Shopfronts – some recent sightings


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).


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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.


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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.




About Leigh Sparks

I am Professor of Retail Studies at the Institute for Retail Studies, University of Stirling, where I research and teach aspects of retailing and retail supply chains, alongside various colleagues. I am Chair of Scotland's Towns Partnership. I am also a Deputy Principal of the University, with responsibility for Education and Students and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
This entry was posted in Architecture, Buildings, Corporate branding, Corporate History, Design, Heritage, High Streets, Historic Shops, History, Places, Public Realm, Retail History, Shopfronts, Signage, Small Towns, Spaces, Streetscapes, Town Centres, Towns, Uncategorized, Urban History and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Shopfronts – some recent sightings

  1. Pingback: Towns: Time for some good news | Stirlingretail

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