Then and now

I should have been writing today but I spent the morning playing on Google maps instead. I think I can pass it off as research though… sort of. I collect 19th century photographs, mostly portraits, and I was going through them to find ones I could use in this new thing I’m writing, but I got sidetracked by looking up the studio addresses printed on the backmarks of the CDVs to see whether they were still around. Some of them look like they’ve been demolished for newer buildings, particularly around London, but there are loads that are still there. I’ve put Google Street View screencaps along with the photos originally taken inside those buildings. I wonder how many of the people working there now – bookies and dry cleaners and newsagents and all sorts – know or care what was there 150 years ago…

Boak & Sons, 49 Market Place, Malton – now a newsagent

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E. H. Brice, 66 Crofton Road, Camberwell – now private residence

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Hellis & Sons had a ton of studios around London. The one at 288 Fulham Road is the only one I found that still has anything at all to do with photography today, and even that hardly counts – it’s next door to a Kodak shop.

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Hellis & Sons, 6 The Pavement, Clapham Common, London – now Flight Centre travel agent

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Hellis & Sons, 26 Westbourne Grove, London – now Al Saqi bookshop

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Hellis & Sons, 30 Clapham Road, London – now Oval Express dry cleaners

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Hellis & Sons, 71 Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, London – now Hackney Claims Ltd

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Hellis & Sons, 107 Fulham Road, London – now Ralph Lauren shop

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Hellis & Sons, 160 High Street, Camden, London – now Samvo bookies

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Hellis & Sons, 211-213 Regent Street, London – now Hoss Intropia boutique

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Hellis & Sons, 288 Fulham Road, London – now Clothes Care dry cleaners

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Lock & Whitfield, 178 Regent Street, London – now Esprit shop

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Parisian School of Photography, 131 Fleet Street, London – now Jeeves dry cleaners

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Parisian School of Photography, 246 Old Kent Road, London – now Addis computer shop

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R. Pratchett, 130 Cheltenham Road, Bristol – now The Social bar & cafe

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The Edge (Thomas Edge), 12-14 Gloddaeth Street, Llandudno – now Nigel Roberts newsagent. Llandudno is also where Lindsay and Pip lived in Stockholm Syndrome, on the peninsula near Alice Liddell’s family home. Edge photographed Alice and her sisters while they were living there.

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Thomas Lewis, 135 Stratford Road, Birmingham – now Abdul barber shop

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A lot of these particular photographs aren’t in great condition, they’re faded and smudged with fingerprints and marked from mounts or from being glued into albums, but things like this are always worth keeping anyway. Proper collectors act a bit horrified that I blow money on imperfect images that don’t have any real monetary value (hard stare at Hilary Kay), but it’s like collecting books – pristine first editions are great and everything, but I’d rather have a beloved old children’s book with dogeared corners and pages falling out of the spine from being read too many times. On one hand I get kind of depressed that these pictures that were obviously so precious to someone back in our several-great-grandparents’ time have fallen out of the family and ended up in boot sales and charity shops with 10p written on the back in biro (oh my god STOP DOING THAT you cretins, it’s like drawing a moustache and glasses on a Rossetti). I have these random panic attacks that if I get smashed by a bus and die tomorrow my family won’t consider my precious things to be precious and my Lillian Gish letters and old toy dog will end up in the bin – it’s the same kind of thing. I just get genuinely upset when things people clearly treasured so much end up with family members who aren’t interested. On the other hand… NOW THEY ARE MINE. My house is like an orphanage for abandoned memories. I love them all, even the tatty ones. Especially the tatty ones.

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One comment on “Then and now

  1. Viv Higgins says:

    Quite agree. I Googled HELLIS & SONS PHOTOGRAPHY and found your site. Old photos (if only someone had written the names on the back!) are part of our family history. I have a group pic of my father with his sister and brother, unfortunately no date but must be 1920’s, and I see Hellis had shops around the Fulham Rd or Clapham areas, the places where they grew up. We are so noisy and rushed today, the old pix are lovely to see.

    Viv

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