Sorting through a big box of old photos, I stumbled across some forgotten black and white photos.
Growing up in the London suburbs and in my early teens I discovered that a short train ride away was a completely different life; the West End of London. I’d catch a train and spend the day wandering the streets of Covent Garden and Soho, browsing shops, looking at buildings, people watching.
I had a little camera which took proper rolls of film and I brought some black and white film. I’m not sure why but I took a photos of shops. I’m sharing of some of those photos, over the last few days I’ve been searching these same streets via Google Street view and matching up the places.
These first two are Neal Street, in Covent Garden. It used to be a collection of old cafes and independent stores, very much a back street. It’s still a bit ‘different’ but the stores are chains or global concerns. The Coppershop is now the Crocs store.
The Monmouth Coffee house still exists but I can’t imagine you’d leave your bike just propped outside.
This is Brewer Street in Soho, it used to be a bit of a dive. Essentially, this is still there in ‘look’ but it’s not longer a delicatessen it’s now a cafe.
This is my favourite, it’s the Bead Shop now, I guess an independent record shop didn’t stand much chance of survival.
A reminder of my youth, I love my collection of black and white photos. Not that long ago, but a world away. Independent stores are almost a novelty now, in battle with huge chains. High Streets are more often a thoroughfare of chain stores, stores in a corporate mould, identical from town to town and I wonder how last week’s events will impact on the look of our shops in the future?