An extraordinary set of photographs from the Victorian era provides a glimpse into Shrewsbury’s rich history of independent retail, as entrepreneurs pose outside their companies. The photos shows every shop front imaginable selling everything from cheeses and chocolates to shovels and shoes.
Joseph (Lewis) Della Porta was from a family of shopkeepers. His father, also called Joseph, was an immigrant from Northern Italy. He settled in Shrewsbury in about 1848 and established a small shop on Princess Street. The business prospered and expanded into adjoining shops including Lloyds Mansion, the Tudor building which stood on the corner of the Square. The store sold a wide range of goods such as hardware, furniture, bedding, china and boots and shoes. By the time of Joseph senior’s death in 1904, it was an established and thriving department store, especially noted for its Christmas displays.
As well as being a partner in the family business, Joseph (Lewis) Della Porta was also a keen photographer. Architects plans show that his new house, to be built on the Mount in 1892, included a darkroom. These amazing photographs were taken by Joseph in 1888.