26 March 2013

Holloway Road then and now (2)


Continuing from my recent post about Pugh Bros, this entry looks at the changes to the buildings to the left of it in the Victorian parade that links two pubs; The Bailey and The Wig & Gown.
In 2008 I started taking photos along the Holloway Road – the architectural details that no one seems to notice or appreciate; the kind of things that get overlooked or ripped out in the name of 'progress'. 
The image below, top left was taken at that time and shows most of the old windows with their original multi-panes contrasted with the modern cheaper, kind. But, returning to this image today, I now cannot work out which street numbers those windows belonged to. Five years and so much has changed.    

As you can see by the google streetview, top right (which also shows that almost all of the bricks in this terrace have now been coated in render and/or painted over) most of the windows have been replaced with modern versions. 
Whilst I can understand the need for better insulation and double glazing, especially when living on a busy main road, I think it's a crime to put in replacements that quite evidently are not suitable or sympathetic, especially as there are very good wood or UPVC equivalents available these days. I know, because I had my own victorian sashes replaced; they weren't expensive and they look great. 
The three images on the bottom row, above, further highlight what I mean here – the new windows are mostly just plain glass. A hint to the correct style has been made in some cases by introducing fake divisions, but scant thought has gone into this as they have too many sections (try comparing the old with the new). And notice how a lot of the pediments and architraves have been removed. It all makes for a very dull and uninteresting façade.
The pics above, from the mid-1970s, show how the original Victorian sashes were still in place (though probably draughty!). Note the lovely old signage on the three shops: No.87's hand-painted lettering (with ‘groceries’ squashed in at the end), Shing Lee’s then modern sign (the nasty shape of things to come) with an earlier hand-painted advertisement on the wall above which reads (something like): 'Builder, decorator (xxxx?) and plumbing in all branches', and Grossman’s music and radio shop with its deep windows and lovely old signs for HMV, Decca and Ever Ready.
On the subject of bad window replacements, further along the Holloway Road, on the rounded corner above no 201, there are some that are so bad they actually bring a smile to my face

21 March 2013

Lies, lies, damned lies

For those of you who like a guided walking tour with a twist, I'd recommend Liars' Tours.
Actual facts and are mixed up with total fabrications and it's up to the crowd to work out which ones to believe* – with so many barely conceivable stories about London it's often really hard to decide – truth is often stranger than fiction.
I am booked up for the Vauxhall tour, so perhaps I will see you there.
There are lies to be found all over London, as shown below, so keep your wits about you.
 * 'believe' contains a lie too. Is that ironic?

13 March 2013

Wholesale electrical components, fluorescent lamps and switchgear

In June 2008 a friend alerted me to the unveiling of some lovely old hand-painted shop signs on 136 Grays Inn Road. The shop was being renovated and the plain wooden fascias that had been in place for decades had been removed to reveal some lovely lettering showing that in an earlier life the shop had been home to an electrical components retailer (see below, top left and top middle).
Later that same year I took some more photos when all the signs were more visible. Crackled paint, drop shadows. Lovely.
We hoped that these old signs would continue to be visible in the future but they were covered up again. I think they were initially covered with more boards. I think the site became a cafe. (Peter, please correct me here if I am wrong please!)
Two months ago I was in Grays Inn Road again. I stopped in my tracks when I saw what it looks like now – the shop is up for sale/rent, having spent a while as a hairdressers. White gloss has been applied straight over the top of the lovely old lettering and, at certain angles, the words can be seen ghosting through the paint. The bottom right image shows the 'components/switchgear' panel.
Is this progress?
I am sad. Very sad. :-(

10 March 2013

Now, this is street art

On a street off Essex Road, Islington, I noticed that a cut down tree has been subtlely transformed into a nature-meets-geometrical-form thingummybob. It's signed TWRJ.I just did a bit of googling and found this video on YouTube about its creation.
Nice. More please.

7 March 2013

Holloway then and now

This is the first of a series that I will be posting about Holloway Road, my local high street.
In the Edwardian period, the days of Mr Pooter, the road was lined with beautiful shops packed and covered with items for sale. Many of these were ironmongers' shops (where Mr Pooter may have bought the red enamel for his washstand and bath) but they also sold all kinds of everything, as these two pictures of Pugh Bros at No. 95-97 clearly show. I am not sure which of the two old pictures is older, there may only be a year between them but, even so, the signs indicate that you could buy all sorts of everything at Pugh's – it was like a mini B&Q – gas fittings, lanterns, ladders, lamps, tyres, wheels and more. You could even get your bicycle repaired there.
Below you can see the huge change today – The Wig and Gown pub now occupies the same space.