The minimum shop

The Shop London Transport 1937

The golden age of London Transport design has been well documented and reproduced in luscious poster and design books. Shelf Appeal has quite a few of those books on the shelf. Shelf Appeal has even more books on the history of shops, particularly from the years between the wars.

This image popped up in the book Smaller Retail Shops, published by The Architectural Press in 1937. In amongst the distraction of all the modernist shop front stories, a London Transport ‘shop’ of automatic machines. They name it “The Minimum Shop” which is a lovely conceit.

In The Shop the machines appear to be selling cigarettes, matchbooks and gum. What looks like a weighing machine is in the middle. To the right of the machines some lovely posters tease our eye. I don’t know about everyone else, but stand aside because the ‘Moss Bros, Covent Garden’ poster is mine. Although I am sure the Eno’s posters are equally nice.

If this was Covent Garden tube station, The Shop must be long gone, for they can hardly handle people in their small space there these days. Never mind inviting you to stop and look for change for a pack of gum and to weigh yourself.



A cracking photo and a reminder of how far we’ve slipped in LU. It looks more like a sub-surface station as it has straight walls (but could be the subways at say Turnpike Lane)- and the Carter’s Poole tiling – Aldgate East had a similar set up (and indeed the LT Collection has the triangular ‘Auto Shop’ sign from there as I recall salvaging it! KX/StP and Uxbridge also had similar set ups integrated into the design.The centrepeice is indeed a weighing machine and on a couple of stations, Loughton and Turnpike Lane for example, the base you stood on that looks like an inspection plate in the platform surface is still there to be seen! Another joy to the right – one of the bronze toned ‘Holden’ designed litter bins, all removed during the fire/security frenzy and now replaced by yellow hoops and plastic bins that shriek of design failure…


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