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East End Shopfronts

March 22, 2019
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

13 Responses leave one →
  1. Jill Wilson permalink
    March 22, 2019

    Definitely worth a closer peer – thank you!

    The first impression is how incredibly crowded the shop displays were with so much merchandise on display (slightly worrying in the case of comestibles such as chickens and bread!) and also how proud most of the shopkeepers look (quite rightly!).
    Interesting to see the prevalence of basket and tin ware in the Ironmongers where today it would mainly be plastic, although the rolls of chicken wire look exactly the same (one wonders when was it invented?)
    And interesting to see the mention of green trading stamps – a forerunner of green shield stamps perhaps?
    Other thoughts – what is nut lard and nut margarine?? would today’s vegans approve?
    And what is the back story behind the sign in Mrs Rickard’s umbrella shop? is she looking grumpy because someone has opened a rival umbrella shop further down the road??

  2. March 22, 2019

    I am off to Vanhears for a top quality coffee, then to do my shopping. I’ll take some delicious bread but avoid the nut lard. No wonder people became nostalgic for these streets after the last war. So much to see, so much going on.

  3. March 22, 2019

    Wonderful photos that reveal the golden age of shops. Sadly shopping has died a death. Local councils have contributed to its demise by their greed and lack of care for the high street. What wou give for a shop that repairs walking sticks now?

  4. March 22, 2019


  5. Sue permalink
    March 22, 2019


  6. Jennifer Newbold permalink
    March 22, 2019

    Fascinating. Maybe it’s just that I am an American and we call it something else… but what is nut lard? Or nut margarine? Initially I thought it might be peanut butter but “lard” and “margarine” imply different consistencies.

    Also, thank you for deciphering the sign at Garwood grocers. I thought medical advice and bananas were an incongruous pairing!

  7. Anne Scott permalink
    March 22, 2019

    I watched the movie “This Happy Breed” (from 1944) yesterday. The shopping is delivered to the kitchen and the milk comes in a tin container. The container stuck in my mind as I was thinking will we ever be able to live without plastic containers and plastic wrap again? Then I see the first photo of S. Jones dairy and all the tins, I assume, of milk. I’d love to go shopping at Palfreyman’s – thank you for providing the enlargements

  8. Richard Pascoe permalink
    March 22, 2019

    Thank you Phil Mernick and Gentle Author for these wonderful photographs, so rare to see long forgotten shop fronts , especially the ‘ Huxtables Stores ‘ with the children in the upstairs windows and doorway, can’t work out what the lower sign reads as ? and always on the lookout for reflections in the windows !

  9. March 22, 2019

    From the era when shopping was still a social activity. Small businesses that employed millions, and specialised in things, and shopkeepers who knew their clients. Compare that to today, where for the most part we have to suffer the bland sameness of big box stores and a vapid millenial who know nothing about what they are there to sell.

  10. stephanie Janet pemberton permalink
    March 22, 2019

    The faces are are interesting as the well stocked shops.

  11. Marcia Howard permalink
    March 22, 2019

    I know at lot of family photos were produced as postcards, so it’s good to know the shops were all captured on film too. A perfect way to promote your products, and no doubt one of the earliest forms of Marketing.

  12. Jo Ross permalink
    March 22, 2019

    Just wonderful. Although I do worry about Palfreyman the printers, it all looks slightly chaotic as if the window display is about to collapse

  13. Denece Sippo permalink
    July 6, 2019

    I just tripped over your blog whilst doing some family history research. My grandparents had a shop at 14 Brick Lane. I have a photo of my Dad and his mother (Annie Powell) taken in the doorway about 1918. The family migrated to Australia around 1927. Happy to forward a copy of the photo to you if you would like it.

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