Twenty or so years ago I walked into 61 Pall Mall and was addressed as “Sir” quite an achievement for me at that time as I was a scruffy looking art student dressed in ripped jeans and a leather biker jacket. The man who addressed me looked more like an undertaker rather than the normal tweed clad (this is how you are supposed to dress like in the countryside young man, don’t you know) shop assistant. I was addressed with respect and asked no awkward questions regarding my request, a Hardy waxed wading jacket. A suitable jacket was found, wrapped and paid for with a credit card that was on the brink of letting me down, those two dreaded words ‘card declined’ thankfully didn’t flash up and I marched triumphantly out of Hardys with a waxed jacket. I was not going to wear this on the chalk streams of southern England but in the shady bars and night clubs of Shoreditch, East London. One day I would wear it on the Itchen or Nadder but until then I was to make my rural fashion statement in the Vale of Hoxton!
Soon after Hardy’s of number 61 Pall Mall closed down, my wading jacket still hangs in the basement and has since been blessed on the rivers banks of southern England for brown trout and Scotland in search of salmon. Looking back now I never thought that 61 Pall Mall was an era on the brink of extinction, I thought this establishment was to go on for ever, sadly it didn’t. If I had known of its impending demise I would have spent more time in there.
For those who remembers the wooden panelled shop and its calm atmosphere only broken by the occasional New York accent of an excited over seas visitor, you may also remember the changing faces of the shop window…
I’m sad I never got to go in that store. I was too late to London by nearly 10 years. I just watched the terrific ‘Lost World of Mr Hardy’ which nearly brought tears to my eyes. This is the store where they had the extra high ceiling to accommodate people trying their fly rods.
Such a magnificent institution and story, and so sad it could not be sustained in these times. Great story.