In pictures: The shop that time forgot

Matilda Battersby
Thursday 03 February 2011 01:03

There's a shop in a small village in rural Scotland which still sells boxes of goods marked with pre-decimal prices which may well have been placed there 80 years ago.

This treasure trove of a hardware store sells new products too. But its shelves, exterior haven't changed for years; its contents forgotten, dust-covered and unusual, branded with the names of companies long since out of business.

Photographer Chris Frears has immortalised this shop further on film. Here he explains a bit about the pictures and why this time capsule of an outlet is so compelling:

Click on the image above for pictures of the shop that time forgot

The shop is actually in our village near the Nith Valley, Dumfriesshire. When I arrived with my camera and explained what I wanted to do, it was quite funny really because Hugh, the older guy in the picture, disappeared downstairs to brush his comb-over and put his blue jacket on.

It’s the sort of place you go when you want something that’s made in Britain which will last. These days so many people go to Homebase and B&Q. But if you go to this shop and Hugh turns around and tells you “It canna be got,” which has become a local name for the place, then you really know it can’t be. I wanted an old fashioned tin opener recently, so that’s where I went.

I think Hugh knows to a certain extent that, as much as they are stuck in the past, they have something special there. To him it’s nothing. He’s a bit eccentric. His daughter Elizabeth, also in the pictures, bought herself a laptop after Christmas. But she keeps it at home. They don’t have computers in the shop.

David has worked there for 25 years. I went in and took the pictures of Hugh and Elizabeth, and David, who’d previously said he wanted no part in it, said to me afterwards, said “Oh go on, just take one of me then.” And that’s when I photographed him with the gas lamp. He had trouble staying still and kept laughing.

Elizabeth is the third generation of the family to work in the shop. It’s been in their possession since 1929. The clock in the pictures does not work, which is, I think, quite typical of the shop. To be honest, I think the clock is as old as the shop.

I’m thinking of doing a series of other shops that time has forgotten. It’s a cliché but we’re supposed to be a nation of shopkeepers. But we’re not. Instead we’re a nation of high street chains.

For more of Chris Frear's work you can visit

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