Thursday 5 January 2012

modernist archaeology : mosaic tiles on shop fronts in Swindon c.1950s-80s

It is often said that poverty is the greatest preserver of architecture but as the British high street changes beyond recognition and local councils begin to hatch plans to revive the ghost towns i have been recording some of the design details which may soon be lost.

I have always been interested in the no man's land between neighbouring shop fronts. Often neglected, covered by phone cables, painted over or just disowned, these areas hark back to a time when business was better and shop owners could afford to care for the shop fronts. Over time the shop owners, shop fittings, customers and signs come and go but these small areas remain as monuments to the glory days.

Examples can be found in every high street across the UK. This collection of camera-phone photos were taken in Old Town, Gorse Hill and the town centre of my home town Swindon in December 2011. I have also recorded interesting floor tile mosaics and the areas under shop windows. More modernist archaeology can be found on my blog here, here and under the architecture section down the left hand side of my blog.
1960s marble chips recycled then recycled again as crazy paving
 above and below: two examples of 'swimming pool chic' under shop windows in Gorse Hill
 above: inset brass shop name in marble chip paving
 fade/gradient wholesome tiles often spotted in wimpy burger and service stations in the 70s & 80s
 above: the modern quick fix, paint 'em over
 above: lovely 50s/60s example that is only visible as you open the door to reveal the threshold of this shop in Gorse Hill.
 above: street paving, marble, mosaic tiles, ceramic floor tiles, different marble and carpet = party time
 above: these tiny ceramic mosaic tiles on a shop in Old Town have been tarted up by painting them over, they are currently on show again as a shop sign appears to have been removed to reveal their former glory...
 below: the doorway to Sainsbury's in the town centre -see more of the store here

1 comment:

  1. That was brilliant. Things that were built to last desperatly trying to hold on to life in Old Town ! actually, I think this is possibly the saddest blog post ive seen in ages.