London Shopfronts is a delightful photography book capturing the charm and idiosyncrasy of London’s streets, passageways, alleys and arcades. It pays homage to the business facades that remain steadfast reminders of this modern, progressive city’s past. Here’s just a few, with extracts from the book,for you to enjoy…
Photo: London Shopfronts/Hoxton Mini Press
The Old Cinema antiques emporium, Chiswick
This former Edwardian cinema houses an array of antique, vintage, retro and industrial furniture. It began life as a single-storey, cupola-topped music and dance hall nicknamed ‘The Cave’, in reference to its skinny, dimly lit interior, before re-emerging as the Cinema Royal in 1912. During the Second World War, the building was used to store parachutes, before becoming a Victorian furniture emporium in the 1950s.
160 Chiswick High Road, W4 1PR; theoldcinema.co.uk
Hello Darling, Bar & Restaurant, Waterloo, Now closed.
The irreverent feel of the experimental space was dreamed up in 2019 by Harriet Darling and Elise Edge, set designers with a knack for transporting the imagination. Thanks to the efforts of a small band of scenic artists, carpenters and set designers, it took just three weeks for the four-storey Victorian building to be transformed from bog-standard bar to magical drinking den.
131 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UR; hellodarling.london
Ida, Italian restaurant & Deli, Queen’s Park
A one-time corner shop might not be the obvious setting for a restaurant, but this family-run venue seems completely at home in its surroundings. The Grade II-listed shop was originally two stores. ‘What’s now our kitchen was a little sweet shop, and the dining room was a greengrocer,’ says owner Simonetta Wenkert, who moved to the area in 1996. After a shortlived stint as a kebab shop, the space stood empty for some years until she and husband Avi took over, reinventing it with their unique Italian-infused style.
222a Kilburn Lane, W10 4AT; idarestaurant.co.uk
James Smith & Sons umbrella store, central London
James Smith, son of the shop’s founder, moved the business to this location in 1857, when a freshly minted New Oxford Street was considered both fashionable and cosmopolitan. The Grade II-listed building, now overseen by store manager Philip Naisbitt (pictured), has barely changed since then, and remains one of the city’s most complete original Victorian shopfronts.
53 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1BL james-smith.co.uk
Lina Stores, Italian deli, Soho
The name of this delicatessen has been whispered among gourmands for more than 75 years. Yet few realise that it’s reportedly the result of a typo. Lina (whose surname appears to have been lost in the passage of time) set up shop here in 1944 and when she commissioned the original signage, she intended it to read ‘Lina’s Store’. However, an unfortunately placed ‘S’ resulted in a subtle change of meaning.
18 Brewer Street, W1F 0SH; linastores.co.uk
Bramble & Moss, florist in a former chemist, Richmond
The full history of this ornate Victorian shopfront is, tantalisingly, just out of reach. Its mosaic doorstep is inscribed with ‘Blanchford’, and a recent restoration of its fascia led to the discovery of original, carved, once gilded lettering revealing it to have been a chemist – but that’s as much as can be gleaned of the building’s early life. The façade, with its elegantly
curved windows, was likely added to the existing building around 1850; the same time the mysterious Blanchford is thought to have set up shop.
64 Hill Rise, TW10 6UB; brambleandmoss.co.uk
London Shopfronts is published by Hoxton Mini Press, with words and images by Emma J Page and Rachael Smith. RRP £22.95. hoxtonminipress.com