Freeman Hardy Willis facia Rotherham

A high street name which has I think now disappeared for good, though like all such brands, the rights may well have been sold off and could reappear sometime. The FHW name dates back to 1875 and there were well over 500 shops by the 1990s when the owners decided to convert around half to another name and then sell the remaining FHW shops. These were bought by a dodgy Sheffield ‘business man’ (my partner worked in one of his garages briefly back in the 80s and it was clear even then that his methods were very iffy; she quit after being asked to account for cars which didn’t exist) with cash he didn’t actually have, and when he was finally collared, the business ended in 1996.
It’s interesting how quickly such long established shops vanish, leaving very little behind to show for over 130 years of trading. Yet seven years after it closed, the Rotherham branch on the original High Street still bore at least a few faded traces of signage from the interesting Sixties re-build when I took this photograph. The High Street, some of which still carries elements of the original timber framed buildings, has since been given a bit of a make-over, encouraged by a local authority desperate to throw off some of the negative publicity surrounding the town. Pop-up windows, a lick of paint, a couple of shabby chic dealers, etc. attempt to aid regeneration of a very attractive piece of townscape, so even this ghost image has now been covered over. Down the road the far-right obsessives were being herded along by dozen of Police vans on one of their now apparently regular Saturday forays into town. There is a long way to go.

FHW box lid


3 thoughts on “Freeman Hardy Willis

  1. Hi S,
    FHW were a high street name that felt like it had been around for ever and would last forever. There was something reassuring about their presence. I remember that it didn’t seem possible to buy a pair of shoes without an assistant wanting to measure your feet and checking the sizing was correct. Then before completing the sale the shoes would be re-boxed with tissue paper and they would of course ask if you wanted polish or stain guard or some other extras.
    I also remember in the 80’s Ravel shoe shops although I don’t know their history. I think they were fashion trendy rather than a traditional shoe shop. There was a rather odd story attached to one particular Ravel shop that was being refitted. Every pair of shoes from the store were thrown in a skip to make way for new stock. Each pair were rendered unwearable before being put in the skip. They had straps cut or leather slashed so that no one would want to remove them. I found it shocking that they were binned rather than offering them to a charity.
    Back to the theme of your blog post – Below is a link to an image of the FHW shop on the Moor in Sheffield, taken three or four years ago. It is madly over processed but still worth sharing…
    Mr C 🙂

    • I know the name Ravel but don’t recall ever using them. Mostly it’s been Clarke’s for me, with a pair of handmade black suede shoes I once purchased after getting a design bill paid being one of my joys! Those were the days.

  2. Pingback: Regeneration | easy on the eye

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s