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Turn Back Time: The High Street - 100 Years of British Life Through the Shop Window [Hardcover]

Philip Wilkinson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: 20.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 Oct 2010

In six hugely entertaining hours of television, BBC One brings the story of the great British high street to life in a major new series for Autumn 2010. At the centre of the programmes are five modern-day shopkeepers and their families, whose challenge will be to run their shops exactly as they would have been run in six key eras of British history, from the 1870s to the 1970s.

The book that accompanies the television series tells the remarkable story of how the rise and fall of the high street transformed all our daily lives, touching on the history of technology, family relationships, work, food, fashion and community that make Britain what it is today. Each chapter vividly retells the story of the evolving high street at that period in time, with special emphasis given to changes in food, fashion, attitudes, jobs and family life.

Illuminated with human interest stories from the programmes and illustrated with hundreds of archive photographs, this is the truly fascinating story of British society over the last century as well as a lavish photographic record of the great British high street in its heyday.


Frequently Bought Together

Turn Back Time: The High Street - 100 Years of British Life Through the Shop Window + Turn Back Time: The High Street [DVD] [2010] + The Victorian Pharmacy [DVD]
Price For All Three: 46.48

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus; TV tie-in ed edition (28 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849164207
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849164207
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 25.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 295,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

From the hard graft of the Victorian era and the excesses of the Edwardians to 'make do and mend' in wartime Britain and the post-war boom, this is the fascinating story of how the shopping streets of Britain have been transformed over the last 140 years. Written to accompany the hit BBC One series, this book explores the ins and outs of life for our 'nation of shopkeepers' as seven tradesmen and women are sent back through history to relive the traditions and challenges that defined a generation of High Street shops. Learn how butchers kept their meat fresh before cellophane and refrigeration, how bakers made bread before sliced loaves, and how grocers kept track of their stock before computers. Discover how shopkeepers coped with 18-hour days in the Victorian era, rationing and blackouts during wartime, and the new technologies of the '60s and '70s that revolutionized retailing. With behind-the-scenes diary entries from the show's shopkeepers, in-depth features on everything from Victorian candle-making to 1970s vinyl collecting, plus expert advice on researching the history of your own local town centre, rediscover what made the High Street the beating heart of our towns and cities in this fascinating look at everyday British life through the decades.

From the Back Cover

How did the Victorians make their daily bread? Why were Edwardian shopkeepers so much more polite than today's? Just how tough was rationing? How many Green Shield Stamps did you need to buy a colour television? And when could one pound feed the whole family for a week? From the boom years of the Victorian High Street to the 1970s supermarket, discover what life was really like on the great British High Street and how shopkeepers and their customers have adapted to both good times and bad. Written to accompany BBC One's living history experiment, Turn Back Time... The High Street charts the extraordinary journey of a group of modern day butchers, bakers, caterers and retailers who run their shops using exactly the same foods, fashions and shopkeeping skills as yesteryear.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This book beautifully recounts the history of our high street, shopping habits and well known brands over the last 100 years. Packed with stunning photos, diary entries and even authentic recipes, it tells us how people lived through the different eras and what influenced their lives. It's a really interesting story and fascinating for young and old alike. If you are enjoying the TV series you'll love this book. Great price too!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A social history with a British shopping theme 10 Aug 2011
By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Mainly covering the 110 year period from 1870 to 1979, this book discusses the changing face of the British High Street through history. This book was written to accompany a BBC TV series (which I did not see) that used the market town of Shepton Mallet in Dorset as its setting. For that series, several shops were temporarily adapted for use as period-style shops. Although many pictures in the book are from the filming that took place in Shepton Mallet, and although some quotes from the participants are used, the book does not give any great detail about the experience.

The book begins with three paragraphs that discuss the making of the TV series. It seems that four shops were involved over a six-week period. Each week was set in a particular period in history, and each shop had to operate according to the rules for the period concerned. At least, that`s my interpretation of what is written, combined with the quotes I see elsewhere in the book. Thus, when the baker was in the Victorian period week, he had to make the bread exactly as it was done in Victorian times. However, the bulk of the book's text could have been written without any reference to the TV series.

It would have been nice to know more about the reaction of customers and whether the retailers who took part changed anything in their normal business as a consequence, but we are not told this. As such, I could well understand people down-rating this book, but I am very pleased with the book for what it is.

The six periods that the book mainly focuses on are the later Victorian era (from 1870), the Edwardian era (up to the end of the First World War; Edward VII actually died in 1910, but I`ll let that slide), the inter-war years, the Second World War, the post-war years (up to 1969) and the seventies.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Book 24 Nov 2010
This is a really fascinating book and beautifully illustrated with incredible rare photos of shops and high streets over the last 140 years. I love the series too - really great, quality television. Heartily recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been a gem - but isnt 14 Jun 2011
What strikes you immediately about this book is that, although it is generously larded with photographs from the TV series on which it is based, there is little or no reference whatever to the individuals who appeared in it, their experience or viewpoints. The book is simply using the popularity of the series to sell a book about the history of shopping. This is all well and good, as its a fascinating subject in itself. But the "first hand experience" resource is completely unused. The reactions of those who lived through the experience with all its tribulations and triumphs barely, if ever, gets a mention. Neither is there any mention of the viewpoints of the townspeople of Shepton Mallet, in whose community the experiment was carried out. If you compare this book with those based on other "time travel" series - say, for example - The 1900 House - it fails completely. The series is ignored and used only as a rich mine of glossy images.

I also found the language so dumbed down in places that it made it more suitable for primary school children. One particular phrase sticks in my mind - "The pound in Victorian times bought far more than it does today". No? Really??

If you are looking for a social history of shopping, this is a good resource (if more than slightly dumbed down). If you are looking for the personal experiences of the families involved in this interesting and inspiring social experiment or their customers, then forget it because you won't find them here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic book! 8 Jan 2012
By rebecca
I purchased this book as I am writing a dissertation about visual merchandising and point of sale and needed to learn about the history of the high street. This book answered all my questions! It explains the history of window displays and explains how shopping has changed through the years and what encouraged this such as the industrial revolution and the war. It has lots of dates and references which are a brilliant help to my essay! Also generally very interesting to read. Definitely would recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting book. 30 Nov 2011
By R. Page
This book does far more than just go along with the television series. It gives so much history and explanation, with lots of illustrations. Well worth the money I think.
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