I don’t know about you, but I never look in shop windows anymore. Frankly, there’s not much to look at, with only a handful of department stores making the effort, if at all.
We must thank Harry Gordon Selfridge for being one of the first to create window dressing displays to attract customers.
The American millionaire’s aim was to “make an art of window display” and resulted in copycat spectacles across Britain.
Nowadays, the skill of window dressing has been replaced with visual digital technology, and this hasn’t exactly helped our struggling shops.
The Moor at night can be a particularly gloomy place when shops have closed, and despite the best efforts of ‘arty’ street lighting, its attempts to attract a night-time audience are pretty much nil.
It makes this newspaper article from March 1931 about “the attractive thoroughfare” even more interesting.
“On leaving cinemas and theatres in the centre of the city last night, hundreds of people were attracted to the Moor, by the special lighting display arranged in connection with the ‘Display Week’.
“They discovered undreamed beauty at Moorhead. The Crimea monument has not been regarded with admiration by many modern citizens, but under the floodlighting this week it takes on special graces.
“The whole result is a credit to those who have contributed to the scheme, to the Electric Supply Department of the Sheffield Corporation, the Edison Swan Electric Company, and the proprietors of the various businesses on the Moor.
“Standing at Moorhead one has an uninterrupted view of the straight thoroughfare down a slight gradient, and the effect of the special lighting is most striking.
“After ordinary business hours the shops are keeping their well-dressed windows lighted. During the whole of last evening the Moor was thronged with citizens attracted by the more than usually bright appearance of the various establishments.
“Although the shops were closed and the interior premises were in darkness, the brilliant windows in which the best efforts of a peculiarly modern art were displayed, attracted many appreciative visitors.
“Until 10 o’clock the whole of the Moor was a blaze of light, and provided ample proof of the efficiency of the arrangements, as well as the business acumen of tenants and proprietors of premises along the thoroughfare which is regarded by many as the most attractive business centre in the city.”
Today, the Moor Management team can only dream at such high visitor numbers after-dark, but we should remember that this was the major road linking Pinstone Street with Ecclesall Road, and with a plentiful supply of cars, buses and trams going up and down.
And while we’re at it, the Crimea monument, seemingly lost for years by Sheffield City Council, before being found again, once earmarked for the Botanical Gardens, is still languishing in some dark corner.