Friday, 3 August 2007

News from Hull

A few years ago Railtrack sent me out photographing anything that appealed to me on their vast estate, most of which was news to them when I came back three months later. One treasure was this original W.H.Smith sign at Hull Paragon station. The shop was part of the old booking hall and looked ready to be demolished. Amazingly I didn't go and get the toolbag out of the car, but when I got home I rang up the estates department at W.H. Smith's and told them they ought to preserve it at all costs. I got the audio equivalent of a blank stare and wished I hadn't bothered.

The company has conserved art nouveau tiles advertising maps and books at Great Malvern, and the exterior of their Stratford-upon-Avon branch is worth looking at. And if you're ever passing through Grand Central Station in New York check-out the W.H. Smith kiosk. When I sauntered through there in 1986 the fascia was still in the familiar stained wood and metal letters, and the magazines were hung up in regimented order with bulldog clips. It could have been Leicester London Road station in 1955.

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