22 September 2016

Shopicide – memories of an old fishmonger's shop

What is the word for destroying and 'modernising' something and replacing all that was historical, handmade and interesting with nothing of any style or class?
In January 2009 I took some pics of the old fish & chip restaurant and fishmongers at the northern end of East Acton Lane near Savoy Circus.

As you can see, the shop frontage was lovely with a hand-painted sign by Brilliant Signs Ltd of W12 (Permenart) and the little panels in the windows had decorative glass panels and ventilation inserts. Along the bottom there were lovely hand-fired green tiles with five fish motifs at regular intervals. For some reason I only took photos of three of them.

The shop was clearly closed for business. Peering in through the window I could see the lovely old seating was still intact. However some kind of renovation was underway there were paint pots on the counter which was covered in a cloth.

I haven't visited the area since and so last weekend took a short detour to go and check out what has become of the place.
But, oh dear, what a disaster – everything shown above has gone. And I mean everything. I didn't get out of the car to take photos because it was just too much.
The google streetview screengrabs, below, show that absolutely nothing is left of the old shop.

How is this allowed to happen? I have tried googling for other images of the old shop but the only pics I can find are my own – there must be some in an archive somewhere...?

Sad face.

15 September 2016

The Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings company, Noel Park, Wood Green

The Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company was a not-for-profit company that built social housing in areas of London with good rail links to the city, keen to promote good health and well-being in the poorer classes.
Ambling along Wood Green High Street yesterday I spotted one of their monograms above a branch of Subway on the east side of Wood Green High Road just north of the modern shopping mall. The building continues south housing thirteen shops but unlike the terrace on Harrow Road here in Wood Green most of the logos on the dividing columns at street level are now either missing, damaged or indiscernible.

Top left shows the unpainted terracotta relief above Subway. Top right shows another cartouche/monogram further down the terrace. I could find only three dividing columns that retain the complete ALGD monogram (the one not shown here is totally painted black).
Further down the road, on the same side, I found another two terraces bearing the same marks on either side of Dovecote Avenue which, despite its evocative name, these days leads to nowhere.

Top left shows the three monograms on the buildings either side of Dovecote Avenue
These terraces were part of the company's Noel Park estate built between 1883 and 1929.  I have not yet accessed any old maps or archives of the area but it's fair to assume that the company probably had more buildings along the Wood Green Road that may have have been demolished to make way for Wood Green Shopping City in the 1970s.
The Wikipedia info on the Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company also lists ALGD sites at Battersea, Queens Park and Streatham – info and pics welcome.

6 September 2016

Holloway Road Old and New – nos.171-185

The changing face of the Holloway Road*.
Today I am looking at the section that ends at the junction of Palmer Place and Drayton Park.

As you can see from these pics comparing the 1970s with 2013 not much has changed really.
Aha! But don't be fooled into thinking this stretch has been cared for over the years, because about five years ago this whole terrace and parade was cleaned up to remove all the graffiti and layers of unnecessary paint where shop owners had applied the "this is my have of the dividing column, so I will paint it" rule.
I get disheartened every time I see that beautiful old tiles on delineators between shops have been painted over. And on pubs too. What's the point of that? Tiles are almost self-clening and they don't need painting.
Oops, I digress... back to the pics...
Most of the shops along this stretch are now food outlets of some description; take aways, fast-food chicken, restaurants, cafes and coffee shops. So it's great to see that Bartlett's the hifi store is still trading at the same location after all this time. I have lived in Holloway almost 30 years and this is one of a only a few shops that has been a constant during this time.

See all the posts in this occasional series about Holloway Road here

Also see this old post about painted shop dividers

*This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend recently about how some roads have an extra 'the' put in front of them as in The Strand, The Aldwych, The Old Kent Road, etc.

2 September 2016

The Great Fire Of London – started 350 years ago today

On September 2nd 1666 a fire started at a bakery in Pudding Lane and spread rapidly, blazing away through the neighbouring streets and eliminating away a great swathe of the city.
The event was commemorated in the 1670s by the erection of The Monument on the site of St Margaret’s, the first church to succumb to the flames. The doric column with a golden urn of fire at the top. It's height of 62 metres echoes its distance from the source of the fire.  
Commemorative events and activities throughout the city this weekend. Find out more here.

Greeting cards featuring some of my photos above and many other London landmarks and observations can be found here.

26 August 2016

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2016

Last Monday, prior to the RA Summer Show, I spent a lovely birthday day in glorious sunshine Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park and got to see Bjarke Ingels' marvellous pavilion outside the Serpentine Gallery.

This one is particularly good I think. It's a beautiful, yet simple, structure and has a function – there is a cafe within it.
A short stroll away there are some other smaller pavilions worth checking out:

Until 9th October.
More info here.

23 August 2016

M F Tarling/C&S Electrical, 48 Blackstock Road – Old shop sign reveal

These photos taken earlier this month (5th August) show the burnt old shop header panels for "M F Tarling" and, underneath on the windows, the gold lettering for C&S, Electrical Fittings & Installations.
if I was a proper sleuth I would have found out what Tarlings sold. But I am lazy and just wanted to share the observation.
I very much doubt this is still there – these things get covered or painted over fairly quickly.

18 August 2016

Royal Academy Summer Show 2016

On Monday I went with a friend to this year's Summer Show at The Royal Academy. It's an annual tradition; every year we I try hard to choose our favourite pieces in each room, money and space no object. This year we found it harder than ever to fill our large imaginary houses.
Every year I hope the selectors, judges, curators or whatever they are called might have removed themselves from the kindergarten our out of the arses of the RA artists, but no. This year seemed to be full of more poor stuff than ever before.
It's arranged differently. That seemed to good on first impression but our optimism subsided. Rooms that used to be jam-packed floor to ceiling have gone, one room is totally filled with not for sale works by the same artist like some kind of showcase for them, there are hangings for artworks high above the doors when I doubt they are even noticed, and as mentioned lots of super-expensive pieces with silly price tags on them.
Rows of dots on some artworks begged the question, was this a named artist like Tracey Emin or something so cheap (i.e. under £400) that people who go there intent on buying something have scant choice?
Sigh. There's always next year...
Here's my account from 2013
Below are some of the things I did like including, at the centre, one of the metal grilles on the floor:

The orangutan's face sort of says it all – furry muff, egg on his face, screw it!
Hurry hurry hurry... see for yourself – ends next weekend!!! More info here.

One of the best things there is in the courtyard off Piccadilly and is free to see – Ron Arad's "Spyre' – a marvellous and mesmerising tall metal kinetic sculpture.

9 August 2016

Holloway Road; Then and Now – No's 108 and 140

Please compare the black and white photos on the top with the colour ones on the bottom taken in 2013.

Such a change, yet in my opinion, not for the better; in a visual and architectural sense we clearly have not improved on what was there before.
When asked about time travelling, I usually reply that I would like to go back in time to the Late Victorian / Edwardian era in order to see first-hand the high streets and their shops; the pride taken in the splendid shop windows, the shapes of windows, the displays within them, the doorways with their mosaic'd floors, the hand-written or gilded signs, the merchandise, the uniforms worn by the staff. etc.
These two archive pics explain that effectively.

See all the posts in this occasional series about Holloway Road here

2 August 2016

Ideals in Industry – a book about Burton's

Delivering my cards to Oxfam bookshops is a dangerous process – shelves of delicious old antiquarian titles are always beckoning me. Keep away from the books Jane; keep away from the books!!
Last month I was in the Crouch End shop with a friend and he* found for me a wonderful little book by and about Montague Burton and Company telling us how bloody marvellous they are/were.
It's a fabulous bit of self promotion:

That's Monty on the top row next to an aerial shot of the Workshops Estate at Hudson Road Mills, Leeds, showing how big some of the factories were
Benefits of being a Burton's employee included; sing-songs while during work hours at the factory, dentists, doctors and nurses on site, morale-boosting visits by VIPs and royalty, plus social events, outings, theatre and dramatic associations, indoor sports facilities at work, a variety of external sports clubs, and much more.
The clothes were then distributed to Burton's distinctive and imposing shops. Their store at 118-132 New Oxford Street (end of Tott Ct Rd) was, in its day, the largest tailoring establishment in the world. Oh yes; this was a big company, make no mistake.
The back section of the book shows page after page of illustrations of all the Burton stores. I can see this is going to keep me quite absorbed for some time yet.... :-)

*Luckily I found him Pevsner's Middlesex Guide in the same shop. 

27 July 2016

J Davies, Builders' Merchant, 82 Holloway Road (Then and now series)

Oh dear I have fallen behind with these Holloway Road comparison photos; it appears the last one I posted was three years ago.

OK... I am back on the horse...
The images shown below compare No. 82 Holloway Road in the 1970s with how it looked in 2013.

As you can see, No.82 has not changed much at all over the years except that an extra floor has been added; even the the octagonal advertising space still remains.
However, the 2-storey buildings to the right are long gone, replaced with The Richmond Fellowship building.
And ooh how that Glam dogs 'logo' used to irk me. It looked like "G lam dogs". 

I will try to do some more of these... I won't leave it another three years... ;-)

24 July 2016

Somewhere Over The Rainbow...

One early evening last September I was walking across the western Golden Jubilee Bridge and it started to rain.
A short sharp heavy downfall was followed by a burst of strong sunshine which created a fabulous double rainbow against a deep grey sky and a shadow of the London Eye on the Shell building.

I was so glad I had my camera with me that day.
Greeting card available here.

13 July 2016

Whitecross Street Party this Saturday 16th July

AKA The Rise of the Non-Conformists – this is a colourful, vibrant, musical event is well worth a visit.
I will have a stall there and, in addition to a selection of my clay pipe jewellery, I will for the first time be selling my  London Central cards featuring St Pauls, Barbican, Battersea Power Station and the like, as well a selection of the North London ones (click the image of them, above right).
Here is a link to a post I did about this event in 2013.
I have only just realised as I was writing that this follows on from my last post about Old Street as Whitecross Street is on its south side almost opposite St Luke's Church, so after or pre the street party why not go check out those cart entrances and unusual signs etc...?

5 July 2016

Old Street observations

Opposite St Luke's on Old Street I noticed many of the terraces have accesses to the rear once used by carts and lorries.
That's it. Just an observation.

There are plenty of other pleasing and interesting things along the stretch between Old Street roundabout and Goswell Road:

30 June 2016

FOUND at the Foundling Museum – curated by Cornelia Parker

Here's interesting... in amongst the lovely historical artefacts and artworks at this small but evocative museum there are exhibits by sixty modern artists that respond to the theme of 'FOUND'.
Cornelia Parker (no relation) has brought together an eclectic panel of people who have all come at this idea from different angles. The exhibition runs until 4th September.
The Foundling's website will tell you more, but not too much or else there'd be no surprises.
Seeing Cordelia's image of a piece of an old leather shoe brings to mind a post I wrote two years ago when I FOUND (see what I did there) lots of bits of shoe leather on the foreshore near Blackfriars Bridge south side.
Here's a pile of other stuff I FOUND on the foreshore at Limehouse.

At the Foundling gift shop there is a selection of my jewellery made from clay pipes which perfectly fits in with the FOUND theme.
Some pics of the museum here.

27 June 2016

Halo Tower, Stratford

Wandering along Stratford High Street the other week I stopped to photograph this mosaic depicting a street seller.

A Georgian flower seller
I was then distracted by the tower block looming behind it – Halo Tower at No.50 is 133 metres tall, has 33 floors and is built in the 'iconic' style.

Views to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
But look closer at the outside of the building and see how the panels on this tower, which is less than five years old (completed 2014), are already starting to deteriorate.

The colour on the dark blue paint panels is flaking away
Genesis' blurb for the building reads "With a central 43 floor residential tower rising high above the London skyline, Stratford Halo is a truly landmark development"
Another site tells me "It's modernistic look attracts high profile businessmen and wealthy people such as YouTubers". Oh. Right.If this is the quality of the fabric of the building what hope is there for the quality of the workmanship on the interior?

Genesis signage on the building itself and Filtons estate agent window
The information on the ground floor of the building highlights the facilities that come with renting an apartment of this kind; concierge services, integrated branded appliances, dedicated onsite property manager (who doesn't appear to be managing the property very well so far), communal sky gardens, and, of course, gym facilities.
Interesting that there only appears to be rental opportunities.
These clip-together buildings concern me.

And another thought about buying new property regarding the terms of freeholds and leaseholds; how does a 125 year lease apply when many similar new builds will more than likely not last more than 20 years? Where is the security? These are transient property purchases, not homes for living a long life in. 
Call me weird, but I'll stick with bricks and mortar.