Friday, February 14, 2014

Enduring Newark shops

click photo to enlarge
It's not unusual to find old shops that are retail premises no longer, perhaps having once been converted into housing, only the large window revealing their original purpose. And it's also quite common to find buildings that were once houses that are now shops, their location on a street frontage proving less of an advantage nowadays for genteel living but very suitable for catching the passing trade. Then there are those premises that were shops a hundred or two hundred years ago and are still used for that purpose

The other day we were shopping in the town of Newark in Nottinghamshire, an ancient settlement on the River Trent. As we walked round the fine old market square I looked at the timber-framed inns of the 1500s and the grander stone and brick examples of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Interspersed among these I could see town houses of the 1700s, the imposing town hall of the same period and some early and later nineteenth century retail shops. There was even a fine Moderne building from the 1930s, it's jazzed-up stripped classical styling trying to complement the earlier authentic examples but failing, though not without bringing its own welcome contribution to the streetscape.

However, it wasn't these grand or prominent buildings, often Listed for their historic or architectural importance, that caught my photographer's eye on this occasion. Rather, it was a couple of nineteenth century shops that were still, today, selling their wares to the people of the town. One, the taller of the pair, was largely as completed a hundred and fifty or so years ago, an illiterate mixture of Gothic and Classical decorative elements all infused with a hint of polychrome Venetian Gothic. Its verticality seemed to be a testament to the value of its small site which could only be maximised by building upwards. The ground floor was the most changed level, with the large window and glazed door obviously not the originals. However, the wooden surround was still there and I have no doubt that the box above the window still held an awning and a metal mechanism for deploying it. What a pity, I thought, that the proprietor had succumbed to paint of the fashionable "heritage" green. The adjoining building had been worked over very comprehensively, a veneer of modernity completely obscuring any traces of the original building. And yet it sat reasonably well next to its lanky neighbour, its name and the chosen font being the most jarring elements.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22.7mm (61mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On