The Gentle Author shares some excerpts from Eleanor Crow‘s book, Shopfronts of London

E. Pellicci, Bethnal Green Road, Bethnal Green

This small friendly café has been owned by the Pellicci family since 1900. With its appealing façade of chrome-lined primrose Vitrolite panels, three-dimensional typography and fine decorative detailing, it is a testament to the enduring qualities of thoughtful shop design. The interior features art deco marquetry by cabinet maker Achille Cappoci from 1946, and the premises are Grade II listed. Most importantly, the business thrives because the Pellicci family know how to keep their customers happy – whether diehard locals, passing celebrities or tourists on a pilgrimage – with their winning combination of wholesome food, exemplary service and entertaining banter.

L. Manze, High Street, Walthamstow

Opened in the thirties by Lionel Manze, this eel and pie shop in Walthamstow High Street has thankfully managed to preserve its fine gilded glass signage, tiling and wooden booths, even if the antique ornamental tillwas stolen in 2017. Lionel was the brother of Michele Manze who came from Ravello in Italy in 1878 as a child and opened the first Manze family eel and pie shop in Tower Bridge Road in 1902, taking over from RobertCooke who traded there from 1891. By 1930,there were fourteen shops with the Manze name and, although the Walthamstow shop is now owned independently, Manzes in Tower Bridge Road and Deptford are still run by the family.

KTS The Corner, Kingsland Road, Dalston

I have included only a fraction of the intricate hand-carved fascia lettering and signage which continues across the side of the building along Englefield Road. This bravura frieze of pictograms depicting Plumbing & Electrical, Joinery, Keys Cut, Gardening and Timber Cut-to-Size, and the three dimensional clock hanging above the door, were designed and made by Tony O’Kane, the owner. Although it is widely believed the initials stand for Kingsland Timber Service, in fact Tony named the business after his three children, Katie, Toni and Sean. I often return to this favourite shop on the Kingsland Road to admire the magnificent pavement display of brooms, mops and spades, as well as the innumerable small tools in the windows.

Gold, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields

The fame of this shop lies in the much-photographed fascia, proclaiming ‘A. Gold. French Milliner’ in elegant italics. Annie Gold and her husband Jacob were of Polish- Russian origin and she ran her millinery business here at 42 Brushfield Street from 1889 to 1892, living above the shop. In the nineteenth century, this street in Spitalfields comprised sixty-five small businesses, which included a watchmaker, cheesemonger, dining rooms, confectioners, a furrier, fried fish dealer and an undertaker. Yet when I painted this, it was the last independent shop, hemmed in by chains.

Eleanor’s book will be published on September 5th. Order your copy from Spitalfields Books 

The Gentle Author writes daily about the culture of East London at spitalfieldslife.com. You can also follow @thegentleauthor on twitter.

Images courtesy of and ©Eleanor Crow