Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cheam Sainsbury's and a Mystery Solved!

The recent 'Open Buildings' weekend is always a great oppportunity to go out and have a look at some of those places that you just never seem to get around to in the normal course of life. Mind you, as good a prompt as it is it's not infalible and I've still failed to get a look around the Carshalton Water Tower (maybe next year...).

However I did find myself taking a trip out to Cheam village in Sutton to have look at some of their buildings - mainly the 15th century Whitehall which was very interesting and well worth the (minimal, for me anyway) effort involved. However, when I went for a quick look around at the local shops and buildings - as you can't help doing when you've got a Faded London sort of mindset - I spotted a shop mosaic that looked strangely familiar.
Suspiciously like the Balham shop-front?

The mosaic was just outside a shop that was undergoing a bit of a renovation or a refit. Being a Sunday afternoon it was all shut up but the floral design was identical to one I had seen locally a few months ago and mentioned in a post called A Balham Mosaic.

At the time I thought it was an intriguing on-off and didn't think much more about it but it seems it was actually more like a trade design and what's more I would guess that it was contemporary with the David Greig mosaic and tile-work that I spotted in Brixton. It is, in fact, the corporate design for J. R Sainsbury and on this site not only has the external design survived, but pretty much the whole of the interior has as well! It was tricky to photograph it through the glass doors, especially as it covered the whole of the visible floor-space, but you can get an idea of the quality of the preservation from this threashold mosaic proudly declaring the shop name

Looks as though Blue and Brown were the corporate colours back then

With only a phone camera to capture it through the doors I couldn't get much of a view inside but it was interesting to see that the floor plan was typical of the day with counters running around three walls and the customers safely in the middle. I was also really intrigued to see that the shop-front itself looked original with huge sash windows either side of the door to allow them to convert into open spaces when the weather was decent.

I'm not sure what the future holds for this shop - whether it's part of a preservation scheme, going to be gutted or whether the owners are going to incorporate the original features into whatever it opens up as - but it was a real pleasure to stumble across it in such an unexpected manner.