Historic Shopfront expert Dr Lindsay Lennie recently carried out a study of twenty shopfronts in Elgin High Street Conservation Area.
The main aims of the study were to assess the value and significance of surviving 1930s shopfronts and a number of later 19th and 20th century shops. In addition, common characteristics such as stained glass at the top of windows, pavement lights, bronze window frames and cast iron grilles were identified. This helps to provide local distinctiveness and contributes to the character of the townscape. A number of threats to the shopfronts were also identified including poor signage and lack of maintenance of specialist materials. Suggestions to support conservation and enhancement include use of hand painted lettering for signs, restoration of traditional blinds and specialist repairs to materials such as bronze, chrome, cast iron and stained glass.
Of particular note in Elgin is the Burton’s shopfront. Burton’s made a significant contribution to townscapes across the UK with their prominent positions and high quality materials. The first shop was opened in 1904 by Montague Burton, a Lithuanian immigrant who by the late 1930’s had around 600 shops and tens of thousands of employees. The survival of the frontage in Elgin which was officially opened in 1936, although slightly altered, is exceptional and therefore has considerable historical significance. Few other original Burton’s frontages survive.