Times are tough on Ealing's high streets, with traders already hit with the fallout from the international banking crisis now bracing themselves for the impact of the new Westfield mall at White City.

But while our fragile economy may be beginning to resemble that of the 1930s, at least today's shopkeepers do not have to contend with the devastation caused by falling German bombs.

Edwin Bartlett may have been aware of the gathering political storm that led to the Second World War when he opened his hardware store in South Ealing Road in 1936, but his mind would probably have been more sharply focused on the daily challenge of turning a profit in a tough climate.

The photograph capturing the opening of the store shows a bewildering array of goods and services offered by Mr Bartlett, better known in the community as Tom, and his wife Mary.

Essential, no-nonsense goods like candles, nails, lamp oil and soap are prominently featured on trestle tables on the street, while signs in the windows advertise lawn mower and knife sharpening, Christmas clubs and even the services of a palmist.

The impressive store front did not last long. Four years later, on September 27, 1940, the shop was badly damaged in the blast from a parachute mine dropped by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz, which wiped out many of the neighbouring buildings.

Embodying the indefatigable spirit of the times, Tom returned to work the next day despite not having much of a shop left.

His 10-year-old son Roy, now aged 78 and a historian in West Ealing, was taking cover in the bomb shelter underneath the shop when the mine exploded. The blast sent him reeling and crushed the cartilage in his right foot - an injury which has plagued him all his life.

Roy said: "I can remember it like it happened yesterday. Typical of the spirit of those dark days and despite no door, windows or indeed stock, which was all over the road, my parents opened the shop as usual. They couldn't let people down.

"In mid-morning a lady called in with a paraffin oil stove found in her front garden some 100 yards away. 'Yours I think Tom,'she said. 'It's still got your label on.'"

Roy only recently discovered the photograph of the store after a chance conversation revealed it was on display at a skiing centre in Hayes.

"I was delighted to see it," he said, "and to see my dad as he looked when he was about 40. It's just a shame my mother isn't in the picture, because she did most of the real work."

The devastation wrought by the bomb is clearly shown in the other photographs supplied by Roy. By the end of the day the rescue squads had cleared the road, and took a break outside the hardware store as Mrs Bartlett served refreshments.

Tom Bartlett can be seen again in the fore-ground, wearing a cloth cap and with his shirt sleeves rolled up.

The grand frontage of the shop was patched up with corrugated iron and timber for much of the rest of the war as the danger of further bomb damage prevented expensive rebuilding.

It was rebuilt properly in 1943, and the Bartletts continued to run it until their retirement in 1958.