Monday, July 25, 2011

London through its charity shops #12: Kingston

Though originally in Surrey, Kingston-upon-Thames is now part of Greater London.

Considering it's basically one big concrete shopping centre, it's surprising there aren't more charity shops there. There are two on Castle Street; an average Oxfam and a colourful if below par FARA. Around the corner on Fife Road is an uninspiring Princess Alice Hospice shop. It's possible I've been in these charity shops hundreds of times and never bought a thing. Next to the falling down telephone boxes sculpture, designed by David Mach and possibly the only interesting thing in Kingston (okay, I'm being a bit harsh; there's still a few fine old buildings left in the 'historic market town' but mostly the place has become pretty homogeneous) is a small Oxfam Books. There are two more Princess Alice shops nearby – one for furniture, the other for children. And I made a discovery only recently – there's a Cancer Research on Eden Street; it's very nice, clean and well-organised with well stocked book and CD shelves.

Here are some interesting Kingston cultural facts: the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, credited with being the precursor of moving film, was born there; Three Men in a Boat begins in Kingston; it makes an appearance in The War of the Worlds; a character in Austen's Emma often visits Kingston; a character in DH Lawrence's The Rainbow dreams of a job in Kingston, presumably in a time when the town had some character; a whole episode of TV programme Primeval was filmed in the Bentall Centre... some of these fascinating facts were gleaned from Wikipedia.


Mel said...

I can imagine Primeval being filmed in the Bentall Centre - it's a pretty scary place.

I have got some bargains from Kingston's charity shops including a brand new White Stuff skirt for a fiver. It's a great place to shop but sadly that's pretty much all Kingston is now - a vast shopping centre. However, the river's still quite nice there - good walk along it to Hampton Court.

Anonymous said...

Surbiton is often better for charity shop shopping