The pretty town of Market Harborough has become home to one of England’s most beautifully restored optical boutiques in an historic 3-story townhouse. Statement colours, extraordinary attention to design details, the reintroduction of heritage features and a warm and elegant atmosphere: the renovation and refurbishment of Clarke & Roskrow took nearly 16 months from start to finish, and resulted in a stylish contemporary practice that rivals some of the UK’s most successful contemporary optical retail spaces.
An optician’s since 1974, Clarke & Roskrow, which the Clarke family bought in 2014, had an old-fashioned appearance, despite the historic building in which it was located. Anthony Clarke remembers his first ideas on how to develop it and create something quite new. “The practice was tired and the building was being under utilised, operating from two rooms on the ground floor. I had an idea in my mind of how it could be transformed; something akin to a small, luxury boutique hotel, full of “period features” but with a modern and slightly quirky twist over several floors. I wanted the new space to take inspiration from its heritage whilst simultaneously giving a clear indication of our new forward-thinking path.”
“I had to “think out of the box” to get 93feet interested in our project,” he says, on finding the right partners for the work, often a particularly challenging stage in a project of this scale. “I sent them a video of me and the interior, recorded on my iphone. The next day I got a call from their designer Jim Butterell. The rest, as they say, is history!”
The restoration project and rebranding took place simultaneously. “For the building work, we approached several local building/construction firms. James Barby of Rockingham Construction had the “can-do” attitude and proven track-record of high-end finishes that we were looking for. 93feet understood what we were trying to achieve with the interior of the building and our “brand identity”, whilst Rockingham Construction were able to bring the design element to life, remaining true to the original design brief.”
The rooms are painted in bold yet warm heritage-inspired tones and feature an array of restored fittings from fireplaces to Victorian style ceiling coving, picture rails and authentic reclaimed wooden flooring. Contemporary Danish furniture is mixed with custom built pieces, designed and made by 93. Some eye-catching light fittings and works of art create an added finesse to each room where the luxury eyewear is displayed for customers to try on.
“I wanted an environment that gave clients an experience, something memorable and quite different from a traditional optician’s. I am very pleased about the response that we have had from clients, the overwhelming majority of whom are thrilled with the transformation; of course I’m also delighted that our project won the Federation of Master Builders Award (Commercial Project, Midlands – June 2019).”
Today, focus is placed on exceptional eye care and a handpicked selection of independent eyewear brands, mixing well-known names with emerging labels. The selection this season includes LINDBERG, Maui Jim, Anne+Valentin, Leisure Society and the iconic eyewear collection from l.a. Eyeworks. Anthony Clarke takes the view that his clients deserve the very best choice in interesting, colourful independent frames, right on their doorstep.
“If you want to sell beautiful and luxurious eyewear whether in a large city or small market town, you have to have an environment that reflects that,” says the owner. “The general public tend to assume that you’re a competent clinician, but we’re also judged on the quality of the products that we sell and increasingly, the experience that goes with it.”
18 Church Street, Market Harborough, LE16 7AA – For further information about the independent eyewear specialists Clarke & Roskrow visit www.clarkeandroskrow.co.uk Photography by Adam Fairclough. CN