London's oldest shops

Next time you mull over what the recession has done to your business, take inspiration from these shops in London which are over 100 years old and still going strong

1. DR Harris & Co

Dr Harris

Selling quintessential English products for over 200 years, perfumer and chemist Dr. Harris & Co is not only the official chemist to the Prince of Wales but also the place to spot celebrities, MPs or ambassadors picking up perfumes, shaving brushes and aftershaves.

The shop might be a small and traditional-style business in many ways, but it has some lucrative deals under it’s belt. The British Airways first-class kit featuring the shop’s own brand of crystal eye gel, cucumber & roses cleanser / moisturiser, lip balm, moisture cream and skin tonic, comes straight out of one London’s oldest shops.

DR Harris & Co, 29 St James’s St, W1 (020 7930 3915) Green Park tube.

2. L Cornelissen & Son

When Prince Charles’ car neeeded a lick of paint L Cornelissen & Son was the first point of stop. From niche art materials to a great variety of easels, paint brushes and colours, this apothecary-like shop has been in business since 1855. With legendary painter Lucian Freud, The Times cartoonist Peter Brooks and Damien Hirst counted as customers, it has become a mecca for artists around the world. The shop’s director, Nicholas Walt, told us how this 100-year-old business has braved economic downturns to remain a leader of its field.

L Cornelissen & Sons, 105 Great Russell St, WC1 (020 7636 1045) Tottenham Court Rd.

3. W Martyn

This old-fashioned and proud family business still counts the change back into customers hands. Located in Muswel Hill, the coffee shop was founded in 1863 by W Martyn, after he decided to up sticks and leaving Devon for the big city. The cafe began life as a grocery shop selling household goods and redefined itself as a ‘tea and coffee specialist and retailer of fine foods’ much later after the the fashion for coffee in London gained momentum.

Martyn, an ambitious businessman, opened two other stores in Golders Green and Finchley. These were run by his sons, but closed when the sons retired in the mid ’50s. Current owner William Martyn, the great grandson of the founder, says he hopes the shop will remain in the family and that people enjoy its quaint ambience.

W Martyn, 135 Muswell Hill Broadway, N10 (020 8883 5642) Highgate tube then 43, 102, 134, 144, W7 bus.

4. AJ Kennedy’s

AJ Kennedy’s hasn’t put down its meat cleavers since 1877. Touted as ‘one of the oldest shops left on Deptford High Street’, it has been selling meat using traditional manufacturing procedures and recipes that haven’t changed in more than 100 years. 

If its sign that reads “Please queue here and wait your turn” is anything to go by, Kennedy’s has got customers pouring in round the clock. Although its Peckham Rye shop has now been closed, branches in Camberwell, Walworth, Herne Hill and Bromley are still very loud and proud. 

AJ Kennedy’s, 64-66 Deptford High St, SE8 (020 8692 2384) New Cross tube/rail.

5. Arthur Beale

Set up 110 years ago, this shop is Disneyland for maritime enthusiats. A pandora box of ropes, bells and buoys of every shape, type and size, this shop has a group of specialists helping you out with the reel of rope, ship bell or barometer you need for your voyage at sea. What else? Buy books, boots and lifejackets and visit a small workshop down in the basement if you fancy being the captain of the ship.

Arthur Beale, 194 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2 (020 7836 9034) Tottenham Court Rd tube

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