Mapped: The High Street Shops That Started Out In London

By M@ Last edited 89 months ago

Last Updated 18 January 2017

Mapped: The High Street Shops That Started Out In London
WH Smith has been around longer than most high street chains. In this Londonist Flickr pool photo by Andrew Smith, it looks positively Cretaceous.

Where do you suppose Waitrose started out? You might guess Hampstead or Dulwich or some other bastion of the upper-middle class. But no. It was good old Acton, in 1904. Tesco, meanwhile, started life in the uncelebrated district of Burnt Oak, back in 1931.

Many of the nation's high street mainstays began life in London. HMV, Debenhams and WH Smith all debuted within a stone's throw of one another. A single road in Croydon — Purley Way — gave us both the first Homebase and the first PC World. And they say Croydon is not exciting.

The first Tesco, in Burnt Oak — now a branch of Savers. Via Google Street View.

And there appears to be some kind of SW-NE ley line of commerce connecting the birthplace of Mothercare (Kingston), Superdrug (Putney), Waterstones (Brompton), Monsoon (Knightsbridge), WH Smith (Mayfair) and Wallis (Islington).

The map follows on from our earlier plot of the first branches of famous food chains. We've embedded that again below for reference.

Do let us know in the comments if we've missed anything important off either map. Note, we've left off major department stores like Harrods and Selfridges as these are limited to a small number of stores.