Tuesday, February 27, 2007

International Malls: Bush Fair Shopping Centre

Harlow, Essex, England - circa 1950s

Bush Fair Shopping Centre (don't think it's called that anymore), in Harlow, was a quaint open-air pedestrian mall, nestled amongst several similar "shopping precincts" (as they call them) in the famous Harlow Town Centre retail area (still there today) in Merry Old England. Kind of looks like some schools I went to as a wee lad, actually. But still groovy either way!


Blogger BIGMallrat said...

I tell ya, you'll have to change the name of the blog to "Malls of the World." :)
This district is very characteristic of post-WWII redevelopment. I can't even begin to describe the architecture, modernist? International?
We need some Brits to fill us in!

Tue Feb 27, 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Cora said...

International style is the term I'd use, though modernist is fine, too.

I'm not familiar with this particular mall, but such pedestrian shopping precincts were very popular in the 1950s and similar designs can be found in many cities around Europe. Some were razed, remodelled or enclosed (which happened to a late 1950s open air shopping mall in my town), but others are still virtually unchanged.

I should have pictures of the Lijnbaan shopping precinct in Rotterdam at home, which was the prototype for this sort of thing. I'll see what I can dig up and mail them to you.

Tue Feb 27, 09:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I grew up in this town, the vast majority of which was designed by architect Sir Frederick Gibbered between 1947-1969. This precinct is one of several located around Harlow built employing typical mid-century British modernist principles around 1950.

Harlow was intended as a commutable London 'Satellite Town' and highly regarded by planners and architects as the blueprint for the many post-war New Towns created to alleviate chronic housing shortage after Britain's major cities were devastated by bombing. A number of the towns original mid-century buildings have since been listed and subject to strict laws limiting any alterations with the intention of preserving its architectural integrity.

The vast majority of the families who originally relocated to the town moved from or had their roots in North London. The 'Bush Fair' precinct is still functioning, serving the local community, and looks pretty much the same. Supermarket delivery services and changes in retail habits have taken their toll though, and some of the shops have been left empty. Shops include two Hair Salons, DIY (hardware) store, Chinese Takeaway, a Cafe, a Guitar shop, and a much loved modern Pub.

Hope this is of interest :-)



Wed May 18, 04:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have shopped in Bush Fair for over 50 years , today the shopping centre is doing well whilst others are not so ,only one shop is now vacant. The shop owners have even set up there own association and organised a fair last summer for the local residents , with free activities and craft stalls. The buildings have not changed , there is a good community spirit here too with a great cafe. A chinese restaurant has been running here for over 50 years !
Harlow is known as 'sculpture town' with some fine pieces dotted around the town by sculptures such as Rodin and Henry Moore , the one in the foreground of the photo is called 'Wild Boar' by Elisabeth Frink ,unfortunately it no long resides here and now sits outside our civic centre in the town centre. Regards Barry.

Wed Mar 14, 03:04:00 AM  

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