Civic award for an old shop sign in Lewes

Darren Harker and the old shop sign at The Hair Parlour
Darren Harker and the old shop sign at The Hair Parlour

When Darren Harker took over number 40 Cliffe High Street in Lewes for his new hairdressing business, he knew he would need to modernise and convert the shop. 

What he didn’t know was that he would uncover an old glass butcher’s shop advertising sign which had been badly damaged by one, possibly two Lewes floods.

When removed from its frame it fell to pieces, but rather than just discarding it Darren had the sign copied by Keith Pettit and reinstated it.

“It is part of the history of the shop. Why would you want to get rid of it?” he said.

Darren’s actions at The Hair Parlour won him a commendation from the Friends of Lewes at the civic society’s 2019 Design Awards evening held on Friday at Lewes Town Hall.

One of the award judges said: “One sign in a town may not be that significant but it is the unique combination of signs, building materials, building details, and so on that makes places special.  

“The contribution of people like Darren and Keith to this in Lewes deserves our recognition.”

Other projects undertaken in Lewes over the past three years given commendations included the uncovering of the tile work on the former Red, White and Blue Public House in Friars Walk, Falcon Wharf development in Railway Lane and the repaving of St Andrew’s Lane.

Friends of Lewes said it was particularly pleased that East Sussex Highways, in a time of austerity and cuts, did not go for a cheap Tarmacadam solution. Rather it had contracted Hailsham Roadways, which undertook a painstaking job, recycling and re-using materials where possible.

Other commendations went to Alex Dove Fine Jewellery for shop design, to Priory Barn, a new-built house in Priory Street, for a modern rear extension to Yew Tree Cottage in Southover High Street and for the repairs to Preston House on School Hill.

In all, 10 projects were recognised - eight with commendations and two with awards. The awards went to Depot Cinema, including a special recognition going to David Smith, The Flintman, for the flint work at the cinema and to Hill House, Juggs Road, which is the first Passivhaus to be built within the South Downs National Park.

The Friend of Lewes holds a design competition every two to three years, depending upon how many eligible projects have been completed in the town.

The closing date for these awards was September 2018; 19 nominations were received from which 10 were chosen.