Above: The shop in Old Kent Road – from a slide taken in the 1970s. This was probably the largest of all the stores run by Carter and Sons. The site of the shop is now modern housing
George Carter first opened his store in 1851. On the picture above the words ‘Hatter, Hosier, Tailor and Outfitter’ appear at the top of the building. He went on to have ‘Branches throughout London’ as the slogan states on the wall to the left. The beautiful building in the picture is in Georgian style. Whether Carter had the shop built for his shop or whether he took over an existing building in Old Kent Road is not known.
The large store stood on the north side of Old Kent Road, towards the western end. It was known as George Carter & Sons. Its was essentially a men’s outfitters but they also specialised in men’s hats. Carter & Sons had several stores across London – including Bermondsey and much of South London. There were also shops at Croydon, Hampstead and Chatham. The whole chain closed down in the 1980s or 1990s.
Above: The best known feature of their large store on the Old Kent Road was a clock with the figure of a gentleman’s head and shoulders above the clock. At mid-day the bowler hat would tilt backwards.
Above: The mosaic doorstep of the old branch-shop at 162 Jamaica Road – “G Carter & Sons” – which is now a shop used by a hairdresser. It is a few doors down the road from Bermondsey Underground Station.
As London’s high streets (and all the other high streets as well) continue to be dominated with ‘global brands’ like the major clothing chains, there seems no place in business for the ‘smaller man’. Stores like Carter’s have been driven out of business as customers look more to price than to service and quality. This is a shame because every high street throughout Britain looks like every other. Once you have seen one Top Shop, you have seen them all. Some of us are fortunate enough to have lived through the decades in London when the high street was much more interesting than it is today. In those days each one had different shops that brought individuality to each town or community.