Last Monday, 20th March, I happened to be in the Barkingside area so after a wander around Gants Hill roundabout, like you do, I walked through Valentines Park and continued south to Ilford town centre to check out what it looks like now.
|Valentine's Park – And all at once I came upon ... floor tiles at the front of Valentine's Mansion "ADAMANTINE, CLINKER REGD" – note the letter N is reversed every time|
|Cranbrook Road 1920s and 30s statement architecture. I haven't the time right now to find out the original owners of these sites, though the style of the third building is really familiar.|
|Lloyds Bank, Midland(?) clock, Dunn&Co window|
Whoo hoo! It's still in business – 127 years and still going. Though the inside resembles a mad closing down sale at the moment (it isn't; I asked). Some of the original ArtDeco steps and metal bannisters are still in place at the main entrance. I had hoped that the wide curving stairs at the centre were still intact as well. But the internal parts of the store appear to have been totally renovated and an escalator now sits where the old stairs used to be. These were the stairs on which my mum saw a teddy bear and asked for him to be taken out of the display for my 2nd birthday present. I still have him; he's a Merrythought with bells in his ears and a cute, quirky expression.
Further along the High Street I found that Harrison Gibson's old furniture and furnishings store is surrounded by scaffolding with demolition signs on it.
Signage for the store is still visible along with 'Penthouse' a nightclub that used to be at the top. In the 1980s my friends and I twice went to 'The Room At The Top' an earlier disco up there. It wasn't our kind of place really. The biggest thrill was getting the lift up to the top.
My father served his upholstery apprentice at HGs and then worked there for a time before starting up a business of his own in nearby Goodmayes in the early 70s. I think I recall my mum worked in the admin department at HGs for a while. And when I bought my first property, it was from HGs I bought my first carpet. I had forgotten all of this until now.
Just west of the Town Hall is a lovely Art Deco building which was the original Woolworth's shop with faience tiles curved verticals. Strangely, it's now occupied by the Burton Group, yet Burton's original building at the far end of the High Street houses a gaming centre at ground level, and Woolworth's last site in Ilford was where Wilko is now, opposite the station. How confusing!
|Burtons building, Woolworths building, Wilko|
Speedy update: I recall the old covered market arcade was under threat of was demolition in the 1980s – there is now a tall glass building on the site. Most of the High Street is indeed pedestrianised with a small modern precinct added (I didn't enter; not my kind of space, man). And, I very much doubt even Ilford residents are aware that Chapel Road at the centre of the one-way system is so called because it circles the only medieval building in Redbridge; the old hospital chapel.