Wednesday, January 11, 2012

London through its charity shops #18: Pimlico

I have alighted at Pimlico tube station to visit Tate Britain many, many times over the years. I always thought Pimlico, in Westminster SW1, was a quaint, quiet residential area with a few cafes – I never realised there were actual shops there. But having heard good things about its charity shops I decided it was worth investigating.

From Pimlico tube station, the best way to approach Pimlico's charity shops (though many of them seem to be geographically closer to Victoria tube) is to head along Tachbrook Road until you hit a small food market. On the left is a FARA Kids, small but bright and colourful. Keep going then turn left onto Warwick Way; on the opposite side of the road is a regular if pretty chic FARA. Like with a lot of its shops now, there's a downstairs with media and bric-a-brac. Upstairs is a good selection of clothes. Likewise Oxfam, a few doors along, has a downstairs with lots of DVDs, books, CDs and mainly classical records and an upstairs with men's and women's clothes.

Round the corner on Wilton Way is a very nice-looking Trinity Hospice, well-arranged with a slightly vintage vibe to it, also selling knitting wool and accessories. Round another corner on Upper Tachbrook Road is yet another FARA branch – this one called Retromania and selling mainly vintage clothes, though also some records, books and nick-nacks. It's a beautiful, fascinating and unique shop; great to have a rummage around in; you'll find everything from retro Chanel space suit outfits (£630) and Alexander McQueen cocktail dresses (£300) to Libertines-style military jackets. I was only allowed to take one photo (tiger and guitar-playing bear in a cage, above) but IDOL magazine has a feature about it along with some nice pics. A bargain basement had books and other paraphernalia for £1 and upwards.

Back onto Warwick Way for a Sue Ryder, quite average by comparison to Retromania and Hospice of Hope, which is a little further along and across the road. A charity shop blog I occasionally look at is Charity Shop Tourism, which found Pimlico – and Hospice of Hope in particular – a bit overwhelming. Certainly, upon first entering you'd think you were going into an exclusive chic boutique and not a charity shop. The black and white floor tiles, tidy, sparse racks of clothes and the shop assistant with a severe bob and a duster in hand, actually dusting her wares as if they were priceless antiques and not secondhand crap, were all a bit foreboding. Especially as I was the only other person in the shop. But it turned out to be quite good, reasonably priced, with a good selection of CDs. And the woman with the bob even smiled at me eventually.

On my way back to the tube station, quite by accident, I came across Crusaid (an HIV and AIDS charity) on Churton Street. Described by one charity shop reviewer as the 'Harvey Nicks of charity shops', it has a fine and funky range of clothes and bric-a-brac. In the back room are lots of records and books. The books are well-arranged with even foreign language and gay sections.

Up until M16 worker Gareth Williams was found dead in a sports bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat in 2010, Pimlico was most famous for the film Passport to Pimlico (1949) – where the neighbourhood declares independence from the rest of Britain – though it was not actually filmed in Pimlico itself but about a mile outside it. Anyway, it's a curious place that for some reason I've always liked. I'm not the first to say Pimlico has an air of faded gentility about it, but it's one of the things I like about the place.

The shopping part of town is a revelation to me, previously only ever gone to Pimlico to visit the Tate. The shops have a nice vibe to them; a bit posh, yes, but also pretty friendly with a village feel to the area. The charity shops are mostly all pretty interesting and unique; a most welcome respite from the usual bland homogeneous high street charity shops.

1 comment :

nikhil said...

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