June 20, 2024

Westcliff Army and Navy Stores sign auctioned by artist

The Ironworks community centre, in Southend High Street, auctioned off the remains of the old Westcliff Army and Navy Store sign this week, raising £627.

After the shop closed last year, the sign was found in a bin by artist Vicki Bee Stansfield, before each letter was decorated by artists across the city.

The Army and Navy Store had been a mainstay in London Road since the 50s selling combat clothing, bomber jackets, outfits for cadets, and much more.

Ironworks co-founder, Ami Solomons, said: “It has been redecorated and was stuck up on our wall. It was really nice and we had Southend history books around the sign as well, some by Dee Gordon.

“Everyone would have a look at it, the event was really nice.”

The auction was deemed a huge success as it raised hundreds to help support the Ironworks.

Vicki added: “I’m an artist that simply loves collecting ‘junk’ and using materials that no one longer needs.

“When I saw the letters laying on the floor, and being chucked down when the landmark store for Southend closed, I just knew I needed to make use of them.

“The Ironworks is very close to my heart, as well as so many of the wider and creative communities in Southend. So I thought this was the perfect opportunity to pay something back, and raise some much-needed funds for the community venue.

“I contacted local artists, and word soon spread.

“When we closed the auction earlier this week I was thrilled with the result, a whopping £627 raised.

“Thank you to all the artists who took part – it was fun.”

Artists from the Ironworks community decorated each letter, with Sarah Jane working on the S in the sign.

She said: “I hope my S and all the other lettering finds themselves amazing homes.

“I have spent time in this establishment being an artist model for Andy Downes, displaying my work, at a jazz afternoon, a duck meeting, drum and guitar evening, as well as meeting my mates there for a pint.

“Art is my passion and pastime. The Ironworks is a safe, kind place that so many people need in their lives.”

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