Corner Shop Stories

A corner stone of British life since the 1800s, the demise of the corner shop has been predicted many times. Yet by some miraculous feat, there are still over 46,388 convenience stores across the UK today.

We pass them on our daily commutes and pop-in when we run out of milk, but corner shops are more than sites of exchange where goods and services are sold. Underneath the façade, they have come to symbolise integration, cultural exchange and perhaps most of all, entrepreneurial flare. Yet these everyday spaces are seldom thought of as remarkable and we rarely play homage to the people who work tirelessly to keep our beloved shops open-all-hours. As a result, the rich social history of the corner shop remains largely untold.

Layers of London 

Working with Layers of London, we're creating a new record of London’s corner shops using stories, images and anecdotes that celebrate the role of corner shops in local community life.

Corner Shop Stories is a research and public engagement project that seeks to support the telling of this story. Through this project we aim to preserve intangible heritage, connect you to lesser known migration stories and prompt a reassessment of the value placed on corner shops.

Photo of the Kotecha Family at their shop in Dalston
Family photo of the Kotecha Family at their shop in Dalston
Photo of the Kotecha Family at their shop in Dalston

We’ve partnered with Layers of London, a map-based history website developed by the Institute of Historical Research, to start a new online collection presenting some of our research. So far, we’ve focused on the ‘reimagining’ of the British corner shop by those who immigrated to Britain from South Asia to set up shop during the 1950 – 70s.

" The biggest heritage of the Corner shop is that it was more than just a shop. It was a place for the community."
- Divyakant Ashier, family shop was on Boleyn Road, Dalston, set up 1980s. Current shop in Havering, Essex, set up in 1989

We’re now crowdsourcing for more corner shop stories from subsequent generations of shop keepers and their customers, from all different walks of life.

Do you have a story, image and anecdote about your local corner shop? Please help us add to this important layer of London’s history by submitting your memories on the Layers of London website.