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James Smith & Sons Umbrella Shop

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by Karen Grikitis (subscribe)
I am a former journalist and editor, currently writing fiction for adults and children. Visit my website at
Published August 28th 2014
Elegant, hand-made umbrellas that will last you a lifetime
There aren't many high-end, luxury goods stores I can walk into and not feel intimidated by the staff, who look at you as if to say "don't even bother looking; there's no way you can afford any of this stuff." Well, there are always exceptions to the rule and James Smith & Sons on New Oxford Street, is a case in point.
umbrella, canes, sticks, London shopping
James Smith & Sons umbrella shop

The staff in this beautiful, historic store, with its Victorian frontage and elegant interior, welcome all and sundry to browse the colourful array of hand-made umbrellas, parasols and sticks, which adorn every inch of its premises.

umbrella, canes, sticks, London shopping
James Smith & Sons umbrellas
James Smith & Sons have been making ladies and gents umbrellas since 1830 and, as you can imagine, these are made of much sterner stuff than your average, high-street brolly, which collapses or breaks with the first powerful gust of wind. Strong, steel frames stretched with fabric in a variety of colours and materials are supported on shafts that come in a range of lengths, some with crooks made of cane or wood, others with straight or animal-head handles. They also make folding brollies, and if you don't see exactly what you are looking for on display, they will make one to order in their workshops downstairs, ready for collection in four weeks.

umbrella, canes, sticks, London shopping
James Smith & Sons sticks and canes
These umbrellas will probably last you a lifetime, and their prices reflect this, ranging from about 75 upwards. I treated myself to a peacock blue, 'pencil' length umbrella with beechwood crook handle and wrist strap. They also make wonderful gifts.

The shop assistant, who was charming, told me they have had customers coming back after 10 years asking for something to be repaired or for a change of canopy fabric, whom they are only too happy to oblige.

Even if you don't wish to buy anything, it is worth making the five-minute walk from Tottenham Court Road underground station for a spot of window shopping, as the display of umbrellas is a visual delight.
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Why? Beautiful, hand-made umbrellas and sticks
When: Mon-Sat, 10am - 5.45pm (except Tues, 11am opening, and Sat, 5.15pm closing)
Phone: 0207 836 4731
Where: Hazelwood House 53 New Oxford Street London WC1A 1BL
Cost: Umbrellas from about 75
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