Some people have been a bad influence on me: @historicshops @KA_Morrison (see Building Our Past) and @ghostsigns spring to mind. Their encyclopaedic knowledge – and delight in and willingness to share – means that I am forever on the search for shopfronts and traces of the past that might interest both myself and them. So any new town I visit I tend to spend far too much time peering into doorways, taking photographs of entrances and shopfronts or trying to decipher vague lettering high up a wall. But, however much I try, I can not match up to the experts.
Over the summer I’ve meandered around a bit of Yorkshire, some of Shropshire and Herefordshire and then the smaller places of West Wales. A few shops stood out for me, so I thought I’d share them here.
Genuinely I do find them interesting for a number of reasons. They say something about a place, not only then but also now. What was it like? How many survive and in what state of dereliction or re-use? Are they all very similar and so on? But they also make me think about the perseverance and quality these stores espoused. They were statements of ambition; something we can not say about any modern shop in my view. Which means we’ve lost something quite precious.
So what did I see?
I’ve dealt with the elephants of Halifax in another post (and have tweeted about the blue elephants of Swansea), but I also did like the jewellers shown below.
In Hereford there were a number of shops that caught my untrained eye. The Philip Morris store with slightly angled windows was interesting. But the main one was the ex-butcher with some lovely tiles still in place (shown at the head of this post).
West Wales saw a range of shops in Lampeter/Llanbedr, Cardigan/Aberteifi and Llandeilo. Some unusual triangular windows in Lampeter, a few odd signs and floor tiles in some shops and some lettering give a glimpse of the past – the same was true in Cardigan, with both places showing traces of Melia’s. In Llandeilo some nice re-use was underway as well as a range of tiling and design.
A final word though for a couple of oddities. I loved the beehive on what I thought would have been the Llandeilo Bank, but I have now been told (thanks to Kevin Thomas for this) was the Lloyds Bank. And in a nod to the complete transience of today’s modern retailing the lower photo below is from the dead supermarket (ex Co-op then Budgens – closed in Spring 2017) on Cardigan’s riverfront. They don’t make them like they used to.