A Walk Through 1980s London

When I get the time, it is great to have a walk round London without any fixed purpose other than look at the buildings, shops, streets and people. I always have a camera with me to record how London continues to change.

Last year I posted a number photos we took of 1980s London on a number of walks just exploring the city, and for this week’s post I have another selection of photos from across London in 1986. (The earlier posts can be found here and here)

Many of these shops and businesses have long since disappeared, however surprisingly a number still remain and thankfully many of the buildings have survived.

This was only thirty years ago, but in some ways, a very different City.

To start with, this is the shop of Amos Jones, theatrical chemist on the corner of Drury Lane and Long Acre, Amos Jones has long since disappeared however the building is still there and looking much the same.

Walk through 1980s London 14

S. Krantz & Son, Specialist Shoe Repairers, 180 Drury Lane. Another closed business, but the building remains.

Walk through 1980s London 15

L. Cornelissen & Son, Artists’ Colourmen in their original shop in Drury Lane. The business is still going and is now located at 105 Great Russel Street. The photo also has one of the parking meters that were so common on the streets in the 1980s (on the left, underneath the number 22). Funny how what was so common on the streets can disappear without really being noticed.

Walk through 1980s London 13

G. Smith & Sons – Smith’s Noted Snuff Shop Est 1869 at 74 Charing Cross Road. Lasted for over 120 years, but now closed. The building remains the same.

Walk through 1980s London 16

Dodds the Printers, 193 King’s Cross Road. Again, closed but the building is still much the same.

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Covent Garden now and N. Mann, Picture Framers, closed many years ago.

Walk through 1980s London 5

Into the City, and the corner of Wood Street and Cheapside. The building is still there, but L & R Wooderson, Shirtmakers, have been replaced by a gift card shop.

Walk throgh 1980s London 1

Attenborough Jewelers, 244 Bethnal Green Road. The past 30 years must have been good to them as they now occupy the building to the right as well as the original building.

Walk through 1980s London 22

The Monmouth Coffee House at 27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden. Still at the same location, but now called the Monmouth Coffee Company. Unfortunately the impressive display of coffee beans hanging above the shop are not there now.

Walk through 1980s London 4

Albert France & Son, not sure where this photo was taken, however they are still in business and based in Lamb’s Conduit Street.

Walk through 1980s London 3

James Smith & Sons, 53 New Oxford Street. Umbrella manufacturers since 1830. Still in the same shop with the same signage as back in 1986.

Walk through 1980s London 6

F. W. Collins & Son, 14 Earlham Street, Covent Garden. Run by seven generations of the Collins family, with each first-born son always being named Fred to ensure the continuity of the business. Closed around 2006.

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J. Evans, Dairy Farmer on the corner of Warren Street and Conway Street. The shop has long closed, however the exterior decoration has remained and the shop is now a cafe.

Walk through 1980s London 7

LLoyd and Son, Dairy Farmers on the corner of River Street and Amwell Street. The shop has closed, but the building and the original exterior decoration is still in place.

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Another photo of Lloyd & Son showing one of the shop windows. Corner shops like this just do not exist anymore.

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Another Camden shop – walk along Camden High Street today and the shops are much the same,

Walk through 1980s London 12

Syd’s Coffee Stall, opened in 1919 and still going strong on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Calvert Avenue.

Walk through 1980s London 21

Did not make a note of the location of this building – original signs on the walls. Do not recall having seen this building in recent years.

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B. Flegg in Monmouth Street. I suspect these signs are not there anymore as I do not recall seeing them when I last walked down Monmouth Street as I would have taken another photo.

Walk through 1980s London 2

Advertising signs on building on the corner of Cambridge Gardens and Ladbroke Grove. The building is still there (much cleaner now) but the signs have gone.

Walk through 1980s London 20

F. Bowman, Engineer’s Pattern Makers, 13 Amwell Street. Although the business has long since closed, the shop front is still in place.

Walk through 1980s London 17

London is a fantastic city to walk, having a few hours to go on a walk with no clear direction and turning down streets at random just to see what is there often reveals so much about the city. Hopefully now that the lighter evenings are here with the hope of better weather, there will be plenty of opportunities for more long, random walks.


27 thoughts on “A Walk Through 1980s London

  1. Jo W

    Another interesting post,Admin. It is always great to just wander slowly and take notice of the buildings above shopfronts and businesses. If I can spot an old advertising sign or a piece of rather over ornate brickwork or even a fancy parapet, it makes up for the occasional stumble because I’m not looking at the pavement!

  2. DJT

    Wonderful pictures of shop fronts in areas that I knew so well in the 80’s.

    BTW does anyone know if the laboratory equipment suppliers (they may have been named Brick’s) on the eastern side of Stoke Newington High Street, just south of the station, still exists?

  3. Ray Hulm

    It’s rare for any of us to be able to catch you out on anything but the B Flegg writing is still in Monmouth Street. One of the simple joys of wandering around town is the number of old wall advertisements still in place. Great stuff as usual.

  4. Jonathan Wadman

    For those of us who collect ghost signs and old-style shopfronts these pictures provide exquisite torture. At least some of them are still extant, though.

  5. Mike Kay

    I walk past James Smith umbrella shop nearly every time I’m in London. And I’d no idea that the coffee stall I’ve seen just off Shoreditch high street has such a pedigree. Fascinating.
    thanks very much.

  6. Sara James

    Albert France were the funeral directors for Nelson after the Battle of Trafalgar. The funeral was on 9 January 1806 at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

  7. Anne Guy

    Another great post and the last paragraph sums up how I feel about the great city! Also you have included three of my favourite places Cornellissens artists colour men, Smiths brolly emporium and Syds cafe…all brilliant! Thanks for posting these great photos.

  8. sole

    I bet that the picture for Albert France & Son was taken just a few shops down Monmouth Coffee, in Monmouth street. Nowadays there’s a Scribbler shop, but the red tiles on the right seem to be the same from the pub in the corner. If you want to check it out in Street View: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.5140211,-0.1269666,3a,74.5y,91.97h,89.78t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sZDZ_OaSofKIFjV9RVmVZGA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    I can also confirm the B Flegg sign is still there, but quite faded out

    Happy to contribute 😀

  9. Andrew

    I believe S Krantz was still there until at least 2011, with a new blue frontage. G Smith seems to have disappeared in late 2011.

    The A France website says they have been at 45 Lambs Conduit Street since 1898. I see someone else has mentioned 41 Monmouth Street, near Seven Dials, with the tiles of The Crown pub next door.

    Also as mentioned above, the “fount pens” ghost sign is at 113 Stoke Newington Church Street, and the B Flegg one is still above at 67 Monmouth Street. The Swan Ink sign on Cambridge Gardens may have disappeared, but there is the remains of a painted sign on the diagonally opposite corner. It is rather faint, but the top panel seems to say something like “SAMBUCA”.

  10. Andrew

    Sorry, I meant to come back to mention that the shop under the tree on the corner of Cheapside and Wood Street has a long history. The tree is growing where St Peter Cheap (or Westcheap) used to stand. The church was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666 and not replaced. The Eleanor Cross at West Cheap was nearby too.

    Apparently the parish was granted a licence to build a shop in front of the church wall on cheapside, in 1401! The tree is thought to be several hundred years old.

    And here it is “in danger” in 1901 – http://www.lookandlearn.com/history-images/U337007/A-Literary-London-Landmark-in-Danger-Wordsworths-Plane-Tree-at-the-Corner-of-Wood-Street-Cheapside?img=11&search=city+plan

    The building at that time looks slightly different.

  11. Paul

    L. Cornelissen & Son was on Great Queen Street and the pub next to A France is The Crown. I do not recall that branch of France’s ever being open!

  12. Jane

    I can confirm that the branch of A France was at 41 Monmouth Street. Before Cubitts arrived recently, I worked in the shop and had a few of my neighbours drop by to tell me tales of loved ones laid out in the back of the shop behind the till area….

  13. Charlotte T

    Can confirm that the B.Flegg saddlery advertisement on Monmouth Street is still there and going strong, albeit somewhat more faded now.

    1. Hwntw

      Lloyd ia a Welsh name and indicative of the prevalence of Welsh emigres in the dairy trade- usually from SW Wales. A friends father was in the trade in N London

  14. MrsPeel

    I see the post isn’t new (comments from 2016?) still, is new to me, so thank you again for a another great post. Every time we go to the West End, I look forward to see the Umbrella store, is one of the delights I see surviving… Only one thing I can’t agree … Camden has changed SO much in the past 30 years… same with Kentish Town (part of the Borough) when Camden started hiking prices because of the increased tourism, we used to go shopping in Kentish Town, the difference in prices in the Charity shops was huge…. these days Kentish Town is become something of a artistic elite and the prices are as high … anyway, great post, thanks so much for all your work!!!

    1. admin Post author

      Hi David – I would prefer not as I want to keep my father’s photos associated with the blog, and they will also be published in the future. Many thanks for asking.

    1. Greg Warren

      Hi The North London Jean’s shop belonged to me. It was not in Camden but in Upper St Islington. Many a great story to tell if any body is interested the first shop in UK to sell levis in1960s

  15. Kevin Scannell

    Remember walking past most of these shops, The North London Jean centre was located in Upper Street Islington just before Charlton Place, used it many times when I lived there,

  16. Nick

    Great photos! Thanks for sharing them. 1980s London was my time, ant the time I always remember so many places like these, on my trips to gigs all over town. and it’s interesting to see how there’s a definite dividing line some time in the very late 90s where all of these types of place went. It reminds me of The New Piccadilly Cafe off Piccadilly Circus too. At some point at the turn of the century rents must have just rocketed almost literally overnight and with the boomers that ran a lot of these places from their parents, hitting retirement age, that, was that.


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