Above: The shop in Westow Hill that was once one of the Cullen’s shops.
In the summer of 2017 members of the Norwood Society completed a most unusual project. They had seen ‘Blue Plaques’ on shops in the Bloomsbury area, recording earlier owners of the properties. Thinking this idea could be applied to the Norwood Triangle, which still has many Victorian shop fronts to be seen, they set about the task of researching earlier owners of the premises. They found a ‘treasure trove’ of interesting shop-owners and set about producing plastic roundels as stickers – based on the design of the well-known Blue Plaques. The next task was to ask those running the premises today to display a plaque.
Some shopkeepers were enthusiastic and readily displayed the plaque in their window. Some took a little persuasion while others either refused or did not respond to the initial written request. Exactly how many plaques are on show in the local shops is not known but it probably exceeds 100.
The so-called Norwood Triangle consists of three streets – part of Church Road, Westow Hill and Westow Street. They form a triangle of streets and endure heavy traffic usage, so much so that the three streets are now one way. Like all neighbourhoods, the shops went into decline in the 1960s and 1970s but the area became ‘re-born’ in the 1990s with many small independent shops emerging along with several food shops and a variety of eateries.
Above: The plaque in the window of the present shop shown at the top of this article.
Looking at the many plaques that have been researched and displayed in the shop windows, a few of them stand out as being of real interest. Here is just a small sample of some of the plaques to be seen in the Norwood Triangle.
23 Church Road – ‘DOLLY VARDEN Milliner traded here 1932-1939’.
62 Church Road – ‘AUGUSTUS GEO EMMS Bicycle Manufacturer traded here 1886-1891’.
6 Westow Hill – was ‘JAMES & WALTER COVELL Butchers by Royal Appointment 1874-1932’.
20 Westow Hill – the site of the once familiar name of ‘J KENNEDY Sausages and Pies traded here 1934-1990’.
80 Westow Hill – the site of another familiar name of ‘W H CULLEN Grocers traded here 1895-1985’ and the shop-front remains in its original state, apart from a change in the colour of the paint.
The Norwood Society and especially the group that worked on the project are to be commended for their creative ideas and the hard work that was obviously necessary to see the project to a conclusion. It certainly has generated local interest which can only be a good thing.