Taking the ferry from Hythe to Southampton (using the
1922 electric railway up Hythe pier and the historically important
ferry vessel) lands one on the Town Quay. A short walk takes the
visitor into Southampton's Old Town and all these photographs are taken
in and around the High Street which gently rises towards the ancient
Bargate (from then on you are in a shopping centre). This strikes us as
a business, merchants' and financial centre of the town which is
undergoing reinvention: trading warehouses awaiting conversion into
flats, huge post offices which are no more, large hotels hanging in
there. Of course, many buildings still carry the lettering of their
former uses. Wander through these images and wonder where it will all
'MAY & WADE
... shouts its identity
at the world. The use of a white rectangular background panel on a wall
with triangular top is a bold move: the upper 'nip' meant that the
ampersand has to be shrunk between condensed face 'May and 'Wade'
with no spacing. And on the front of this building a beaten metal strip
(lead perhaps) bearing the the date on either side: '19' and '03' with
the 'M&W' in the centre, all in a difficult-to-decipher font (see
A fine office entrance has two different shields with
intertwined 'TM' (or is it 'MT'?) on either side with a delightfully flamboyant:
between. You can see that this 'TM' motif is repeated
on another similar entrance to the left of the next image. The grand
doorway adjoining it boasts lions with shields and all sorts of stone
and brickwork decoration with the words on either side of the overhang:
'HOLY ROOD' and 'CHAMBERS'
Another attractive building in one of the side roads:
the chequerboard brickwork and fine stonework of the company:
'COOKSEY, SON & BURCH... PROVISION
set in cartouches on
either side. The lower enlargement shows the lettering from a different
angle. We're sure that this
building isn't now a provision merchants' headquarters, more's the
pity. Probably a solicitor's office.
This nearby building shows all the signs of power,
wealth, trade and finance. Beneath the decorative frieze round on the
side wall we find two dates:
'ERECTED A.D. MDCCCLXVII.'
'ESTABLISHED A.D. MDCCCLXXXIII.'
in Roman numerals (erected 1867; established 1883).
The symmetrical building on the opposite side of the
road (34-35 High Street, Old Town) is prominently signed:
on the two notable half-round window bays on the upper
floors. Pale grey outlined in black gives this distinctive typeface
impact on either side of the central coaching entrance (Jane Austen is
said to have celebrated her 21st birthday here).
The large Lloyd's Bank
building states its date in Latin at the top:
'RENOVATUM EST HOC AEDIFICIUM
AMPLIFICATUM ANNO DOMINI MCMXXVIII'
('This building was
and enlarged A.D. 1928')
Tucked away beneath the
porch is the 'BANK ENTRANCE' sign. The
familiar black horse insignia is above.
Here's a very grand 'POST OFFICE',
named in a very finely decorated
manner with, at the top of the facade, shell pediments, pilasters,
curves, arcs and finials, plus the date: 'VR... 1894... AD'.
The close-up below gives an idea of the rococco
detailing in the stone
work around the lettering. Of course, it's not a Post Office any more...
Below are a neighbouring buildings, each in their own
and facinating. The mock Tudor black-and-white timbering of 'THE RED
LION' (named above the ground floor windows) contrasts with the
towering ceramic tiled facade to the right. 'O... W' sit inside
decorative framing either side of the topmost window with a floridly
expressed viking ship in blue and white above. Does anyone know who
'O&W are Oakley and Watling, the firm that supplied the liners with
fruit and flowers. Jan & Jack']
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