Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Austin's Library, Petersfield

As mentioned in an earlier post about the ironmonger F. A. Allsworth, until the late 1950s Lavant Street was one of Petersfield's main shopping streets. Originally, near the junction with Chapel Street, one could find Llewellyn Eley Bradley's shop. Although according to an article in Petersfield Life he was a jeweller, this is certainly wrong. Indeed other sources and a picture in the collection of Petersfield Museum indicate he sold books, stationery items and a whole range of fancy goods, including toys. Actually one of the toys in Bradley's shop was most certainly the inspiration for Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams. The author of this classic book for children, published in 1938, was born in Petersfield and spent her youth in the Hampshire town. An article in Portsmouth News about that link also includes a copy of the picture of Bradley's shop mentioned above.
As for Llewellyn Bradley, who was born in 1877, he is also remembered for his photographs of Petersfield, several of which were printed as postcards. I have not found what happened to Bradley over time but it appears he sold his business in the early 1930s (possibly earlier). Indeed according to the 1933 edition of The British Book Trade Directory, Austin's Library was trading in lieu of Bradley's. Austin's Library appears on a picture of Lavant Street taken c. 1955 (the first shop on the left) but what happened to it after that date is unknown to me.

The ghost sign, which promoted both businesses, is found round the corner from the shop itself and would have been seen by people coming from the town centre and heading towards the shops of Lavant Street and Chapel Street or going towards the train station at the end of Lavant Street. Since both offered essentially the same services and goods, all that was needed when Austin's Library took over from Bradley's was to change the name on the first line.

Llewelynn Bradley / Austin's
Stationer, Newsagent
Books, Toys & Fancy Goods
-- Library --

Location: Chapel Street, Petersfield, Hampshire / Picture taken in September 2011

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