George Washington & Co founded the United States of America in 1776. In London, W.Sitch & Co founded a new company in the same year.
Despite being as old as the USA, Sitch & Co are not afraid of change, having upped sticks to this house in Berwick Street, Soho in 1903. But that proved quite enough change for a while and the business has continued to be family owned (11th generation in situ) and to restore and reproduce vintage metal light fittings for old buildings, theatres and movie sets in the same building ever since.
They don’t go in for new-fangled shop fronts, presenting a severe black face, some odd-shaped and uninviting windows that offer a meagre display of goods and what looks like a domestic front door to the world. The shop gives the impression of being permanently closed. I stood and looked at it awhile recently, trying to detect signs of life. The good people of London hurried past en route to work or pleasures unknown and didn’t give W.Sitch & Co a second glance. A pigeon landed in front of the building and pecked at something on the ground. A plastic bag from the nearby market blew up into the air and hovered momentarily – as though contemplating trying the door – before being carried off again, powered by a fresh gust of wind. The shop remained defiantly untroubled by customers, somewhat impenetrable and yet resolutely and solidly still there. It will no doubt outlast its contemporary, the USA, the way things seem to be going.
(I got a chance to look inside the shop – see here)