Historic High Streets Community Exhibition – Elmbridge Museum

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Rogers of Weybridge Radio TV and Household appliances - Crowd looking at televisions in shop window Walton High Street

Crowd looking at televisions in Rogers & Sons shop window, Walton High Street, c.1950s

Elmbridge Borough Council
Elmbridge Museum Esher Surrey

Do you want to support your local high street? Then Elmbridge Museum needs you!

In this 1950s snapshot of Walton-on-Thames High Street (above), a throng of women and men is gathered, frozen in fascination, around a shop window. The scene is intriguing – and not just because the concept of people grouped closely together has become so foreign in recent months.

The photograph effortlessly depicts the excitement of the onlookers. All had eagerly gathered, long after sunset (something not so easily visible from the photo!), to peer in at the new, cutting-edge technology which featured in the Rogers & Sons shop window. The modern devices on display, which transmitted moving images and sounds onto small screens, were otherwise known as televisions. They would soon be making their way into homes across Britain in their thousands.

As is signalled on their store front, Rogers & Sons originated as a successful family business in Weybridge. The store began at number 56 Weybridge High Street, as a garage, motor and cycle shop. After a boom in business and the acquisition of R. Seaman & Sons butchers shop next door in the 1930s, they expanded their offer to include the sale of radios, gramophones and other technology across multiple outlets. Sadly, the shops never made it into the new century, with both branches closing in the late 1900s. The Walton shop building is now occupied by Rentstart, a charity helping local Elmbridge people who are homeless. The Weybridge store was knocked down, and later redeveloped into the current Waitrose site.

The scene in the photo captures a unique glimpse into one fleeting and never-to-be-recreated moment in history. This one image alone has heaps to tell us about the former appearance, usage and character of our local Elmbridge high streets, from the many things that have changed – the fashions, companies, and social distancing practices, to name but a few – to the things that have remained the same.

Since being taken, the photo has been stored away safely in Elmbridge Museum’s huge collection of 43,000 images, objects and memories. But the story it tells is just one among a colourful mosaic of experiences and personalities which, put together, make up the vibrant history our borough’s local high streets.

Rogers & Sons Ltd store front in Weybridge High Street
Rogers & Sons Ltd store front in Weybridge High Street
Interior of Rogers & Sons store Weybridge branch c1950s
Interior of Rogers & Sons Radio & TV store Weybridge branch c1950s

Now, Elmbridge Museum needs your help to reveal the full story!

Our latest exhibition, opening in March 2021 at Esher High Street’s Civic Centre, will look at the changing identities of high streets across Elmbridge, as well as the people who have influenced them. By gathering a variety of contributions from our local community, we’ll look at both ‘then’ and ‘now’, tracking the evolution of the high street from the 50s, 60s and 70s right up to the present day.

Rogers' van parked with Address System for a local event. C.1930s
Rogers’ van parked with public address system for a local event. C.1930s

If you have memories, personal photographs, videos, or even objects which relate to the distant or recent history of any Elmbridge High Street, then we’d love to hear from you.

Your contribution will help to curate the online exhibition, and could even end up going on display.

After what has been a tough year, you’ll be helping to support and raise awareness for the brilliant work of a number of independent businesses which have been with us over the years, as well as making a valuable contribution to the museum’s digital collection. If you’ve always wanted to help curate an exhibition, then this project is for you!

Rogers & Sons Ltd store front in Weybridge High Street
Rogers & Sons Ltd in Weybridge High Street second from the far right – This is now site of Waitrose & Partners Supermarket
Elmbridge Borough Council
Elmbridge Museum Esher Surrey

Contact Elmbridge Museum

For more information on how to take part, please contact Elmbridge Museum:

Phone: 01372 474 568 Please mention the All About Weybridge website

Email: ebcmuseum@elmbridge.gov.uk

Closing date for submissions: 21st January 2021

Walton on Thames Rogers TV and Radio store
The Walton branch of Rogers & Sons store – including the shop window display that the crowd of people are looking at in the main (top of page) image