Spotting Historic Shopfronts: Baldock

Baldock 18 Aug 2018 (6) - Copy

Baldock High Street

A plum spot on the Great North Road meant that the small market town of Baldock in Hertfordshire became an ideal staging post for people journeying north from London. From the 17th century onwards it was chock-a-block with coaching inns, stables, maltings and breweries. Amongst the pubs (which are still plentiful) some interesting historic shops can be spotted.

Tailor’s Shop, 7 High Street 

Baldock 18 Aug 2018 (9)

No. 7 High Street

John Phillips (1835-1910) had opened a tailor’s shop on Baldock High Street by 1866, when he was listed in the Post Office Directory. This beautiful late Victorian shopfront – surely the finest in the town – may have been installed when his son, also named John Phillips (1864-1929), entered partnership with his father. Its outline appears on the 1898 OS map.

Baldock 18 Aug 2018 (112)

No. 7 High Street

Phillips’ shopfront projects (or encroaches) into the street.  The windows hold expensive sheets of plate-glass with curved corners framed by slender, decorative colonnettes. Lettering on the glass door identifies the shop as: ‘Tailors and Outfitters’. Although the family lived at the property, one of the upstairs rooms was set aside as a tailoring workshop.

Ron photos 18 Aug 2018 (12) - Copy

No. 7 High Street

In 1930 the shop was sold to a Mr Anderson of Baldock for £1,570. Now it is a branch of Day’s, a local bakery chain founded in the nearby village of Ashwell in the 18th century.

Two Stationers’ Shops, 18-20 Whitehorse Street

Baldock 18 Aug 2018 (92) - Copy

18-20 Whitehorse Street

This pair of houses on Whitehorse Street was gentrified by the addition of a neat brick façade in the mid-Victorian period. In the 1870s No. 20 belonged to a retired solicitor, Charles S. Cautherley (d.1877). After Cautherley came James Brown (1844-1928) and his family.

Brown was a man of parts. As well as being the local Postmaster, he was a solicitor’s clerk, a local councillor and a stationer. His shop served as Baldock’s Post Office. On 1 January 1882 Brown expanded his interests by taking over a business previously conducted on the High Street by a ‘stationer, book and music seller, printer and bookbinder’ named Samuel Thody.

When a new Post Office opened on Whitehorse Street in 1910, Brown retired as Postmaster but kept his shop going. Edwardian photographs reveal that the double property (Nos. 18-20) had just one shopfront (now No. 20B) instead of the present three. A window occupied the position of the middle shopfront (No. 20A), with a bay window and the main entrance to No. 18 on its right. Brown’s shop must have occupied the present-day No. 20B, which probably dates from the 1870s.

Baldock 18 Aug 2018 (87) - Copy.JPG

No. 20B Whitehorse Street

Brown’s unmarried daughter Bertha, a music teacher, lived on at No. 20 after her father’s death. The old shop at No. 20B became a hairdresser’s, run by a Miss E. Rose (1939), and later by Harry Derrick (1942).

baldocknov05-8 - Copy

No. 18 Whitehorse Street in 2005

Intriguingly, by 1939 a new newsagent’s and stationer’s shop – perhaps the successor to Brown’s business – had opened in No. 18. This belonged to Francis G. T. Reed (1878-1944) and his wife, Henrietta (1886-1967, neé Combley). Francis had started out as a journalist but became a newsagent – selling rather than reporting the news. But the shop was in Henrietta’s name and until recently the name ‘H. Reed’ was displayed diagonally across the glass of the door.

The exquisite glass fascia of Reed’s shop survives behind the modern signboard for ‘The Makeup Studio’. It must date from around 1930 despite its Victorian appearance.

baldocknov05-2 - Copy

No. 18 Whitehorse Street in 2005

baldocknov05-3 - Copy

No. 18 Whitehorse Street in 2005

Its medieval style – often cultivated by newsagents and booksellers – was echoed in the griffin-like beasts on Henrietta’s glass door, now sadly lost.

Grocer’s Shop, 26 Church Street

Baldock 18 Aug 2018 (63) - Copy

No. 26 Church Street

Today Church Street (originally Norton Street) is a quiet residential street, congested with parked cars. In the 19th century many of its small houses contained thriving family businesses.

Bearing testament to this is the lovely shopfront of No. 26, now incorporated into a house. Neighbouring businesses included a butcher, a greengrocer and ‘The Eight Bells’ public house.

From the size and style of its arched windows, this shopfront may date from the 1850s or, perhaps, 1860s.

Documents reveal that it belonged to a series of grocers: James Scott (1871); James’s widow, Eliza Scott (1881); George Sherwood (1891) and George Cox (1901; 1911). In 1939 it was known as Harry’s Stores. Today it appears to light somebody’s front room!

Baldock 18 Aug 2018 (52) - Copy

No. 26 Church Street

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Fashion and Clothing, Provisions Shops, Spotter's Guides, Streetscape. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s