Three Rivers Museum Trust chairman Fabian Hiscock recalls one constant as he reflects on the changing face of shopping in our high streets.
We all regret, don’t we, the way in which our shops close, change, open, get demolished…. a sign of the times!
But hasn’t it always been like that? A selection of images shows ‘High Street Shops’ over a number of decades, and we see some simply vanish, some move and some re-invent themselves.
Even in Rickmansworth we’ve seen Tesco move from the High Street to the new shopping precinct Penn Place in the 1970s, and again to the Harefield Road in the 1990s as the way we use the supermarket has changed. And as we’ve seen in earlier articles, Penn Place itself came and went in about 30 years.
A sequence of images of the bottom of Station Road shows huge change between the time around the First World War and the 1970s. But one constant is Ibbotsons, on the corner of the High Street and Station Road.
The style of the shop front changed – and so did the style of shop-keeping, and of course what they sold, eventually to give way altogether to new fashions of both clothing and shopping, with different buildings required in a different type of street. Some, like Gilhams in the 1960s, maintained a more classic look, next to new businesses (like TV and electrical stores) with a very different appearance. And lots of us will remember Woolworths….
What seems, of course, to be new now is that we do so much less of our shopping in a building of any sort – the ‘shop’ is quite different from what we remember. In presenting our history we can only remind readers of how things used to be - whether it’s now better or worse isn’t our business, but it’s certainly different.