Shopping History – Leamington Spa

Following on from my post looking at the beautiful Art Deco Railway Station in Leamington Spa, today I’m taking a look at some of the buildings that make up some of the town’s shopping history. Some have touches of Art Deco, and there is even a store that shows signs of Art Nouveau origins.

Former Burton Store Now Bill’s Restaurant

I love a Burton Store, and the Leamington One is a great example of the style, showing similarities to stores in both Southend and Cheltenham. The ghost signage is still in place, as are beautiful and elaborate features on the columns, but the building does look like it could do with those tiles cleaned.

Bill’s Restaurant is now based in this building, and on its website it boasts of internal Art Deco features, so I may pay a visit next time I’m in town. (You can see another former Burton building here)

Former Woolworths Store

I really like the streamlined elegance of this former Woolworths store which was built in 1922 and has a blue plaque as the site of the former home of Henry Peach Robinson, a local photographic pioneer.

The store is now a branch of H&M. (Check out a more ornamental former Woolworths here.)

Art Deco Bank building

This is another fabulous building that is full of Art Deco period features, whilst also having one foot in the Regency period. It is currently home to a branch of Barclays bank, but was once a Burton building, although I don’t believe it was built by Burton’s architects as it has no foundation stones, nor is it mentioned on any of the Burton architecture sites I have researched.

It is those unusual geometric details that make this building really stand out.

Art Nouveau Details At Oliver Bonas

Just on the edge of the Barclays building featured above is the Oliver Bonas building. You can see it in better detail in the image below. From this angle, it certainly looks like a typical Regency building, tall and proud and elegant. But from the side elevation, it gets more interesting.

This is the side of the building that lies on Warwick Street, and was built circa 1818-30, so definitely within the Regency, George lV era, but look at those features, the strange, almost Moorish shaped windows, the curves above the doorway, and the wrought iron detailing that is more suited to Paris than Leamington. The features are clearly influenced by the Art Nouveau era so I’m guessing they were probably added at the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century. I love them for their unusual quality, and combined with the curved glass of the windows, I think they make for a stunning building that is both historical and yet modern.

Former Halfords/Possible Fishmongers

Sometimes you see a building that you know would’ve been beautifully and imposing in its heyday, but has now gone to seed. The below building is just one of those. In the past it was an Halfords for many years, and before that it in the 1930’s and 40’s it was a fish and poultry shop called Sawyers, as a lovely lady on the Leamington Spa and Warwick memories page mentioned that her father had worked at Halfords and that there had been the outlines of fish in plaster high on the walls.

The clock doesn’t work, the hands are set in position, but I still feel that this is a building that could be beautiful, and is still impressive in its shabby elegance.

With thanks to Lindsey Tagg, John Astell and Barry Franklin, plus many others from from Leamington Spa and Warwick Memories – All Our Yesterdays, Todays &Tomorrows Page on Facebook.

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