29 Dec 2017
Numbers 3-7 Stoke Newington Church Street
On one of my walking tours back in 2014 guests had the opportunity to see this reveal of a newsagent and tobacconists’ sign at No.5 Stoke Newington Church Street. Starlove, as it was known, occupied the premises from at least 1962 until the late 1970s and, prior to that, it had been a newsagent since at least 1940 under the name of Samuel Cohen. (See History of Stoke Newington’s excellent research plotting businesses on the street over time.) The sign is what is known as a privilege i.e. jointly promoting the shop and one of the products available inside, in this case Player’s No.6 cigarettes, and paid for by the larger manufacturing firm. This form of advertising is still prevalant on newsagents across the country, although obviously no longer sponsored by tobacco brands.
The sign was revealed after the jewellers, Affinity, moved out and the signage was being replaced by the short-lived Vintage second hand shop. Aware that it may have some value, Vintage removed the old Starlove sign and made it available for sale inside the shop. I did ask what they wanted for it and seem to recall something in the region of £150-200. It remained in there, as far as I’m aware, until they closed and I used to take people in for a look at the end of tours if they were interested in a little bonus piece of historic signage.
The Starlove sign is captured in this ‘triptych’ of shop fronts painted in watercolour and ink by BEJ Smith. The piece is based on a 1970s photograph and the last of these, Rosa at No.3, only closed last year. Sheppards Market (formerly Laurence George Shepherd, miscellaneous dealer, note spelling change) at No.7 popped up in the wonderful book, A Nation of Shopkeepers. It was also briefly revealed again in 2014 and captured by Stoke Newington History during the replacement of signage on long-standing estate agents, Phillips.
It’s nice to see these three locations linked through Smith’s painting, and to be taken back to when Rosa, Starlove and Sheppard were commercial neighbours on Church Street. It would be fascinating to see how many other shops could be documented in this way, either through archival photographs or the capturing of temporary reveals (e.g. The Vacuum Shop) – it would make a great complimentary piece of work to the cataloging of shops on the street over time…