About

The stories posted on this blog consider various aspects of the historic built environment in British towns and cities. As an architectural historian, I am drawn to everyday buildings, not just those considered worthy of listing.

The focus of my research, at present, is historic shops. For my previous publications in this field, have a look under the Books tab.

I am currently writing a history of British  chain stores between c.1840 and c.1970, provisionally titled ‘Chain Stores in the Golden Age of the British High Street’. A ‘spotter’s guide’ to historic shopfronts is also in gestation.

So, for the time being, most of the posts on buildingourpast.com will be about multiple retailers and historic shopfronts.

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.

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  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

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  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

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  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.

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  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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