Shopping Little Shops that Serve the City Magnates by Chris Long
Time & Tide June 1979
For three million commuting City workers, 'bringing home the bacon' means a lot more than earning a living from the intricate and impenetrable mysteries of stocks, shares, banking, broking and commodities. Because London's famous 'square mile' is more than just one of the world's financial centres: more than just a lure for tourists. Among Wren's famous churches, from St Paul's to the Tower, little shops and ancient markets line the streets that the Romans first laid down. Though many have been forced out by high costs and high-rise developments, little shops still supply everything from business suits to bacon.
By Christopher Long
Typical of these traditional shops is Merebonn Ltd at 1 Philpott Lane, famous for its own special blend of teas and coffees. Little has changed since it was first established early this century.
Its reputation and rich aroma of freshly ground coffee draw devotees from far and wide. Manager Ian Roper has developed a wide range of health foods and top-quality confectionery (including Bendicks chocolate and truffles from Prestat). However I recommend his teas and coffees, such as the high roast 'Continental' for breakfast (£2.08 per lb.) and medium roast 'Java' after dinner (£2.32 per lb.).
Mr Roper, an archer and Byzantine expert, thinks his 'Kenya Peaberry' at £2.44 is the best anywhere, but I suggest that working through his blends could become quite as absorbing as Byzantine art.
Across the road, Austin Reed have an interesting range of new summer casual clothes for men. The City boasts tailors and outfitters of all sorts, but Austin Reed must be the easiest place to shop in. Very light weight, golfing-style, cotton and polyester jackets should be very popular. Worn over straight, narrow fitting, safari-style shirts, they should look good and feel good whether you play golf or not.
The shirts range from £17 (short-sleeved) to £19 (long sleeved) while the jackets are from £25 to £35. Also good value is a reversible style at £39. Colours are predominantly green, but also in blues, greys and browns.
Traditional three-piece suits are back too. Manager Mr Nutter expects brisk trade in the Cue range of plain, stylish suits at around £105 to £110, which would go well with shoes I saw at Russell & Bromley (72 Queen Victoria Street), which combine a slip-on shoe with a traditional toe-cap, £19.95 in black only.
Finding a special present for 'him' or 'her' is quickly solved, I found, by a visit to Asprey's at 153 Fenchurch Street. Director Norman Harding was full of ideas. Stylish silk scarves are a winner every time, he assured me, but I was very taken by an exquisite, fine, 18ct. gold chain with a single diamond hanging from it (price £615). In return the lady of my life might buy me a very smart black leather pocket book containing a wafer-thin Sharp calculator at £65. Or a superb, fully-bound, tooled leather edition of 'The Pooh Books' (one of many titles) at £80. If she really loves me, what man would say no to one of Asprey's beautiful black leather document cases with combination locks at £240?
If she doesn't love me quite that much, then a visit to Whims, at 70 Cannon Street, might solve the gift problem. Whims have a good selection of glass, leather goods and china. Particularly appropriate, in the City, is the appearance of those familiar and loveable Homepride men whose bowler-hatted figures have been grading grains for finer flour since Adam was a lad.
They now feature in a new range of kitchen accessories: as salt and pepper pots at £1.50 a pair; a large household thermometer at £4; key-rings at 90p and kitchen flour graders inevitably at £2.40. They will soon be appearing on aprons and PVC bags as well.
Across the City at 120 Cheapside is another fascinating shop. John Donald is one of the country's leading designers of sophisticated and unusual jewellery for men and women. Working in gold, precious stones and pearls, John Donald has won many awards for his work.
One piece I admired was a honeycomb necklet in gold, diamonds and emeralds with a detachable clip. Inspired by the story of Daedalus who gave his daughter a golden honeycomb with golden bees, it is a good example of his creative and inventive genius.
He welcomes commissions for rings and other jewellery from anyone with even a modest budget. His styles are timeless and original at prices from £100 to £10,000 or more.
Don't miss a trip to the famous Leadenhall Market. Built in 1881, the ornate steel and glass covered market makes shopping an adventure with beautiful displays of fruit at Cooks (No 35), fish at Ashdowns (No 24) and cheeses at Marsh's (No 13). The pampered pooch will find all his needs catered for at Ruzbridge (No 37), while the many butchers make 'taking home the bacon' very easy tucked into my Asprey document case of course!
© (1979) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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