Plenty of people were sad when Wanstead’s charmingly odd Andrews Builders Merchants shut up shop. Like something from the Two Ronnies, it stood out alone, boxy and weird with a painted sign from decades past.
The sign survived the shop by a year or so, but ended up in a skip during renovations by the shop’s new owner, who was unaware of the sentimental attachment many in Wanstead had for it.
There is, though, a happy ending to this story. With high streets beset by chains, charity shops and closures, to say nothing of shop fronts with garish internally illuminated Perspex boxes, the curiosity of the spot has been – remarkably and wonderfully – preserved.
So welcome, everyone, the Wanstead Fabric Merchants. Congratulations to Geoff Rosenberg and family, the enlightened proprietors who employed Wanstead’s one-woman-smarter-high-street campaign, Gabrielle Collard, to design the new shop front.
While the painted window design gives the new shop a cool edge, the new sign could be a definition of sympathetic redevelopment. Wooden, with the same proportions, similar wording and style, yet with reversed colours to emphasise the changes.
All in all, a good day for the character and diversity of Wanstead. Let’s hope Geoff’s bravery is rewarded.