Portrait of Bath: Shelia Gwilliam (owner of Jack and Danny’s)

Sheila Gwilliam, owner of Jack and Danny’s vintage clothing shop in London Street, Bath.

Sheila Gwilliam moved from Portobello to Bath in the 1960s and set up a vintage clothing emporium in London Street that’s loaded with possibilities for reinventing your wardrobe.

There is a vintage clothing shop in London Street that harks back to another era. For those who miss the tempting piled-up buzz of the jumble sales of old and second-hand shops where there are endless boxes and towering layers of artefacts to rummage through, then head over and embrace the vibes at Jack & Danny’s vintage clothing store. Jostling on rails, suspended high on the walls and piled in tempting combinations you’ll find peacock feathers, strings of beads, sequin-covered dresses, full petticoat skirts, lush velvet jackets, glistening textures of leather, faded spectrums of denim, endless sartorial possibilities… it’s a kind of vintage wonder world.

Owner Sheila Gwilliam arrived in Bath in 1967 with her partner Bob Mickleburgh, having been reluctantly persuaded to move here from London. While in London, Sheila had made a living by running clothes stalls in Bermondsey Market and Portobello Road. A friend who was a rag and bone man had given her the residue of costumes from two theatrical costumiers, which he had been asked to destroy, which provided a fantastic range of stock for Sheila.

Sheila and trumpeter and trombonist Bob had met in London where they became a couple – Bob played with the 1920s jazz band The Temperance Seven. He also played the trombone in American trumpeter Louis Armstrong’s band when he came to the UK – Louis would only play with Bob when he was in the country.

After moving to Bath, Bob and Sheila opened Jack and Danny’s, showcasing Sheila’s theatrical array of clothing. The neighbourhood in this era was community-focused and Sheila remembers spending many happy lunchtimes with other locals in The Bell Inn. The couple soon formed part of the vehement and sustained local opposition to the proposed Buchanan Tunnel Scheme involving a modern dual carriageway that would have wiped out the London Road. The scheme was eventually shelved in 1976.

Jack & Danny’s with its vintage clothing is still a colourful presence on the street 57 years after first opening. Sheila has just turned 80, shows no signs of slowing down and is currently planning her vintage clothes stall at Glastonbury Festival this year.

Jack & Danny’s, 2 London Street, Bath BA1 5BU
Tel 01225 469972

Portrait by Joe Short. Joe is an award-winning photographer based in Bath. joeshort.com