Author Archives: buildingourpast

‘The Greatest Grocers in the World’: International Tea Company’s Stores

‘International Stores’ was a common sight on English high streets from 1878, when the first shop opened in Brentford, until 1988, when all remaining outlets were rebranded ‘Gateway’. To give the company its full name, ‘International Tea Company’s Stores’ was … Continue reading

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Spotting Historic Shopfronts: Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury has an idyllic town centre, with a good range of interesting independent shops dotted amongst the usual national multiples. Traffic does not unduly bother the dedicated shopper, or the historic shop spotter. This pleasant historic environment should ensure the … Continue reading

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Spotting Historic Shopfronts: Hitchin

Initial impressions suggest that Hitchin in Hertfordshire is rich in historic shopfronts. Closer inspection, however, reveals much renewal at street level, whilst more authentic evidence of Hitchin’s commercial past survives above its shops (for example, look up to spot Freeman … Continue reading

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Spotting Historic Shopfronts: Saffron Walden

Not surprisingly, the Essex market town of Saffron Walden is rich in historic shopfronts. Here is a motley selection to enjoy! No. 1 Myddleton Place An unrestored example of a late medieval shop can be seen on the corner of … Continue reading

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The Poland Street Garage

A much-altered and rather unprepossessing NCP car park at 49-53 Poland Street, just behind Oxford Street in central London, opened in March 1925 as the country’s very first staggered-floor parking garage. The invention of the staggered-floor (or split-level) car park … Continue reading

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The Story of Frederick Sage & Co.

Frederick Sage & Co. was one of Britain’s top shopfitters. The company manufactured fashionable shopfronts, fixtures and fittings from high-quality materials such as hardwood, bronze and curved glass. In addition, Sage designed and made airtight showcases for exhibitions and museums, … Continue reading

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Spotting Historic Shopfronts: Great Yarmouth

Baird’s / Dunn’s, 10a-11 Regent Street The Irishman James Baird (1839-1917) set up as a boot and shoe dealer in Great Yarmouth in 1862. He specialised in footwear with waterproof soles made of ‘gutta percha’ (gum harvested from tropical trees), … Continue reading

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