Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Step Back 140 Years...

Arriving at my shop yesterday morning, I really felt like I had travelled back in time to around 1870.
All the shop signs have now been painted by skilled sign writers ready for the filming to start today.
The attention to detail is fabulous, with even the existing shops on the Market Place being given an authentic Victorian looking sign above their doors.
If only the original and awfully dated (in a bad way!) Dollond and Aitchison sign could be permanently left with this far more stylish stage set one after the BBC leave town! ;-))
Even some of Shepton's empty shops have been given an identity.
Yesterday was an exciting day in more ways than one. The local shop keepers were invited on a tour of the shops and flats that will be used in the programmes. Of course I didn't need to be asked twice and jumped at the chance to have a look around yesterday afternoon.

Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos inside, as they didn't want any images leaking onto the Internet before the families that will be running the shops for the show come to Shepton today, to move in. I think they want to film their reaction to the authenticity of it and the realisation that they will have to live and work just as the Victorian families did a century or so ago.
One of the flats had two sparsely furnished bedrooms, with beautiful iron beds and a few tasteful ornaments - no carpets, but sumptuous William Morris style papers covering the walls, complete with dado rails. The main living room had several chairs around a coal burning stove. In one corner of the room was an alcove where food preparation was done - no luxury of a separate kitchen! All the family's cooking will have to be done on the iron stove.

I really was totally amazed by the attention to detail that has been lavished on the shops and homes, just for an hour long episode. After this, the shops will be given a quick turnaround to reflect retailing in the Edwardian era.
Many of the artifacts that they will be using are genuine, but also some have had to be built from scratch, such as the fabulous bread oven at the back of the bakery. The room was very dimly lit and hot and stuffy. I can't imagine what it will be like to work in there when the oven is lit and has to be kept going over night. The general public will be able to go shopping in the shops - Bread, for example, will be priced relative to Victorian prices, when the daily loaf was an expensive item.
The general grocers (the green/brown shop I've shown near the top of this post) was my favourite. The produce on the shelves was fairly limited, as packaged goods weren't readily available in the Victorian era, unlike today. The products that are there have had to be chosen carefully by the BBC, who cannot blatantly advertise on their channels. Also, with copyright, they have had to get special permission from the manufacturers to re-print labels. Years ago labels didn't include a list of ingredients, so anyone purchasing any of these products this week will have to be given a separate leaflet showing all of these to comply with modern regulations! (examples include Prices candles, Lea & Perrings Worcestershire Sauce and Bovril)
Incidentally, you will be served by the man of the family, as women were expected to do all of the work at the back of the shop!

Moving on to the butchers; the metal grilles to the right, with the lovely canopy above fold out onto the street. This is so the butcher can serve the public through the hatch and they don't need to enter his shop. This will be run by an already qualified butcher, but he will have to work with the same methods employed by a Victorian butcher of the time. We were taken down stairs to the cellar, where a cool box had been built. It was a large shed like construction which had been totally lined in metal. A huge block of ice was stored inside and was already doing a perfect job as an early fridge.

To the left of the butchers shop is the Ironmongers. Also shown in the photo below is the original Shambles, which are always on the Market Place and are the remains of the old market stalls. (There would have once been many more of them.)

The ironmongers shop will be run by a single man who has already trained as a blacksmith. I believe he will be asked to take orders for items to make this week. Inside the shop it is filled with tools and finished products such as metal umbrella stands and birdcages.
Some shops, such as the ironmongers, wouldn't have expected to survive the whole century, so this shop may well close down and another shop with different merchandise will take its place later in the series.

Further up the road at a secret location, an entire forge has been built where the blacksmith will also be able to work, producing his iron work. We were all totally overwhelmed by the sight of this huge work area that had been created on some scrubby waste ground behind the shops, complete with all the necessary tools, anvil and furnace. Also unbelievably, was an entire garden with flower borders and veg patches on the same site. Apparently work had begun back in March to turn the waste ground into a very flourishing garden. The vegetables were looking in prime condition, all growing in very neat rows, peas were entwined around birch twigs and sweet peas grew up large wigwags of tree branches.
How wonderful if this garden could later be used by the local school children perhaps?, rather than it all being lost.

Existing Hairtech, next to the ironmongers, with its new sign.

In honour of the BBC's arrival, I decided to arrange a Victorian window display in my shops front window. I included two flat irons and a trivet, a black metal hat box and ostrich plumes, Victorian portrait photographs, and a china clock surround decorated with roses, that I found at the weekend.
After that I had a man wander into my shop yesterday. His wife quickly grabbed him and told him he wasn't allowed inside as it was part of the BBC's film set. I had to quickly jump in and tell her that 'no, I was a real shop, not part of the scenery, and I was definitely open for business!'
Hope that doesn't happen too often!

A water pump has been erected on the market place, next to the original 1600's fountain - Could you tell the difference between the real stone work and the clever trompe-l'œil?

This pile of goodies are, I imagine, to be part of the market on Sunday. There are old hand carts and barrels to give the Market Place even more authenticity.
I find it quite staggering that after a few days of filming, everything will be changed to reflect the next era, as we fast forward over 6 programmes to the 1970's, to document a century of retailing and how it has changed and compares to the modern way retailing is carried out today. I do hope the programme will get people thinking about using their local high streets again. At the moment I am loving the Mary Portas (Mary Queen of Shops) BBC2 programme, as I can identify with her ideas and also the struggle that small independent retailers face. She is fabulous!

Enough of my ramblings for now - Except to say if you happen to be anywhere near Shepton Mallet on Sunday, please can you come and visit the Special BBC Market which will be filmed as part of the new series? I'm sure the atmosphere will be magical and you may well feel as if you have been transported back in a time machine to an era where hardships were more prevalent, but a community spirit was far more in evidence.
Niki x

Monday, June 28, 2010

Its Been a Good Year for the Roses...

I had two special visitors to my shop on Saturday - Maria and Sergio, who I have mentioned on my blog before, have once again travelled from Italy on their search for all things vintage and rosey! (They were last in England in April, when they were able to visit the Dairy House Textile Day.) As you can perhaps see from the photo below, the shelves of my dresser were somewhat depleted after Maria had finished shopping! ;-))

Although neither of us speak each others language, we manage to get by with our mutual love of old fashioned roses. And a special gift thrown in makes for a very happy meeting! ;-))

Thank you Maria and Sergio - It was a pleasure to see you both again - and I hope you enjoy the rest of your holiday. x

After the lovely couple left my shop, I had to quickly rearrange the shop's shelves so that things didn't appear too empty. I found more china to fill the spaces and soon the dresser looked full again...

It was a very warm day, which had brought lots of people out, so the shop had a lovely atmosphere all day...I love days like that when there is a real buzz in the air. My friend Debbie also called in to see me with a huge bouquet of roses, which I shall show you at the end of this post.



Just jumping around a bit now to Friday - I wanted to show a couple of photos of the market in full swing, which this week had to work around all the BBC activity, as the final touches were being put to the shop fronts.

I promise to only show one more post of the shop makeovers, as I do get the feeling I may be boring you!...
I'll show them when they are completed later in the week, before the filming starts in earnest...

This is the old Pickwicks, which has had a false wall built to the right hand side, complete with a paneled door.
The painting has been started too, so that one isn't far off completion.
Through the market cross you may be just able to see the old bakery on the right, where an old bread oven has been built inside.
Looking just to the right of my shop is the one that will become a Victorian grocers. Vacuum formed plastic brick panels have been added to the facade for a traditional look...

And lots of dark wood paneling for that authentic Victorian feel.

Just a little more to finish off.
The other little shop is the two storey one which has had ornate pillars put up outside...

Not too sure about the red, but suspect it may be an undercoat?

Anyway, as promised, here is the beautiful bouquet given to me by Debbie.
I brought it home on Saturday evening, as I wouldn't be at the shop again until Tuesday to enjoy them. This huge bloom smells of sweet peas...go on, take a sniff! ;-))

It has been a fabulous year for the roses this year, hasn't it?...I'm wondering if that 'proper' winter that we had actually did the garden good and put everything back on an even keel?



Have a fabulous week. I have a busy one preparing for the special market on Sunday. Lots of sewing to get on with, as well as a day at home today sorting out some new vintage stock that I have to take to the shop tomorrow....and I have a cupboard moving marathon to do today as well...which may take some time...
Enjoy the sunshine,
Niki x

Friday, June 25, 2010

Special BBC Market Update

I've been given this poster to display in my shop today. It finalises the details for the special BBC market that I mentioned in the post I added yesterday.
Have a lovely weekend,
Niki x

Thursday, June 24, 2010

News Flash!

(copyright BBC)
It has been confirmed to me today by Wall to Wall (a Shed Media Group Company) who are making the new series for BBC TV in Shepton Mallet this summer, that there is to be a special market on Sunday 4th July, organised by them. It will take place on the old Market Place and be a part of the first programme set in the 1870's. It is my understanding that there will be traditional Victorian style stalls set up as part of the set, but mixed with modern stalls where customers can shop. (Preliminary plans are for it to run from 9am until around 2pm - to be confirmed) The Victorian stalls will be used in the programme, with the modern ones used to create background and atmosphere and a proper shopping environment.
I have been asked to have a stall at this special market and have been told that I can have a pitch outside my shop. My eldest daughter has agreed to come home from Aberystwyth to open and run my shop so that it can be open as a one-off for a Sunday, whilst I man my stall outside...I hope to find the time to make a few new items for my stall before then as well as finding some pretty authentic vintage pieces.
I think other stalls will include antiques, crafts and special foods such as cupcakes. If you happen to be in the area on July 4th, I hope you'll stop by and say hello! - You never know, you might just end up on TV! ;-))
There has been more progress made today with the alterations to the shop fronts (as mentioned in my post below), so I shall try to show some more photos of them soon. Its been a tough day for me to get through today, as I've been struck with the fluey/virus that's going around, but tomorrow's another day...
My grateful thanks go to Sarah (one of my sweet regular visitors) for this pretty bouquet of roses that she picked from her garden for me (and the shop!) today - thank you Sarah! ;-))
And finally Id just like to add this photo sent to me by Jan who came to visit my shop with her sister a few weeks ago all the way from the USA! That's Billie, Jan and me outside Nostalgia at No.1 - taken by their friend Ros. Ros had been a great guide to them by the sounds of things, all around France (I do so love it there too!) and the UK...(including taking them to the lovely shop in Dinan that I wrote a long post about last year)...only to find it closed until July! - Such a shame! Anyway, hope you have better luck on your next trip ladies, as I know you'll be back there one day...And at least I had the great pleasure of meeting you all!
Niki x