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It's late on a winter's day and it's getting dark. You're back in
the reign of Queen Victoria; you're peering through the Shop Front of
Garton & King the Ironmongers at 190 High Street in the city of
All manner of goods are on display in the Shop
windows, kitchen utensils, plated wares, wrought iron goods, paints,
lacquers, cutlery & pans and trivetts - the list goes on. Its cold
and wet outside and the shop looks bright, warm and inviting. You push
against the polished brass door handle and immediately hear the jingle
of the bell. The floor is wooden and and worn; there is a heady mix of
smells, the smell of seeds, of turpentine, hessian and leather. The gas
lights hiss and flicker and as you become accustomed to the light you
notice that a variety of items are hung from the ceiling and goods are
stacked at the end of the heavy wooden counters.
step or two into the front shop and you'll notice a central set of
stairs to the upper Showroom Area and to the right a door leading to
the Counting House. This is where the takings are counted; the accounts
are raised and the books kept and made up. Moving further into the shop
and you notice the back wall, to the left is a door signed 'Machine
Room' - to the right of this is a door leading to an outside central
passageway which takes you back into the bowels of the premises.
through the door and down the alleyway.To the left a small toilet
marked 'Customers Only' and a door to the right leads into an extensive
and packed room displaying all the different models of stoves and
ranges - from the massive Exonian Range to the small and compact
A pace or two more down the corridor and on
the left is the doorway to 'The Spade Room' here are all manner of
forks, spades, rakes shovels and hoes, some with and some without their
wooden handles which appear to come in an assortment of lengths styles
Beyond this door are two more doors.The one to
the right leads to an area full of a large variety of goods, some
wrapped and labelled, others neatly packaged or in sacks. Looking in to
the room on the left of the passage are benches with large reels of
brown wrapping paper and sharp blades against which you tear off the
required length for wrapping the multitude of small goods. There are
coils of string, lengths of sacking and there is a a distinctive sort
of sisally smell as well as the odour of sealing wax.
this on the left is the Paint Store - oil paints, tar paints, enamels,
bottles of methylated spitits, casks of linseed oil and a whole host of
tins, drums, barrels and kegs.
The last door on the right
before the substantial door that leads to Waterbeer Street is the Nail
Store - not just nails - screws, brads, carriage bolts, square bolts,
round bolts, nuts, rivets, chains, machine screws - the list is endless
- and this is just at ground level!
So take a trip back in time and scan through just a fraction of the sort of goods you could see and buy back during the 1860s, 70s and 80s - enter the premises of Garton & King ...