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Adverts From The Stepney Borough Guide

May 10, 2014
by the gentle author

From 1900 until 1965, Spitalfields was in the London of Borough of Stepney. Although Stepney has ceased to exist as a political entity long ago, the official guides are still preserved in the Bishopsgate Institute, serving as a reminder of this lost kingdom where – in the thirties – fluffy picture frocks, crude drugs and skulgarde helmets might easily be obtained.

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You might also like to take a look at

The Trade Cards of Old London

Business in Bishopsgate, 1892

Crowden & Keeves’ Hardware

8 Responses leave one →
  1. May 10, 2014

    Great selection here, I especially like the one advertising upwards of 70 cows on the premises of the model Dairies in Black Lion Yard! Valerie

  2. joan permalink
    May 10, 2014

    Had my ears pierced at Spiegelhalters because my dad used to maintain their burglar alarm. Many visits to Dr Leahy of Commercial Road (Irish and Catholic and so highly regarded – and feared – doctor to the nuns of the parish) followed as my ears turned septic! His phrase ‘If God had meant you to have extra holes in your ears’ can still be heard in my head and is one reason why my soon to be 13 year old daughter, despite much pleading, still has unblemished ears.

  3. Greg Tingey permalink
    May 10, 2014

    “Skulgarde” were very advanced for their time – I think the messengers in Cocteau’s “Orphee” (Riding Sunbeams IIRC) wore them.
    Ah, Spiegehalter …
    Their premises is famous – see “Nairn’s London” – but the entire frontage, including the specatucular “Spiegehalter gap” is now threatened with demolition.

  4. Ros permalink
    May 10, 2014

    What a marvellous selection! Thoroughly enjoyed these. Hopping(especially on peg legs) and galloping wouldn’t be the associations used to sell alcoholic beverages nowadays I think. And why would the sewing machine top converter be advertising that it was a profitable side-line for furnishers? Guess the feather purifying works would be handily situated near the chicken slaughterers…what a hive of industry it was all round.

  5. ROBERT GREEN permalink
    May 10, 2014

    These are fantastic, so evocative of their time, I remember quiet a few of these businesses, a good few of whom were still trading until relatively recent year’s, WONDERFUL.

  6. May 10, 2014

    Oversaturated by multicoloured internet advertisements these vintage typesettings are real eye candy! (Not only to me as a Graphic Designer…)

    Love & Peace
    ACHIM

  7. frank hadley permalink
    May 10, 2014

    so nice to see the old ads. and posters , also noted they all had the old style telephone numbers. sadly many of these buisness’s were bombed during w.w. 2 i can still remember a few of these as i lived in the spitalfields area. which i might add was not as bad a place to grow up as some people seem to think. many thanks for posting these long forgotten gems.

  8. Elizabeth cornwell permalink
    May 10, 2014

    Oh,these are wonderful,& love the names that go with them!

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