Monday, April 27, 2009

Shop Of The Week

How I miss the old London Routemasters...fond memories of travelling to school in the Elephant and Castle each day with a walkman the size of a house brick and the smell of eau de Silk Cut wafting around on the top deck...

Nothing beats the sense of excitement of trying to jump on at the lights, hanging on for dear life to the handrail and watching the grumpy conductors shoving prams in the cubby hole under the stairs.

I also remember the bad times, like when my sister slipped off the platform at Kennington and ended up dislocating her leg, showing her knickers to the whole of South London. Sadly, like my youth, they are gone; big red dinosaurs consigned to museums and the occasional private trip to the seaside.

It is with great pleasure, therefore, that this week's Shop of The Week promises to deliver that shot of nostalgia in spades. London Transport Original Signs is the place to get your fix of transport yesteryear. Run by the fantabulous Haydn, LTOS is a vertitable treasure trove of signs and memorabilia from both the bus system and London Underground.

It's been a lifelong passion for Haydn, starting with his first acquisition of a handful of old enamel signs, rescued from a derelict factory not long after the war. But transport was always going to be in his blood; both his parents were conductors and many of Haydn's earliest memories revolve around the sights and smells of those times.

These days Haydn's mind bogglingly huge collection is sold through prestigious lifestyle boutiques but do yourself a favour and get them straight from the source. Not only will you get a large dose of charm and personal service, you also get the opportunity to have them framed (by the wonderful Steve) and delivered at a fraction of the other shops' prices. I am lucky enough to have several of these beauties framed and displayed in our house, including an old Northern Line diagram and a Not In Service sign which I have chosen to hang over the bed as a postmodern form of contraception...

Aswell as orginal bus blinds and signs, the site has a wealth of great London Underground pieces which make wonderful gifts. Not only are they a remarkable and unique piece of our social history, they can also serve to remind you of a particular time in your life. Whether it's the station where you first met your partner, or where you got off for the football, you are sure to find it here.

Like Haydn himself, the actual site is abit of an oddity (and I mean that in the nicest of ways!). There's none of the slick graphics that you might be used to, infact it's abit like a rummage sale where you have to trawl for its infinite treasures. For me, though, this is part of its charm and with enthsiastic feedback from all four corners of the globe you can be assured that you won't be disappointed.

And don't forget that these are original pieces, and won't be manufactured again. Love them for their smells and their stains, for the sense of the stories they tell, because once they are gone, they are gone....

All images via London Transport Original Signs
Title Image via Google Images

A wonderful picture of Haydn's mum in all her finery, June 1943.

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