Sunday, February 14, 2016

Swindon, Wiltshire


My previous post about the striking lettering on the Desborough corset factory reminded me of something similar that I saw not long ago in Swindon. This time it’s a shop, and one that follows the pattern for big, well lit premises of a specific kind of retailer in the late-19th century.
William Wallace Hunter came to Swindon from the East End of London in the late-19th century. By the 1890s he had a furnisher’s shop in the town and in by 1901 his business was installed in these premises in the centre of Swindon on the corner of Edgeware Rad and Regent Street. Like many furniture shops in the period, Hunter’s was large and well-lit: a real showroom, where he could display large pieces in a light setting ensured by generous areas of glass on the ground and first floors. The proprietor’s name was built into the structure, with a stone panel on the end and huge letters made up of a tessellation of white-painted blocks on the long facade. Like many Victorian and  Edwardian enterprises, it seems to have been undertaken with optimism: this kind of built-in lettering suggests that the business was here to stay. I’m not sure exactly how long the business lasted. Online sources mention the 1940s, and the local archives hold records of the company up to 1941, so it seems to have reached its half-century at least. It’s a shame those light upper rooms are no longer used in the original way, but at least the building survives, together with the lettering, to remind us of the enterprise that created it.


Peter Ashley said...

Just great. And so right now for extending their name by adding another 'W' for the web address!

Philip Wilkinson said...

I knew SOMETHING was missing!