Faces and future of shopfronts on our high streets

Hendy in Hastings Old Town - Chris  Coombes SUS-170310-120225001
Hendy in Hastings Old Town - Chris Coombes SUS-170310-120225001

Local photographer Chris Coombes launches his new photographic exhibition at Waterstones in Priory Meadow this weekend which is called A Nation Of Shopkeepers?

Chris said: “My intention was to record the wonderful heritage of our high street businesses in Hastings and St Leonards, together with their proud owners. Reminiscent of the old black and white photographs showing the owner standing stiffly outside his shop, full of hope and pride, my work takes this historical phenomenon and adds a modern twist to include a glimpse of the owner’s mindset and character with their written thoughts. How lucky we are to still have the diverse and vibrant businesses we have today - to have local people with an entrepreneurial spirit, willing to work hard and take a risk.

“We are told that very soon all our goods will be ordered via the Internet and delivered by drones, at the expense of the personal service we enjoyed in the past. But if we look up from smart phones for long enough, perhaps we can save our shops from the threat of Internet companies.

Perhaps we can become a nation of shopkeepers once again.

Let’s support them, or we could lose them.”

Having worked for a major oil company most of his working life, when Chris retired he realised photography could be part of his new life. “It was always an interest of mine and now I had the time to explore and enjoy it. So taking the plunge I enrolled on a ten week evening class at Sussex Coast College, Hastings, and from there I was asked if I would like to enrol on a full time HND Photography course. I jumped in, and I would thoroughly recommend further education to all. Be what you want to be.

Having the support of Waterstones has really motivated me and I appreciate being able to showcase my work in what is a fantastic space within Café W.