Attractive, well-maintained streets draw visitors and shoppers to a town and are a vital part of its vitality and prosperity. Well-designed shopfronts are a key element of this – they signal a cared-for, prosperous town with its own distinctive identity
Tim Mars, Vice-Chair of the Civic Society said ‘Stroud has more than its fair share of “clone town” shopfronts, but there are also some outstanding new and preserved examples. The five shopfronts shortlisted for this year’s Town Council Design Award show the range of high-quality shopfronts in the town centre, from beautifully preserved and maintained historic examples to sensitively designed new facades.
‘I hope this competition will raise awareness of the importance of good design in this as in all other areas, and also open people’s eyes to the visual delights – and some of the horrors – with which we are surrounded.’
The nominations are:
Made In Stroud (13-14 Kendrick Street)
This is a simple but extremely effective new shopfront, well thought-out and carefully executed, in the newest of the main retail streets in the town, dating from 1872. The new facade perfectly reflects the purpose and values of the business within, from the plain metal capital letters individually fixed to fascia board spelling out MADE IN STROUD to the coloured glass panes in the upper part of the windows.
The shop takes up two units occupied in the 1960s by J H Wilkes’s furniture shop and Limbrick opticians.
Moonflower (55 High Street)
Moonflower occupies a building restored and renovated by Stroud Preservation Trust in the 1980s, a project which also involved the conversion of the upper floors for residential use and the creation of Withey’s Yard behind.
In 1910 this was shop was occupied by Withey and Withey the grocers. In 1950 it had become International Stores and, just before it was acquired by the Trust, the premises were occupied by Robbs Electrical Shop. The facade was marred by an insensitive modern shopfront.
The new traditional-style shop front has been handsomely embellished by Moonflower, from the hand-painted lettering on the fascia to the acid-etching at the foot of the windows. The colour scheme and style of lettering perfectly express the personality and values of the business.
SFH (20 Gloucester Street)
SFH is a fresh new face on Gloucester Street. It has a smart new shopfront within a perfectly-preserved traditional facade which still boasts the original tiled threshold. The fascia board is elegantly lettered (though unfortunately screen-printed onto Perspex rather than hand painted) and features the SFH logo of three overlapping circles. This design is also acid-etched into the lower part of two of the large window panes, leaving the view into salon unimpeded. As a result, the eye is drawn to the beautifully designed interior with its mirrors, shelves, beechwood floors and glass-brick wall.
Formerly Peter James Lighting, the premises were occupied by the Stroud Tyre Co in 1950 and Tuck the confectioner in 1910
Stroud & Swindon Building Society (10 King Street)
Stroud and Swindon Building Society has rescued King Street – and Stroud – from a major eyesore: the hideous Halfords shopfront with its garish, over-scaled blue-and-white plastic fascia.
Whereas the previous shopfront was totally at variance with the upper storeys, the new facade seeks to reconnect them. New stone pilasters divide the shopfront, rising to join the pilasters of the original building on the first floor. The three-bay rhythm of the original building has been re-instated, though sadly the right hand bay is spoilt by the crudely-detailed doorway giving access to the flats above. This was already in place when the new shopfront was designed so, while it mars the final effect, there was nothing Stroud and Swindon’s designers could do about it.
This is a thoughtful and sensitive attempt to design a new shopfront in harmony with a historic building. However, nothing can bring back the splendour and decorative exuberance of The Green Dragon Inn, which occupied these premises until the 1960s. It was rebuilt by Godsells around 1900 in a florid Victorian style, in marked contrast to the restrained arts and crafts flavour of the contemporaneous Greyhound (also a Godsells house) nearby.
Before Halfords the site was occupied by a Fine Fare supermarket.
Walkers Bakery (11 Kendrick Street)
Walkers is a splendid example of a high Victorian shopfront. The current decorative scheme may not be to everyone’s taste but it does not detract from the grandeur of the original design.
Walkers is also is a brave and lonely survivor—a poignant reminder of what has been lost, since originally the whole block on this side of Kendrick Street, from Threadneedle Street to the High Street, was graced with elegant shopfronts to this design. The re-instatement of the original shopfronts on this side of Kendrick Street should be a priority for Stroud. At a stroke it would transform the appearance of one of Stroud’s finest streets and be a real shot in the arm for the whole town centre.
Walkers has occupied these premises for many years, succeeding Fowler’s the confectioner.
UPDATE – Walkers Bakery are 2009 winners!