We're in Glebe St - in 1910 - and the chocolate shop is open

The latest consensus is that this is a shop – or two shops –  at Beachcliff on Penarth Esplanade in 1910.  It looks just the place to drop in to on the way to the seaside

It’s summer, it’s sunny and –  with plenty of light –  the photographer, with his glass plate camera – hasn’t had to ask the staff of this chocolate, tobacco and fancy-goods shop to stand stock-still for too long.

The shop seemed at first glance to be one of  familiar row of Glebe St premises with white-tiled frontages – around  where The Crepe Escape is today. But eagle-eyed PDN readers “Mark G” and “Ben”  have pinned it down to an entirely different location – Beachcliff on Penarth Esplanade (see comments below)

Here in 1910 there’s everything anyone could possibly need for a day out at the seaside. There are butterfly-type nets for fishing in rock pools; there are spades for digging sand castles; there are cricket balls and there are walking sticks which promenaders can ostentatiously twirl around as they parade along the Esplanade.

…And there are postcards to send home to tell everyone what a wonderful time everyone is having in Penarth. …And there are at least six collections of post every day including Sunday from every pillar box in the town ….And if that postcard is posted in the morning it will be delivered in London or Liverpool or Bristol  before tea time the same day.

The window is crammed with souvenirs, purses, baskets, a model yacht, and there could even be a tin steam engine tucked away at the bottom of the outside display.

The shop seems to have a section on the right called “The Cabin“which appears to be a cafe – with a menu or tariff displayed at the door where the louche young man – perhaps the son of the proprietor – is striking a pose. (It was quite common for shops have two different trading areas within them – one right and one left.)

A Fry's Chocolate advertisement of the period

A Fry’s Chocolate advertisement of the period

And here, there’s Fry’s chocolate – guaranteed pure and unadulterated – just like the rival Quaker-run companies of  Cadbury’s and Rowntree’s .

Before the days of ubiquitous coffee shops, hot chocolate and cocoa were not just popular confectionery  but very popular taken as hot drinks made from powdered cocoa. “Cocoa Rooms” were then what coffee shops are today.

Cigarettes and cigars stocked in Glebe St, Penarth in 1910

Cigarettes and cigars stocked in Glebe St, Penarth in 1910

The shop is also a tobacconists and sells cigarettes like Three Castles and Capstan Navy Cut – and Darvel Bay cigars .

There’s a schoolgirl – perhaps the proprietor’s daughter and the young man’s sister – wearing a typical dress and  high-laced boots of the time.

And on the left there’s the proprietor himself –  formally dressed, despite the sunshine, in a long coat,  a bowler hat and a dickie bow – looking justifiably pleased with his shop, his family, his financial prospects and life and times in Penarth.

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  1. AK says:

    Six postal collections a day, and same day delivery.

    How things have progressed……

  2. Mark G says:

    I love these old photo’s!
    Looking at the reflection in the Fry’s Chocolate window, I can see the cast iron panels that currently adorn the pier with the sea beyond? There appears to be 4 people sat under a dome. Did the promenade have any of the same panels as the pier? The wares being displayed outside the shop seem more fitting for the seaside.

    • newsnet says:

      Mark : Good job spotting that reflection – which hadn’t been noticed by anyone until now. There is absolutely zero information with these photographs (apart from the fact that they were taken in Penarth) so all suggestions are welcome – and your guess about the location could well be right.

    • Well done for spotting the cast iron panels. I have looked at the reflection, and believe that the white dome might actually be a glass shade of an interior gas mantle inside the shop. I have had a quick look at such mantles but cannot find one quite the same though.

      • Mark G says:

        I think you’re right, it does look like a lamp shade. It is difficult to tell what’s in the window and what’s a reflection.

  3. Ben says:

    Yes this is where Mr Savage continued to run this shop at Beachcliff on the seafront. It later became Tony’s Seashore Grill before being consumed by the extension of Chandlers run by the Rabbiottis. Now of course James Sommerin’s restaurant.

    • newsnet says:

      Excellent detective work Ben. Thanks a lot.

    • Vince says:

      I believe you are right Ben, the shop on the right was the gift shop next door to The Carlton restaurant and later became Tonys Restaurant and Pizzeria after the first Tonys was taken over by Chandlers as you said.

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