Exposed! 1920s shop sign on Queen’s Crescent

This morning, the most incredible vintage store front was uncovered on one of London’s oldest market streets

Buried: This morning, 11am, Queen's Crescent.
Buried treasure: the gleaming original Home & Colonial sign, 11am, Queen’s Crescent.
Pic: Stephen Emms
We tramp up and down Queen’s Crescent pretty much daily. Increasingly vibrant twice-weekly market aside, not much changes, maybe a dog off the lead here, a rolling mango there.

Saved: the sign is being kept for the new homeware store. Pic: Stephen Emms
Saved: the sign is being kept for the new homeware store. Pic: Stephen Emms
So imagine our surprise this morning when confronted with this just-revealed carved deco signage. Its juxtaposition with the neighbouring plastic facades was so powerful, in fact, that the shop owners were standing agog, and passers-by gathered to stop and stare.

So what on earth was Home & Colonial? Only one of the UK’s largest retail chains, that’s what. Founded by Julius Drewe in 1883, by the late 1920s stores, which mainly sold tea, mushroomed across the country.

We’re unsure as to exactly when H & C opened up on Queen’s Crescent, but this old picture from 1910 (right) suggests it was probably a similar time. And don’t forget, Sainsbury’s also opened its first store on the street (click here for a lot more on that).

Shop assistants outside the Home and Colonial Stores on Broad Street, Waterford, May 1910 Pic: Wikimedia Commons
Shop assistants at Broad Street, Waterford, May 1910 Pic: Wikimedia Commons
By 1961, reflecting the crumbling state of the British Empire, the group had restyled itself under its original name, Allied Suppliers. Twenty five years later? The whole lot had basically been swallowed up by Safeway UK – which, in turn was gulped down by a greedy Morrison’s.

We spoke to the owners, who were busy moving their bargain homeware store from over the road to the new premises; delighted with the interest from local residents, they assured us that the sign will be staying, as with E.Mono and Housepresso, but not, sadly, this one on Brecknock Rd.

But our advice is to go take a look today – just in case.

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  • Kathleen Mc Hugh

    As a child I lived at 83 Queens Crescent. till I was all most 17, I just loved doing my mothers shopping up Queens Crescent Market, thy were very happy days back in 1960

    • kathleen mc hugh

      Love the shop sign would be great to uncover more in the market