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Grade II Listing for Weston-super-Mare’s WHSmith

16th January 2020

The building where WHSmith is located at 42-44 High Street Weston-super-Mare has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

The listing is one of the outcomes of the Great Weston Heritage Action Zone, which is unlocking the economic potential of Weston’s historic town centre.

The store on Weston High Street was built in 1926 as WH Smith & Son rapidly expanded. The new store, a substantial rebuilding of two earlier shops, has been a successful example of converting established business premises. Its lavish façade and lending library are typical of early 20th century WHSmith shopfittings.

The façade’s lead panels feature carvings of flowers and animals, and coats of arms of Somerset, Bath, Bristol and Taunton. Weston-super-Mare itself is not represented because the town’s coat of arms was not created until 1928.

The frieze above the windows includes a quote from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (Act 4, Scene 1) ‘Come and take choice of all my library / And so beguile thy sorrow.’ It is carved in the official font of WHSmith created in 1903 by Arts and Crafts designer Eric Gill (1882 – 1940).  The decorative scheme continues in the former lending library which features neo-Tudor plaster work of rustic scenes and a man holding a leather-bound book.

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