Tuesday 4 August 2009

Richmond Upon Thames - A Sunday Stroll

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Well here's a map that you'll have to take with a pinch of salt, mainly due to Google Maps insistence of following roads, even when you've actually walked through a park and along a riverside tow-path as I did here. A family stroll on a pleasant Sunday afternoon is always too good a chance to miss for the surreptitious psycho-geographer so after casually mentioning that having a look at the famous view from Richmond Hill followed up by a walk along the river might be a nice way to spend an afternoon, I took along the camera for company. On the off chance that something might turn up. Possibly...

After parking in a back street at the top of the hill I spotted a series of Victorian shops on
Friars Stile Road. Always worth a look the first thing that caught my eye was this striking bit of tile work. Black and green - a classic colour combination with some attractive bordering.
The metal ventilation grille was worth a closer look as well. I was wondering if it might originally have been a butcher's which might have benefited from some extra air on a hot summers day, or whether it might just be ventilation for a cellar. Quite attractive, even if the tilework is a bit rough and ready.
Moving along the shops provided the first of several mosaic doorways. Richmond has never exactly been a slum area so perhaps it's not surprising that a considerable number of shop-keepers chose to splash out on a bit of self-advertising. It's a pity that so many are just initials, although I'm sure a check in od trade directories would soon reveal the full names
Up near the junction with Richmond Hill itself is this ghost sign. A closer look and it looks as though it reads Millers(?) Candy Sweets Confectionery Minerals Cigar(ettes) & Tobacco
Taking a short cut though Terrace Gardens (whilst Google Maps insists on going by Nightingale Lane), there is a narrow tunnel underneath Petersham Road as you emerge to a view of the Thames in front of you, a quick glance over your shoulder would show a fairly grotesque gargoyle staring at your back. He's not the only one either as there are a couple of small grottos with some of his equally decrepit friends flanking him as well.
It's a very pleasant walk along the river-bank, but there's not a lot to trouble the camera. However there was a plaque in front of an admittedly splendid Spanish Plane. It struck me that magnificent as it is, I'm sure the Planes in Ravensbury Park Morden where just as big if not bigger. But then they are mighty London Planes not the Spanish variety so I suppose it's not like with like. Personally I like a good tree so it's nice to see one being celebrated.
Whittaker Avenue Passing under the bridge I took a right turn up a narrow lane and caught sight of some interesting wall brackets on the side of an old building. I'll probably add this picture and a later one to my posting dedicated to the noble art of wall-restraint, but I thought the bricks here were also interesting with an interesting pattern of one long side followed by three short ends. I assume this pattern has a name like 'English Stretcher Bond' or 'Flemmish Bond' but I've no idea what it is. Looks old though.
A left turn down King Street revealed this fantastically ornate shop name. A three-dimensional montage of golden creepers is fronted by glass, upon which is painted - in gold of course - the name of the shopkeeper.
This close up gives a clearer idea of the sheer 'bling' factor involved in such a sign. You can't really read the name very clearly, so as a sign it's not so hot, but as a bit of over-the-top 'Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen'-ism it cannot be beat
Through to Richmond Green now and on the corner of Friars Lane was another example of wall bracing. This particular brace was in a shape of an inverted question mark, which certainly puts it up with the odder examples I'd seen.
Richmond Green: A nice public drinks-fountain but I couldn't get in too close as it was base-camp for a local busker and I didn't want him thinking I was trying to nick his kit...
Richmond Green: The large houses edging the Green have lots of individual features and I was quite taken by this particular boot-scraper, that was built into the railings.
Richmond Green A new coalhole producer to me and very welcome he is too. Always nice to find a local supplier for the area and W.F. Reynolds fits the bill a treat.
I've no idea how old these eyes are, but there was no way I was going to walk by this optometrist without taking a picture. As it happens I've a collection of what I euphemistically call 'Modern Advertising', so it's going straight in there as well. I was trying desperately not to say how 'eye catching' it was, but I don't think I'll bother now. If I ever need a private, Richmond -based optometrist I know exactly where I'll be heading...
Another intriguing bootscraper and my last from Richmond Green. I bet the little pointy-bit in the middle was really useful for getting off the tricky bits of mud stuck in the tread
The Square: I'm not sure if The Imperial pub ever made it to its centenary but my wife definitely recalls it being open in the 80's. There's nothing left no though apart from the plaque.
George Street: Two examples of High Street ornamentation here. This first one is only the corner of a building that looks large enough to have been a department store. The initials are WB and its dated 1896. I'm sure it would have been one of the more significant buildings in Richmond at the time so shouldn't be too difficult to find some more information about.
The second building is York House and although it's the obvious ornamentation that catches the eye what is also attractive, I feel, are the original stained glass panels that still frame it.
George Street: They say its the quiet ones you've got to watch and the date stone below was definitely the quiet one of the photos I took. By that I mean it was almost an afterthought, a not very impressive looking engraving in a bit of granite at the bottom of a pillar. You could very easily walk past it and not realise it was there. Except that I had taken a picture of a very similar dedication only a few weeks previously at Rose Hill in Sutton. What's the significance? Well I believe these stones were laid to commemorate the opening of a new Burtons tailor shop. In this case Stanley Howard Burton was the son of the founder, Montague Burton, and by the end of the 40s there were over 400 Burtons shops offering demobbed service-men a shirt underpants, waistcoat jacket and trousers for an all-inclusive price. The original 'Full Monty'!
I suspect there are many of these ex-Burtons sites around London so I might well keep my eye out for a few and see if I can produce a 'Full Monty' posting of my own...
George Street: Two for one here with not only a ghost sign but also a ghost 'window' to its right! The sign seems to read "Hosier Hatter &c."
Victoria Place, just off of Richmond Hill had this intriguing FH plate attached to the wall. I was assuming that the FH stood for 'Fire Hydrant' but it has a certain antique charm about it, even if it doesn't tell you where the hydrant might actually be.
Richmond Hill: A very sturdy but quite attractive looking dated pediment. It's nice they've taken the trouble to pick out some of the detail in gold.
Still on Richmond Hill this smashing mosaic had a complementary golden design around the base of the windows. I don't know if it was contemporary but together they make for a very attractive frontage.
Not to be out-done, a few feet up the road J. Clarke and Sons are still hanging on even though their mosaic is slowly being eroded by the march of time. It's a pity, but it still has its charm.
Richmond Hill: It's quite heartening really to come across yet another building whose owners can't quite bring themselves to paint over the faint traces of the past. In this case the old house name has been carefully preserved, even though the rest of the building has been given a bit of a touch up.
Richmond Hill: It's a bit battered but the inscription around the edge is still readable "T. Hyatt, 9 Farringdon Road, London - Griffith's Patent No. 2724 1888" Another new producer from what's been a very productive bit of road!
Richmond Hill: Another dated pediment that makes the earlier one from 1884 look vey restrained. The typeface used with the flattened '8' seems very typical of this period and pops up quite frequently.
Near the top of Richmond Hill I found another of these old Fire Hydrant signs, this time next to a modern sign that not only confirmed that it was indeed a hydrant sign, but also told you where it was. In this case, at my feet...


Bixle said...

Beautiful post as always. Just to say, though, that Google Maps doesn't have to follow roads. In fact, I thought the default was to not follow roads. You should be able to toggle by clicking the little down arrow on the line drawing tool.

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Hi Yelfy,
Great work as usual.
You're right, those initials on mosaic doorways are frustrating. This afternoon I'm off to the library in Wimbledon to see if I can't identify one of them.
The sign in George Street was for a hosier and hatter indeed. Now partly hidden by the pipe on the left is a pretty large "W." I suppose the rest of the name was written on the part that that has disappeared on the right.
Did you have a look inside the former premises of J. Clarcke & Sons? They have some lovely tiles depicting scenes linked to the dairy trade.
By sheer coincidence I posted yesterday a picture of the ghost sign on Friars Stile Rd.
Finally, just to tease you a bit I shall post soon a picture of a Richmond ghost sign you just passed under...

Sebastien Ardouin said...

By the way, "WB", on top of the George Street building where Tesco now is, stood for Wright Bros. This department store became Owen & Owen in the 1960s and closed in 1990. Their main competitor was situated at the other end of the street. Founded in 1795, Gosling & Sons evolved from draper to department store. In the process they expanded into neighbouring shops and even bought the Queen's Head Hotel, which stood at the corner of George and King Streets. In 1968 the store was largely destroyed by fire and closed down. It reopened as Dickens & Jones two years later. Nowadays House of Fraser occupies the premises.

Anonymous said...

You may be interested in this GEM I just discovered in the Bush -


Yelfy said...

Thanks for all the further information Sebastien - I rarely have the opportunity to get to libraries to check out trade directories etc. so it's always good to hear of other's research. I did see the ornate dairy tiles but it was all shut up on a late Sunday afternoon and it would have done them a disservice to photograph them through the windows. As for missing the Richmond ghost sign, well if I spotted them all there'd be nothing for me to see next time I was there ;-)

Anonymous said...

J Clarke of the dairy shop was a predecessor company of Hornby and Clarke, who used to graze their cows on Petersham meadow, with the dairy itself nearby. Hornby and Clarke existed until 1960 with shops selling their dairy products all over Richmond and South West London. As your previous commentator says, the interior of the shop - now a hairdresser - has exquisite tiled polychromatic dairy scenes. Old cream pots from Hornby and Clarke are also very highly sought after by bottle collectors - including myself!

Anonymous said...

If you go up Kew Road north past the big roundabout up to the Shaftsbury Arms pub and look back, you'll see up on the side wall of the nudie-bookshop 'Palmer's'. This was a draper's shop, and I remember as a kid it used to have an overhead wire taking the money in a little bag from the counter to the cashier and bringing back the change. This was back in the early 1960s.

Dr Paul

Unknown said...

The drapers still had the overhead money system in the late '60s. I remember being lifted up to pull the handle as a child. It's now in a museum in London.
Wright Bros were still going in the '70s.

Unknown said...

Also the House of Frasier archives show Wright Bros to have been incorporated in 1924, but old photos show them at least 20 years before that.

Anonymous said...

Love this blog, just wanted to add on the department stores that the shop was called Owen Owen - no 'and' - it was one mans name and not two members of the same family as I'd always assumed!

SuedeNym said...

When I was fifteen I worked at Goslings during my school holidays in about 1967, having lied about my age. I remember Hayley Mills coming in for tights, which had only just become available. They cost 21/11 (£1.1s.11d), which was a fortune, around £17/18 in today's money.
The store had a newly installed coffee bar on the ground floor which was very different as there was no cafe culture at the time as we know it today.
I also remember a tiny toy shop which was like an Aladdin's cave to me as a very young child. Looking on Google Street View, I think it was where 'W T Spa' is, next to Coriander's.

LesD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LesD said...

Memories! In the early sixties, I had a Saturday job downstairs in the hardware department at Wrights. My training included being taught how to make pancakes in those new-fangled non-stick frying pans. Finally, the day came and I was let loose demonstrating to the customers! My take-home pay was 19/8. The wage was £1 but I had to pay a 4d stamp! My other memory is of a Chinese restaurant in Duke Street where I learnt to love oriental food.

John P said...

I know that we're nine years on from the original posting date but, as a former resident of Terrace Lane off Friars Stile Road, I used to shop in the parade and there seems to be no further info on one of the photos. The shop on the corner of Friars Stile and Rosemont Roads with the mosaic step was occupied by W.H. Cullen, a chain grocery. Back in the 50s the actor Colin Rix, better known as P.C. 49, lived in Rosemont Road. My first ever (legal) pint was consumed in the Marlborough pub a few doors down.

David G. said...

36 Friar Style Road, was indeed W.H.Cullen Grocers and very fine Grocers they were too. I started my career in the retail trade there in 1957 as 'The Boy out the back' and was taught my trade by the then Manage Mr Norrington who was a Master Grocer and although he was a bit of a tyrant he taught me well and it is thanks to him that I had a good career in retail all my working life albeit not all of it in the Grocery Trade

JudithM said...

Thank you for bringing back fascinating reminders of my childhood and teens growing up in Richmond. There are a few points however that I should like to correct. John P remembers PC49 as being played by the actor Colin Rix. Although Colin and his family did indeed live in Rosemont Road, it was in fact Brian Reece who was the famous PC49. Brian and his family also lived in Rosemont Road until his tragically young death from bone cancer.

We were very well served indeed with a very good range of food shops etc in our little 'village' on Friars Stile Road: greengrocers, dairy, fishmonger, grocers (WH Cullen), chemist, fresh baker, 2x butchers, wine merchants (Ellis); also haberdashers / dry-cleaner, iron-mongers, newsagent (Chatfield), hairdressers, shoe-mender, bank, sub-post office.

Hilltop on Friars Stile Road was our sub-post office which also sold sweets, cigarettes and ice-creams etc. This was run by Mr and Mrs Miller.

Gosling's fire was actually in 1962 as recorded in House of Fraser archives, and confirms my own recollection (my parents had been in the store only a few hours earlier!). The building remained empty for several years until being rebuilt and opened as Dickens and Jones (where I worked for a few months in the top floor restaurant).

I think that Suede Nym is thinking of Kempthorn's when she remembers Hayley Mills buying tights in 1967. They had a thriving and fashionable coffee bar on the ground floor and I certainly remember Hayley Mills being a customer in that store.

Is the green tile work on Friars Stile Road on the (curtain / toy?) shop next door to the chemists? In the 50s that was indeed a dairy, though I can't remember if it was Hornby and Clarke or Express Dairy.

The menswear and hatters shop on George St (opposite Goslings) used to also have an entrance through from Red Lion Street. They had a steam tube, I think for stretching hats (near the rear of the shop), on which I burned my hand in my childish curiosity.

In an upstairs room in Church Court just beside Wrights, my mother used to collect our ration books (still used in the early 50s), and concentrated orange juice.

Unknown said...

Could someone perhaps enlighten me as I seem to recall a huge fire at owen owen in the 1970s the building being practically rebuilt eventually becoming Dickens and Jones.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard of a shop/establishment in Richmond/Twickenham/Kingston area called Farmer and Millars? I was born in Twickenham in 1960 and discovered an old housekeeping book of my mother's in which she notes that around Christmas 1956 she spent £500 in Farmer and Millars. It's a huge amount of money for those days and I was curious to find out what the place was, but no joy from Mr Google.