Photo of an ironmonger at 185 Wandsworth High Street, London, on show in Robert Young’s exhibition.

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Running from May 9-18 with a preview on the 8th, the exhibition centres on black and white images of traditional ironmongers or hardware shopfronts in London founded by the Sawyer family, taken from 1928-52. Several are inscribed with their locations.

The patriarch of the enterprise, Thomas Sawyer (1849-1935) owned around 10 shops by 1887, and became a merchant of china and glass trading under the name Hope. By 1928 when his son Walter took over the business, there were 20 instances of Hope’s Ltd across London. By 1952 there was only one.

The business was gradually bought up by Timothy Whites, which was in turn taken over by Boots.


Photo of an ironmonger at an unknown location, on show in Robert Young’s exhibition.

According to Young, the show is “in celebration and memory of the quintessentially British high street”.

He adds: “The shopfronts are excitingly busy and cluttered, generally spilling out onto the pavement, and both the images and subjects are evocatively nostalgic.”

The photos in the show are all offered mounted and framed for £500 each, and a digital catalogue will be released to coincide with the show.