Loading... Please wait...

Advanced Search | Search Tips


Vintage Eyewear and the Enduring Appeal of the NHS Prescription Glasses

Posted by

1985. The year Billy Idol let out his ‘Rebel Yell’. The year that Jennifer Rush felt ‘The Power of Love’ – and for spectacle wearers the year that the NHS in England discontinued their dedicated range of glasses and replaced them with practical – but soulless – vouchers.

While Billy and Jennifer may have had their 15 minutes of fame, the nation’s love for NHS-style glasses hasn’t dimmed.

According to The College of Optometrists, “The high quality of NHS spectacles has meant that many frames have survived to the present day and they have now taken on a new identity - as desirable retro-chic eyewear.”

The true round NHS style spectacle

Here at The Old Glasses Shop we know this to be true. One of our best-selling vintage frames is the true round NHS-style spectacle, made by the original manufacturer under the Savile Row brand. The frames are handmade to order at the Algha Works factory on Fish Island in east London, where employees still use some of the same imported German machinery that has been in place since the factory opened in 1932.

Where some sellers don’t stock any styles of true round glasses, here at The Old Glasses Shop we stock over 20 different pairs. From gold and silver frames - to the more unusual acetate and turtle-patterned frames, there’s a round glasses style to suit every colouring.

The John Lennon style spectacle

John Lennon of the Beatles was often photographed in this style of round glasses. In fact a quick Google search under his name reveals an array of images of the singer songwriter wearing versions of both metallic wire frames and black frame round frame glasses.


The Ozzy Osbourne style spectacle

Rock and TV reality star Ozzy Osbourne is another musical fan of the round glasses style. The self-styled ‘Prince of Darkness’ - and one time lead vocalist of British rock band Black Sabbath - is often to be seen rocking a tinted lens with his true round glasses in a rainbow of shades from blue to pink, to a suitably gothic black.

Google images screen grab Ozzy Osbourne in true round glasses, March 2015

Where Harry Potter meets Morrissey

In recent years Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal of the boy wizard, Harry Potter, has increased the popularity of the NHS style round glasses. Like Morrissey, with his Elastoplast glasses repairs, the young Harry Potter struggled with keeping his frames intact.

When Harry and Ron Weasley first met Hermione Grainger on screen – in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, way back in 1991 – it was aboard the Hogwart’s Express. Hermione popped her head around the carriage door in search of ‘a boy named Neville’s toad.’ On facing Harry for the first time, she pointed her wand at the bridge of his glasses, which was held together by Sellotape.

Oculus reparo!”

Harry and Ron gasped as the glasses mended, instantly.

“That’s better isn’t it?” she said, as Harry examined them.

Hermione then caught sight of the scar on Harry’s forehead.

“Holy Cricket! You’re Harry Potter!”

Now, we can’t promise to issue an “Oculus reparo” spell with our vintage eyewear. But we can promise that we can help you find the style of glasses you used to love years ago.

From the Jack Duckworth and Morrissey style heavy-rimmed NHS style of spectacle frame, to the classic and lightweight true round glasses style, all the stock we hold is genuine and brand new. Our glasses are not replicas or reproductions but are hidden treasures, gems that we have discovered in the dusty and forgotten corners of warehouses around the globe and brought to you for sale.

Happy customers worldwide

Here’s what some of our happy customers around the world say:

“I already own a pair of round John Lennon style glasses made at the Alga Works in London. I needed another pair as mine were getting a bit tired and I needed a pair for best. After some research I found the OldGlassesShop.co.uk. I was going away for a while so phoned them to make my order, requesting they hang on to the frames till I notified them again. On returning home I phoned and left a message. The glasses arrived the next morning. I am extremely pleased with my purchase from theoldglassesshop.co.uk and will definitely use the in future and would strongly recommend them to anyone looking for quality frames."

"Despite what several opticians told me it is possible to buy glasses with round lenses and not for an earth-shattering sum. The service was amazingly fast and the glasses themselves faultless."

"Round style glasses are increasingly difficult to find so I was very pleased to find this site.
Even more so for their super service and fast delivery (I live in France) for a top quality product."