I’m an architectural historian who worked for 30 years in the heritage sector with the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, English Heritage and Historic England. Not all at once, I hasten to add. One after the other.

Over the years I’ve published on a wide range of building-related subjects: historic hospitals, workhouses, shops, stores, factories, garages, car parks, country houses, C17th masons and medieval sculpture.

Current projects (in 2019-20) include a book — still in the early stages — about the history and heritage of chain store architecture. A ‘spotter’s guide’ to historic shopfronts is also in gestation. In addition, I’m preoccupied with studies of Northamptonshire stonemasons in the 1620s and 1630s, exploring the potential of masons’ marks as historical evidence.

Most of the recent posts published here at buildingourpast.com relate to my current research on the architecture, building processes and shop-fitting of multiple retailers. They draw attention to interesting historic shops which can be enjoyed on travels around England. Please leave comments and tell me about your own historic shop discoveries!



5 Responses to About

  1. Wondered if you may like a photo, I assume was taken in London, but I do not know for sure. My dad is in the photo in front of a fountain with a building in the rear that reads “Dolcis Shoes” carved in the building.


  2. Anna Williams says:

    Dear Kathryn,
    I am currently looking for an image of Swansea Woolworths to use within a 5STAR (Channel 5) documentary.
    I have found a photo of Swansea Woolworths dated 1959 which features in your book Woolworths 100 Years on the High Street.
    Please may you provide me with contact details so I can get in touch directly to discuss?
    My contact details are annawilliams@koska.co.uk and telephone 01273 917 862.
    Kind regards,
    Anna Williams


  3. Susan Woodall says:

    Hello Kathryn,
    This is such a great blog and I’m only sorry not to have found it before now! Apologies for using this space to contact you, but I wanted to request permission to use an image from your wonderful workhouse book in my PhD and wasn’t sure how else to reach you. If you could email me at swoodall24@gmail.com, I can identify the image and provide further information on my study.
    Many thanks,

    Susan Woodall


  4. Graham says:

    My father worked in the retail shoe trade for most of his working life, as errand boy, sales assistant, shop manager, and district inspector.
    Most of this time was spent with Frisby’s, a small amount of time in the early years with Lennards, and a smaller amount time with other companies – bridging from 1930’s to 1970’s.
    We have photo’s of all Frisby’s shop fronts in the South West district, as well as my father’s detailed accounts of job responsibilities including stock taking long before calculators, let alone computers.
    Other photos include Frisby celebrations of family events with shop managers and wives with some HQ personnel, and there is a printed list of addresses for shops.
    I am investigating our options as to what we can do with this personal archive, so it won’t be lost, and wonder whether any of this might be of interest to you. Before sharing information I would have to get family agreement, but your advice ‘in principle’ would be a great help to us.


  5. Richard Williams says:

    I’m looking for a historian who has got details about the staff at Star Supply Stores in Bethesda and Llandudno, where my grandfather worked. Will I find one? I’m always hopeful!


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