One of Britain’s oldest independent camera dealers and certainly the oldest Leica agency, R.G.Lewis, will put up the shutters for the last time on Saturday. The closure brings to an end one of the most remarkable chapters (or, perhaps, books would be a more accurate description) in photographic history. I covered the background, including the astounding story of founder Norman Lewis’s spying activities on behalf of MI6, in two articles last month which you can find here and here.
I’ve spoken to many RGL customers who are upset that they will no longer enjoy the atmosphere and helpful knowledge of Len and his team. I will particularly miss calling in for a chat; for some reason Holborn station seems to figure frequently in my movements around London and it has been a continuing pleasure to be able to stop at 29 Southampton Row and pay my respects, perhaps followed by a congenial cappuccino at Patisserie Valerie next door.
The closure of the shop hasn’t gone unnoticed and today Amateur Photographer, a magazine that is actually three years younger than R.G.Lewis, carried an impressive review of the life and times of Len and his intrepid predecessor, Norman Lewis, to which I contributed a few thoughts.
The good news is that Len isn’t disappearing to his back garden just yet. He intends to keep the website running and will spend three days a week with fellow Leica dealer Richard Caplan at his rather swish premises opposite St. James’s Palace in Pall Mall. Long-time Lewis customers will have a good excuse to visit 60 Pall Mall and I shall certainly be calling in from time to time to see how things are going. I wish Len all the very best in his new enterprise.