N1, 2016 • I featured these ridiculously over-the-top console brackets back in 2014, when the shop was crumbly but colourful and appeared to be […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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. […]
New Happy Swan, 120 Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill, Borough of Haringey, London N10, 2016 • Old happy paint job in Muswell Hill’s distinctive St James’s Parade, by Edwardian developer James […]
Hotel Splendide, 25 Mornington Crescent, Borough of Camden, London NW1, 2003 • You couldn’t make this up. But in fact it was made up, because according to the Shady Old Lady […]
New and S/Hand Tyres, 115 Dulwich Road, Borough of Lambeth, London SE24, 2001 • Textures of yellow with beautiful old signwriting. Later moved upmarket to house “heritage inspired” clothes label […]
Sai News, 138 Church Street, City of Westminster, London NW8, 2003 • Nameless ex-newsie with painterly pink palimpsest wall and elegant stroller who looks like he’s posing for a cavalier […]
Dino’s Travel & Holidays, 11 Camden High Street, Borough of Camden, London NW1, 2003 • How times change – that bloke would be reading a phone today. Flyposting obliterates the name of this ex-Greek […]
Allworthy Bros, 13, 15 Camden High Street, Borough of Camden, London NW1, 2003 • “Money advanced on pictures, bronzes, violins &c &c” says this wonderful old pawnbroker’s sign above a Dickensian-looking yard […]
F.T.T.D, Joiners Shopfitters Builders, 20 Tanner’s Hill, Deptford. Borough of Lewisham, London SE8, 2002 • Ex-shopfitter’s enlivened by a quaint Victorian-style pointing hand sign (aka a manicule). It was for now-defunct signmakers Find […]
Chapel Furnitures, 4 Browning Street, Walworth, Borough of Southwark, London SE17, 2002 • Giant hand sign on charming chapel for the unusually-pluralised Chapel Furnitures (maybe the singular version’s web domain had […]
Best Wishes, 13 Guildhall Street, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • Ex-gift shop, now ex-charity shop, whose ghost sign has – like yesterday’s shop – a rather Edwardian feel. Note crowns on door handle […]
Nameless chinoiserie shop, 29 Guildhall Street, Folkestone, Kent, 2008 • This has a look of Edwardian chinoiserie about it, so I prefer to think it’s an ex-gown shop rather than a […]
The Duke of Cambridge, 26 Bloomfield Road, Plumstead, Borough of Greenwich, London SE18, 2004 • The pub has gone, but the sign remains. Here’s the block of flats that replaced it. It […]
Engineers Builders Merchants Ironfounders, Station Street, Brighton, West Sussex, 2004 and 2014 • Boarded up when I visited in 2004 and 2014, but with the beautiful tiled typography still intact. […]
Nameless record shop, 105 St James Street, Brighton, West Sussex, 2004 and 2014 • Rather mysterious nameless record shop which shortly after the 2014 photos were taken became Fairydust Bakery. In the […]
www uk, 280 Gray’s Inn Road, Borough of Camden, London WC1, 2002 • I like the road number on the brackets. Whatever the www was, they didn’t want you to […]
Zenith Fancy Goods (A2Z Smoking Products Ltd), 42 Goulston Street, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E1, 2014 (top), 2010 (bottom) • Grand brackets and creepy graffiti for ex-fancy goods outlet […]
Eine F, Bethnal Green Road, Borough of Tower Hamlets, London E2, 2006 • One of the original batch of shop shutter letters by Ben Eine, who later had a work […]
Nameless green Thai shop, 129 Lower Marsh, Waterloo, Borough of Lambeth, London SE1, 2013, 2010, 2016 • A miscellany of painterly disguises have graced this anonymous storage unit for the Chinese and Thai restaurants on […]
Ex Singer & Singer, Fairfax House, Fairfax Place, Dartmouth, Devon, 2013 • Now for some notable nameless shops. The integrated clock in this grand empty unit suggests it may once have […]
The Regent, 331 Regents Park Road, Finchley Central, Borough of Barnet, London N3, 2016 • Grand doorway somewhat let down by plastic canopy. Aptly, it’s flanked by a door shop. […]
Roletta Ltd, King Edward Hall, 335-337 Regents Park Road, Finchley Central, Borough of Barnet, London N3, 2016 • Rosy Art Nouveau transom lights in a rather Charles Rennie Mackintosh style, […]
Ex-shop with sunray windows, 161 Camberwell New Road, Borough of Southwark, London SE5, 2001 • Art deco transom lights are the only remnant of this shop, which was still the […]
376, 376 Forest Road, Walthamstow, Borough of Waltham Forest, London E17, 2004 • Only the net curtains remain in this traditional green shop, which I’d guess was once a cafe. […]