Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A century of shopping on Powis Street in Woolwich

I am back in Woolwich this time on Powis Street separated by just over a century.

And I had forgotten how narrow the road is and how crowded it must have been when traffic including buses travelled along it.

Its transformation into a pedestrian through fare will have made shopping a lot safer but something of the buzz has been lost.

That said the place has retained the same sort of small shops which were there in 1908 when Banks and Bryan were trading from number 6 just two doors away from the Shakespeare which I remember drinking in but is now something else.

But there is a sort of continuity for  back then at number 2 was Birts & Son who were pawnbrokers and today almost on the same spot is H&T pawnbrokers who also offer “CHEQUE CASHING, CASH LOANS and PAYDAY ADVANCES.”

And along the road there is the same mix of chemists, tobacconists and clothes shops.

But there the similarity stops.

In 1908 there were lots of grocery outlets, butcher shops and hairdressers, along with a coal merchant, boot maker and umbrella manufacturer.

The list does much too high light the changing needs and fashions that have happened over the century.

Banks and Bryan were mantle manufacturers, G.H. Nickolds made and sold artificial teeth, James and John Matthews were hatters, and at number 36 the South Metropolitan Gas Company had their offices and show rooms.*

Then of course back in 1908 there are the number of horse drawn vehicles, most of which are delivery vans and wagons, with the old cab.

All a lot different from the scene captured by Colin on a Sunday morning in September of this year.

Pictures; Powis Street, 1905, from the series Woolwich Town & City, produced by Tuck & Sons, courtesy of courtesy of TuckDB, and Powis Street in 2013 from the collection of Colin Fitzpatrick

*Raphael Tuck and Sons Ltd who sold postcards for most of the late 19th and 20th centuries. 

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