Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Brompton Road has at least two shops of interest - Burkett's, the poulterers, and T.
Debry Fils. Burkett's has a tiled interior with a deep frieze of acanthus pattern raised in
pale cream against a background of blue-green. Lock's hat shop in St James's Street is too
well known to be included here, but it reminds me that they wear straw boaters, at Bur-
kett's, which is exactly the right headgear for a butcher, poulterer or fishmonger. Debry
Fils is somewhat modernised, but the Edwardian white-painted window remains, and the
period atmosphere, too, no doubt because of the mirrors still in place in the alcove and
also the large be-ribboned boxes of chocolates ranged behind the counter. This mention
of chocolates brings me to that delightful shop, Prestat's, in South Moulton Street. The
interior is full of mirrors and gilding and mahogany showcases full of chocolate boxes,
and there is an old-fashioned pair of scales. There are those tall cylindrical glass jars with
big pointed stoppers, full of sugared almonds and chocolate dragees. The mirrors reflect
each other and the sweet jars doubling one's pleasure. Only a hansom or a Victoria waiting
outside is wanting or the exquisite, civilised, late nineteenth-century atmosphere would be
complete in all details. Only Floris, the perfumiers, in Jermyn Street, is so fine, and the
latter has the added attraction of shell pink electric light shades of Edwardian vintage. To
close this short list (which is but a sample of the considerable number to be found and ap-
preciated), there is one of quite a different type, Hopkin Purvis, the oil and colourmen in
Greek Street, Soho. This has a sober, mid-Victorian Classical façade and an old-fashioned
crane folded against the windows. The interior is also good; here again occur the rows of
little wooden drawers formerly found in pharmacies, colourmen, and seed shops.
Another special variety of London shops is the Welsh dairy. Dairying in one of the large
cities - London, for preference - was one of the occupations to which the Welsh natur-
ally turned in the general exodus from their homeland. They made money in other ways,
of course, but dairying in London was generally favoured. There must be dozens of little
London dairies with the name of Jones on the fascia. The Welsh, like the Jews, are gregari-
ous, and could hope to find family friends already in the trade, but today the big com-
bines have created a situation in which there is no longer the same scope for the small
private dairy, perhaps with only a single roundsman. Many of the Welsh dairies have little
Staffordshire groups in the window, or sometimes a large pottery churn, gold-banded with
a lithographed picture of a farm on the side towards the window. I think perhaps my fa-
vourite apart from the blue-tiled Evan's dairy in Warren Street is the Park Farm Dairy in
Tachbrook Street. Outside are brown and yellow patterned tiles and inside the inevitable
mirrors, a marble counter and a showcase ornamented with tiles. These tiles are rather fine,
the subjects, transfer printed in black on cream, being of deer and other animal subjects
and Victorian cottage door and village scenes, oddly in contrast with the pallid surround-
ing streets.
It is often impossible to guess at what lies behind the modernised façades of London
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