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Crowden & Keeves’ Hardware

January 21, 2021
by the gentle author

Richard Ince proprietor of James Ince & Sons, Britain’s oldest umbrella manufacturers, showed me this catalogue published by Crowden & Keeves in 1930 which had been knocking around his factory for as long as he could remember. Operating from premises in Calvert Avenue and Boundary St, they were one of the last great hardware suppliers in the East End, yet the quality of their products was such that their letterboxes and door knockers may still be recognised in use around the neighbourhood today.





The umbrellas were supplied to Crowden & Keeves by James Ince & Sons

You may like to read about these favourite hardware shops

At General Woodwork Supplies

At M&G Ironmongery & Hardware

At KTS, The Corner

21 Responses leave one →
  1. January 21, 2021

    I want the “door porter”!

  2. January 21, 2021

    What a great collection fron jelly moulds to door knockers. I expect to see the Mr Punch door stop turn up on The Antiques Road Trip sometime soon.

  3. Annie Green permalink
    January 21, 2021

    All my needs met.

  4. January 21, 2021

    Completely absorbing – and I spotted my grandmother’s bread-board!

  5. Amanda Bush permalink
    January 21, 2021

    I do like the Mr Punch door porter, but what is a door porter, actually?
    It’s very interesting to see which articles are obsolete and which are in use today.

  6. Esther permalink
    January 21, 2021

    Always fascinating to see which tools were still in use then and now and how much things have changed(we don’t make our own glue anymore). Pictures will be handy for me to use as an example for the hardware in my miniature roomboxes. A hardware-store had lots of usefull stuff in it; and nothing made of plastic!
    I recently got an old green enamel milkbucket from my family which has a proud place in my kitchen now.

  7. January 21, 2021

    Some of these items seem so familiar – so nostalgic, especially the old tin bath (in front of the fire!)

    I still have some of these tools (pliers, etc) and still use them, some no doubt originally belonged to my father.

  8. January 21, 2021

    My mum had a Volovo dolly tub, it is still around in my garden with a huge hosta in it – the bottom has a hole in it. I love the ‘Dog and Ferret Sundries’ – that seems like a truly bygone age, more out of Dickens than the 20th century. Thank you once again for your enlightening and entertaining posts which I look forward to every day!

  9. Rogmi permalink
    January 21, 2021

    Items that last, unlike today’s mostly cheap, throwaway rubbish

    @Amanda Bush
    I assume that the Door Porter is the equivalent of a door stop

  10. January 21, 2021

    SO much to love here. After I looked through this selection several times, I “transported” myself to the hardware emporiums of yore. I walked narrow aisles, with creaking wooden floors beneath my feet. I looked up-up-up, to the tops of towering shelves where seldom-ordered things were kept. I saw the double-wide brass cash register, and leather bound order books, and a scattering of receipts, reminders, and a wall calendar. Intricate wooden drawer systems, labelled and bisected; according to contents. The aromas……..the distinctive smell of new brooms and whisk brushes. The oily-ness of metal tools. Rolls of kraft paper, for wrapping and rugged red rosin paper for covering floors.
    “Herewith” are the endless thoughts and imaginings that your post provoked today.
    Time travel at its best, GA.

  11. Mark permalink
    January 21, 2021

    Can just imagine grandma and grandad sunbathing on the beach at Pakefield in the 1930’s and one of those flipping great big heavy old umbrella,torn out of the pebbley sand by a sudden gust of wind whipping off the North Sea, heading towards them, head first at a tremendous lick! Of course it misses them and I’m here to tell the tale.
    Fantastic brochure, so many choices, capitalism for the masses, between the wars. Wonderful stuff.

  12. paul loften permalink
    January 21, 2021

    Cor blimey. Now you are talking quality! Brass Knobs and knockers. Tools and buckets. You don’t see this stuff anywhere now. Although for those of us connoisseurs of quality brass screws and good old solid fittings and fixtures there is one last bolthole in East London that I sometimes visit and that is Wakefields in Lea Bridge Road where you can browse around and the guys there will set you up nicely with the right screw for the job. They also stock good brass knobs and knockers and letterboxes none of that cheap brass plated rubbish!
    Thank you, James Ince and the GA for giving us a taste for true quality

  13. Cherub permalink
    January 21, 2021

    I would love to be the proud owner of one of those door knockers. Solid and reliable unlike some of the flimsy things you see in modern day DIY shops.
    For 20 years until 2004 I lived out at Upminster in Essex and there used to be an old fashioned hardware and DIY shop called Jarvo’s in one of the side streets off Station Lane. It was a total jumble and some of the ancient stuff they stocked like door handles looked like they were from the 50s and 60s. We used to love going in there because despite all the jumble, when you asked for something they knew EXACTLY where to find it! ?

  14. January 21, 2021

    It is surprising how many of these products could have been designed fifty years before this catalogue was printed. Some are very Victorian.
    Thank you for reprinting this!

  15. Linda Granfield permalink
    January 21, 2021

    Given all the changes in our lives, thanks to COVID, I would like to have a pair of those small “Ritzma” clippers–‘specially made for ladies’ neck clipping.’ My cut-my-own do’s might look better.

    And the page on sieves helped me identify one I ‘inherited’ from the side of the road–it’s a large sand sieve!

    Many thanks for this; a lovely trip into my grandparents’ lives.

  16. January 21, 2021

    I still absolutely love hardware stores, and thankfully a few excellent ones still exist around the country. I can immediately think of one in Lewes E.Sussex, one in Kendal Cumbria, one in Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales, and one in Norwich Norfolk. I’ve spent big money in everyone of the them!

  17. January 21, 2021

    Wonderful sustainable Design! The Clocks are fantastic, aren’t they?

    Love & Peace

  18. Pimlico Pete permalink
    January 21, 2021

    Cow knobs?

    Pimlico Pete

  19. Nicola permalink
    January 22, 2021

    Wonderful. Stropping machine…. my clever clogs other half knew what it was of course!

  20. Mónica Anguera Cuyás permalink
    January 22, 2021

    Charming catalogue!!

    Thanks a lot for sharing it.

  21. Pete Brandon permalink
    February 3, 2022

    My dad worked there during 30,40 50 and 60’s. Sometimes he would take me to work on a Saturday morning. I remember the smell of cardboard and paper and would get a cheese roll from Syds stall.

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