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Philip Mernick’s East End Shopfronts

May 24, 2016
by the gentle author

These splendid shopfronts from the beginning of the last century are published courtesy of Philip Mernick who has been collecting postcards of the East End for more than thirty years. In spite of their age, the photographs are of such high quality that they capture every detail and I could not resist enlarging parts of them so you can peer closer at the displays.

S.Jones, Dairy, 187 Bethnal Green Rd

J.F. List, Baker, 418 Bethnal Green Rd

A.L.Barry, Chandlers & Seed Merchants, 246 Roman Rd

Direct Supply Stores Ltd, Butcher, Seven Sisters Rd

Vanhear’s Coffee Rooms, 564 Commercial Rd

Williams Bros, Ironmonger, 418 Caledonian Rd

Francis J. Walters, Undertakers, 811 Commercial Rd

Pearks Stores, Grocer, High St, East Ham

A. Rickards, Umbrella Manufacturer, 30 Barking Rd, East Ham

Huxtables Stores, Ironmonger, Broadway, Plaistow

E.J Palfreyman, Printer, Bookbinder & Stationer, High Rd, Leytonstone

J.Garwood, Greengrocer, Bow Rd

“The banana is the safest and most wholesome fruit there is”

You may also like to take a look at

Alan Dein’s East End Shopfronts

Emily Webber’s East End Shopfronts

Eleanor Crow’s East End Shopfronts

Jim Howett’s Spitalfields Shopfronts

11 Responses leave one →
  1. May 24, 2016

    Wonderful photos, I will study these again later when I have more time. Valerie

  2. Robert Green permalink
    May 24, 2016

    How things have changed ! ! Images like these are not just of interest on a nostalgic level they are also an invaluable reference to the way we lived in previous times, the two things I notice most of all about these shops is first the shear volume of goods that were on display in the windows and secondly the smart and professional appearance of the people working there all wearing matching overalls and clothing and even from these images you can tell they obviously had great pride in not just the quality of the goods they sold but also appearance of the shop itself and as someone who has spent my whole life in retail I can very much relate to this, even in the more recent past of the 50s and 60s I can remember what a “big event” it used to be when my father would re dress the windows in our shop in Upton Park, he would easily take two to three days to complete each window, filling every available space with something and constantly going back and forth back and forth in and out of the shop to check that each item was in exactly the right place and in perfect position and then spending hours and hours hand making all the tickets for each item out of card and using a selection of brushes and special poster paint to write the prices and comments, it was really quite artistic, sadly as is the moden trend most shops now no longer seem to even bother with window displays and I think that is a great loss, but then Im an old man so I probably have out dated views on things like this but I do lament these changes and the general “death” of the local shop as portrayed with such pride in these lovely images seen hear, what a truly lovely thing to collect.

  3. JeanM permalink
    May 24, 2016

    Wonderful photos, if only we still had shop fronts like those, I’d love to go back
    and explore the shops themselves.

  4. Pat Davies permalink
    May 24, 2016

    Brilliant Photo’s

  5. May 24, 2016

    That is a wonderful postcard collection of shopfronts!

    Those interested can see more vintage shopfronts in a Flickr group I curate, “Vintage Photographs of Shopfronts” –

  6. May 24, 2016

    Although I realised that “healthy” and vegetarian foods existed in England from the nineteenth century I had always thought that they were only available in central London such as Shearns stores. These images suggest that Allinson’s wholemeal bread (and perhaps nut lard if it IS vegetarian!) were also popular in areas with a working class population.

  7. May 24, 2016

    You’ve totally anticipated my wish that I could SEE all the details of these spectacular store fronts.
    These photos can be savored on so many levels…….Not only a glimpse into a long-past time and place, but a treatise on lettering/staging/presentation/ephemera and more. The abundance of each shop window is staggering — I can almost feel myself salivating. A fabulous post, worthy of many looks. I’ll be back this afternoon, with a cocktail in hand.

  8. pauline taylor permalink
    May 24, 2016

    I agree that these photos will bear looking at over and over again, there is such a wealth of detail in each one. The pride that shopkeeper’s took in their window displays is very evident and the pride that they and their families and staff took in their appearance too, what a contrast to the situation today!! I have a similar postcard photo of my great grandfather’s shop in Upper Clapton Road, he was a florist and garden contractor, and not only is the window display a sight to behold, but I am told that he also has a fountain surrounded by ferns inside the shop. A lady has also sent me delightful photographs of her relative, who worked in the shop and market garden, and these show an immaculately turned out gentleman with a carnation in his buttonhole which, she tells me, he was never without!

  9. Malcolm permalink
    May 24, 2016

    Pictures like these are interesting on several levels. Historical, social and photographic to start with. So much information.

  10. May 26, 2016

    Congratulations to Philip Mernick for saving these amazing postcards.

  11. Linda Granfield permalink
    May 27, 2016

    Fantastic images.

    Question: why are the chickens marked “sold” yet are still on display in the window?
    Why didn’t the customers take the ‘sold’ chickens with them when they left the store?


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