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.)
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.
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.