Closed Department Stores, Closed Independent Clothes Stores, etc – Big Name Losses on the British High Street

Allders Croydon 4 May 2012

I was sad to see that Allders department store in Croydon closed down yesterday (23.9.12) after 150 years.

Have a look at my Been and Gone page – that page is about companies that you might expect to manufacture in the UK but actually manufacture abroad and companies who used to manufacture in the UK but do not anymore and companies that have closed down.

I’ve thought of a few more big name losses in recent or not so recent years – Selfridges Oxford (which later traded as Lewis’s, then Allders), Owen Owen, Lewis’s Liverpool (the last remaining Lewis’s, which I understand has now closed), Dunn & Co, Caleys Windsor (although John Lewis continues trading), Fenwick Oxford and Fenwick Lakeside Thurrock (Fenwick continues trading elsewhere), Simpsons of Piccadilly (although Simpson is no longer trading as it was, the DAKS Simpson brand of menswear and womenswear continues rebranded under the DAKS name), some Co-op department stores (many of these have closed, for example in Oxford, Reading and Colchester; the Co-operative Group no longer has any department stores, but some of the independent co-operative societies, which trade under the same banner, still have them, e.g. the Heart of England Co-op has department stores on Corporation Street in Coventry and Abbey Street in Nuneaton; and Co-op food shops and various other enetreprises remain), Arberys Wantage, Mortons Faringdon, Westsports (Faringdon and until around 2014 Swindon), Oddbins (still trading although many stores have closed), Habitat (still trading although many stores have closed), Focus DIY, British Bookshops / Sussex Stationers (Many closed down; some were purchased by WHSmith in 2011; I’m not sure if there are any branches still trading under the British Bookshops name), Barratts Shoes (this company also used to make shoes – went into administration in 2013, the stores have closed but the name is still used for an online shop; Dolcis shoes were purchased by Barratts/Stylo in 2008 and re-branded Barratts), Witney Blankets (various factories and brand names), Lewis’s, C&A (still trading in Europe, C&A closed all its UK stores in 2001), HMV, Hornsea Pottery, Clinton Cards (nearly; they went bankrupt but have been bought out and remain trading), Allders, Allders Croydon, McIlroys Swindon, McIlroys elsewhere (e.g. Reading) – William McIlroy was a group of department stores started in Swindon in 1875 and final Swindon store closed in 1998. The Reading store closed in 1955. The clock tower was removed from the Swindon store in the 1960s; JT Morgan of Swansea, David Morgan of Cardiff, Peacocks (entered administration in 2012 and subsequently became part of the Edinburgh Woollen mill and continues trading), Aquascutum (purchased by a Chinese company and still trading but will they keep making clothes in the UK?  Their factory was purchased by Swaine Adeney Brigg but has now closed), Woolworths, Game (this company still seem to be trading), Blacks and Millets (together with their Peter Storm and Eurohike brands; nearly; they are still trading at some locations; sold to JD Sports), Jacksons of Reading (closed 24.12.13), Turtles of CroydonWhiteleys Department Store in the Bayswater area of London (credited on the internet as London’s first department store and it apparently had a theatre and a golf-course on the roof) closed in 1981 and is now a shopping centre, Dixons (now re-named under the Currys brand), AthenaRadio RentalsFreeman, Hardy and Willis (ceased trading in the mid-1990s), Comet (went into administration in November 2012 with all its stores closing shortly after that), DewhurstFine Fare (acquired by Associated British Foods in 1963. In 1986, ABF sold the company to The Dee Corporation (subsequently known as Somerfield). Following this, all Dee Corporation’s newly acquired stores were rebranded as Gateway or closed, and the Fine Fare name had disappeared by the end of the 1980s. Somerfield was taken over by the Co-operative Group in March 2009 and the Somerfield name was phased out and replaced by the Co-operative brand in a rolling programme of store conversions ending in summer 2011. The Gateway and Kwik Save brands had already disappeared by then), and Midland Bank (taken over by HSBC in 1992 and its branches were renamed HSBC from 1999). On Kensington High Street was Barkers of Kensington (closed 2006), Derry & Toms (closed 1973) and Pontings (closed 1971). Barkers bought Pontings in 1906 and Derry & Toms in 1920, but continued to run all three as separate entities. House of Fraser bought Barkers in 1957. House of Fraser closed Dickins & Jones in Regent Street in 2006 and re-branded the Dickins & Jones regional stores at Epsom, Richmond, and Milton Keynes as House of Fraser in 2007. Affleck & Brown in Manchester (taken over by Debenhams in the 1950s) was closed in 1973. Gamages was a department store in Holborn in Central London which closed in 1972. Grant Bros (Grants of Croydon) closed in 1985. British Home Stores (BHS) – sadly the last of these stores closed down on 28/8/16.

Are there more?

Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd opened its doors in around 1972. Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd was a large and very prestigious department store located at 27 Westgate, Oxford, OX1 1LP. Sears (who by then owned Lewis's, who were also the owners of the Selfridges London store) re-branded the store as Lewis's in around 1989 and it traded under the Lewis's name until around 1996 (from around 1991 Lewis's had come under the ownership of Owen Owen). It then traded as Allders until around 2005 (Allders having purchased a number of the Owen Owen stores in 1996), when the store closed.

Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd opened its doors in around 1972. Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd was a large and very prestigious department store located at 27 Westgate, Oxford, OX1 1LP. Sears (who by then owned Lewis’s, who were also the owners of the Selfridges London store) re-branded the store as Lewis’s in around 1989 and it traded under the Lewis’s name until around 1996 (from around 1991 Lewis’s had come under the ownership of Owen Owen). It then traded as Allders until around 2005 (Allders having purchased a number of the Owen Owen stores in 1996), when the store closed.

Woolworths Oxford, 1957. There was an enclosed walkway at the left side of the premises which would lead you out to the back entrance of British Home Stores (with its famous cafeteria) and on to Shoe Lane and hence onto New Inn Hall Street.

Woolworths Oxford, 1957. There was an enclosed walkway at the left side of the premises which would lead you out to the back entrance of British Home Stores (with its famous cafeteria) and on to Shoe Lane and hence onto New Inn Hall Street.

Woolworths Oxford, 1957. Customers taking a sneak peek through the windows of the new store before it opened.

Woolworths Oxford, 1957. Customers taking a sneak peek through the windows of the new store before it opened.

Below is a video of Woolworths in Abingdon in December 2008, just before it finally closed. They used to have a great little record department. Woolworths are still going in Australia.

Woolworths, Abingdon, January 2004.

Woolworths, Abingdon, January 2004.

Former McIlroys department store, Oxford Road, Reading. Designed by Frank Morris and completed 1900-03, at the time the largest store outside London, it originally also incorporated a hotel. Subsequently it became the Co-op Department store in Reading which sadly has now closed too. The Cop-op had a department store in West Street in Reading before that.

Former McIlroys department store, Oxford Road, Reading. Designed by Frank Morris and completed 1900-03, at the time the largest store outside London, it originally also incorporated a hotel. Subsequently it became the Co-op Department store in Reading which sadly has now closed too. The Co-op had a department store in West Street in Reading before that (which until recently was a Primark shop).

The site of the Co-op in George Street, Oxford.

The site of the Co-op department store in George Street, Oxford. In 1907/8 the Co-op building at 63 and 65 George Street was demolished as well as two premises immediately to the west: No. 67 (a private house occupied by Miss Gibbons) and 69 (a beer shop, formerly the Oddfellows Arms). The large ornate brick building shown above in around 2012 was built on the site and the building is dated 1908. By 1930 the shop next-door at 61 (Pizza Hut in the photograph above) was incorporated into the Co-op building, and by 1932 the next shop again (Zizzi in the photograph above) was taken in as well. In 1969 the society merged with the Swindon Society to become the Oxford and Swindon Co-operative Society and later became the Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Co-op, then the Midcounties Co-op. The Co-op had many other buildings on George Street too including Nos. 24 and 26 which closed in 1972 and Threeways House which was re-developed in 1986 and closed in the 1990s. They also had shops and garages all over the city right up that least the early 1990s including a department store in Queen Street (now Marks and Spencer) and in Cornmarket Street (formally Marks and Spencer too). Their was a Co-op supermarket in the basement of Cornmarket Street for quite a while in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Since the 1990s there has not been a Co-op store in central Oxford. The George Street Co-op store (or rather stores) were still there in the mid-1970s but probably closed down in the 1980s or before.

Interestingly in 2016 the Co-op has reverted to its old logo first used in 1968.

Interestingly in 2016 the Co-op has reverted to its old logo first used in 1968.

Swindon's Regent Street department store McIlroys sometime before it closed in 1998.

Swindon’s Regent Street department store McIlroys sometime before it closed in 1998. TIL – My dad tells me he and my mum used to go dancing at McIlroys Department Store in Swindon – they used to have a ballroom. McIlroys ballroom (‘Macs’) played host to many famous names, including the Beatles in 1962 and the Rolling Stones in 1964.

McIlroys in Regent Street, Swindon with its landmark clock tower which was removed in the 1960s for safety reasons and replaced with a smaller less ornate clock front (seen the photograph above).

Simpsons of Piccadilly, late 1980s. The store closed in 1999.

Simpsons of Piccadilly, late 1980s. The store closed in 1999.

Turtle's of Croydon (October 2008). After nearly 115 years in Croydon, this family-run business ceased trading on 24th December 2008. It was always the first port of call for those "difficult to find" items.

Turtle’s of Croydon (October 2008). After nearly 115 years in Croydon, this family-run business ceased trading on 24th December 2008. It was always the first port of call for those “difficult to find” items.

L H Turtle. 1894-2008

L H Turtle, Park Street, Croydon. 1894-2008.

Turtles was a very large good old-fashioned hardware shop.

Turtle’s was a very large good old-fashioned hardware shop. Joe Plommer has a good article about Turtle’s on his blog and a great collection of photographs of the shop on his flickr.

Lewis's Liverpool, 2007

Lewis’s Liverpool, 2007. Now closed. From 1856 to 2010 it was the flagship store of the Lewis’s empire.

Mortons, Faringdon.

Mortons, Faringdon. Morton was a very small department store. This photograph was taken in 1986. The shop must have closed not long after that.

A pre-1986 photograph of the inside of the Westgate Centre (note that great menswear shop, now long gone, Dunn and Co)

A pre-1986 photograph of the inside of the Westgate Centre, Oxford. Note that great menswear shop, now long gone, Dunn and Co. Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd, sadly now closed too,  is on the left, out of shot.

Jacksons of Reading Department Store, December 2012

Jacksons of Reading Department Store, December 2012. jackson’s of Reading traded from 1875-2013.

I was sad to learn that Calders Menswear in Cardiff closed down just before Christmas in 2013.

Cardiff store Calders shut days before Christmas 2013. (1)

Cardiff store Calders shut days before Christmas 2013. (1). Photograph by author May 2012.

Cardiff store Calders shut days before Christmas 2013. (2)

Cardiff store Calders shut days before Christmas 2013. (2). Photograph by author May 2012.

Cardiff store Calders shut days before Christmas 2013. (3)

Cardiff store Calders shut days before Christmas 2013. (3). Photograph by author May 2012.

Former BHS, Swindon (4 Jan 2010).

Former BHS, Swindon (4 Jan 2010).

Like Debenhams, John Lewis, Fenwick and House of Fraser have in recent and not-so-recent years started re-naming stores they have taken over to their generic brand names.

For example, Elliston & Cavell in Oxford was re-branded as Debenhams 1973 (having been purchased by Debenhams in 1953); more recently Arding and Hobbs which was acquired from Allders is now trading as Debehams. Paulden’s in Manchester was re-branded as Debenhams in the 1970s. Marshall & Snelgrove (taken over by Debenhams in 1919) on Oxford Street, London was demolished and completely rebuilt between 1973 and 1975, when they re-opened as Debenhams. The remaining provincial Marshall and Snelgrove stores also became Debenhams. Some Marshall & Snelgrove stores have closed completely, for example Marshall & Snelgrove in Scarborough closed in 1972. Kennards in Croydon was re-branded as Debenhams in around 1973.

Heelas in Reading (AH Bull in Reading, which became part of JLP when acquired from Selfridges in 1940, was closed in 1953, the business subsumed in Heelas and the premises sold to Littlewoods) is now marketed as John Lewis; Robert Sayle Cambridge is now marketed as John Lewis. Bainbridge’s in Newcastle upon Tyne was re-branded as John Lewis in 2002.

Howells Cardiff is now branded as House of Fraser.  Kendals (formerly Kendal Milne & Faulkner) in Manchester is now also branded as House of Fraser. Jenners Edinburgh is now part of and trading as House of Fraser. Cavendish House Cheltenham is also now part of and trading as House of Fraser.

Ricemans store in Canterbury was acquired by Fenwick in 1986, and was rebranded as Fenwick in 2003 following re-development of the site in 2003. Fenwick acquired the Bentalls group in 2001 which at that time comprised six department stores in Bracknell, Ealing, Kingston upon Thames, Lakeside, Tonbridge and Worthing. The Lakeside store was closed, and three branches (in Ealing, Tonbridge and Worthing) were subsequently sold to J E Beale and re-branded as Beales, with Fenwick retaining only two of the stores, in Kingston upon Thames and Bracknell (which are still branded as Bentalls).

Elliston & Cavell’s (now Debenham’s) Oxford, picture of the shop from an advertisement on back page of Kelly’s Directory for 1914–15. The accompanying text reads: ELLISTON & CAVELL, LTD., HOUSE FURNISHERS, CABINET MAKERS, UPHOLSTERERS Carpet Warehousemen, LINEN DRAPERS, SILK MERCERS Milliners, Costumiers, Ladies’ and Children’s Outfitters. “OXFORD’s FASHONABLE SHOPPING CENTRE.” Telephone No. 181 (two lines). In direct communications with each department. Telegraphic address: “Elliston’s, Oxford.” FUNERAL DIRECTORS. EVERY REQUISITE FOR FAMILY MOURNING. Patterns, Estimates and Designs Post Free. Experienced Assistants sent to advise. 5% DISCOUNT ALLOWED OFF CASH PURCHASES CLOSE ON THURSDAYS AT ONE O’CLOCK Although Elliston & Cavell’s was taken over by Debenham’s as early as 1953, the old name survived until 1973. In the 1990s, the shop of 1894 shown in the above engraving was rebuilt by Debenham’s, but they preserved its old frontage.

Elliston & Cavell’s (now Debenham’s) Oxford, picture of the shop from an advertisement on back page of Kelly’s Directory for 1914–15. The accompanying text reads: “ELLISTON & CAVELL, LTD., HOUSE FURNISHERS, CABINET MAKERS, UPHOLSTERERS, Carpet Warehousemen, LINEN DRAPERS, SILK MERCERS, Milliners, Costumiers, Ladies’ and Children’s Outfitters. “OXFORD’s FASHONABLE SHOPPING CENTRE.” Telephone No. 181 (two lines). In direct communications with each department. Telegraphic address: “Elliston’s, Oxford.” FUNERAL DIRECTORS. EVERY REQUISITE FOR FAMILY MOURNING. Patterns, Estimates and Designs Post Free. Experienced Assistants sent to advise. 5% DISCOUNT ALLOWED OFF CASH PURCHASES. CLOSE ON THURSDAYS AT ONE O’CLOCK.” Although Elliston & Cavell’s was taken over by Debenham’s as early as 1953, the old name survived until 1973. In the 1990s, the shop of 1894 shown in the above engraving was rebuilt by Debenhams, but they preserved its old frontage. Elliston and Cavell purchased William Baker and Co in 1902 and commissioned the William Baker House building opposite the main store in 1915 (next to Boswell’s) on the corner of Broad Street and Cornmarket Street, which Debenhams continued to own and trade in until 1987 when they sold the building. The William Baker building, for example, housed the Debenham’s record department was situated on the ground floor. William Baker House is now Waterstones bookshop.

Modern Brickwork, John Lewis Reading - built when the new Oracle shopping centre was built in the late 1990s. Still known to many of its customers as Heelas, the Reading landmark has been part of the John Lewis Partnership since 1953. However, it was not until 2001 that the Partners decided to adopt the name of the founder, John Lewis, in common with most of the other shops in the group.

Modern brickwork, John Lewis Reading – built when the new Oracle shopping centre was built in the late 1990s. Still known to many of its customers as Heelas, the Reading landmark has been part of the John Lewis Partnership since 1953. However, it was not until 2001 that the Partners decided to adopt the name of the founder, John Lewis, in common with most of the other shops in the group.

Heelas in 1962

Heelas Reading in 1962. The store is still trading but is now branded John Lewis.

Heelas, Reading in 1975. The store now trades under the name John Lewis.

Heelas, Reading in 1975. The store now trades under the name John Lewis.

There is a fairly comprehensive list of current and defunct British department stores on Wikipedia.

The lack of independent department stores worries me and the lack of variety on the high streets of the UK.  Even though I shop a lot of the internet these days, I find it sad to lose good stores and especially department stores.

Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd opened its doors in around 1972. Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd was a large and very prestigious department store located at 27 Westgate, Oxford, OX1 1LP. Sears (who by then owned Lewis's, who were also the owners of the Selfridges London store) re-branded the store as Lewis's in around 1989 and it traded under the Lewis's name until around 1996 (from around 1991 Lewis's had come under the ownership of Owen Owen). It then traded as Allders until around 2005 (Allders having purchased a number of the Owen Owen stores in 1996), when the store closed.

Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd opened its doors in around 1972. Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd was a large and very prestigious department store located at 27 Westgate, Oxford, OX1 1LP. Sears (who by then owned Lewis’s, who were also the owners of the Selfridges London store) re-branded the store as Lewis’s in around 1989 and it traded under the Lewis’s name until around 1996 (from around 1991 Lewis’s had come under the ownership of Owen Owen). It then traded as Allders until around 2005 (Allders having purchased a number of the Owen Owen stores in 1996), when the store closed.

Selfridges (Oxford) Ltd from inside the Westgate Christmas time 1988

Please also see – Jacksons of Reading – in praise of a good old fashioned department store and Save Jacksons of ReadingSelfridges (Oxford) Ltd – a very brief history‏; and Department Stores in the UK.

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6 thoughts on “Closed Department Stores, Closed Independent Clothes Stores, etc – Big Name Losses on the British High Street

  1. ukmade Post author

    Philip Hall, Ripon’s independent department store, has announced that it is closing in a few weeks and will become an indoor market. What a shame to lose another independent department store.

    Reply
  2. Daddy Hardup

    Co-op department stores: The Co-operative Group no longer has any, but some of the independent co-operative societies, which trade under the same banner, still have them, e.g. the Heart of England Co-op has department stores on Corporation Street in Coventry and Abbey Street in Nuneaton.

    Reply
    1. ukmade Post author

      Hi. Many thanks for your comment. I appreciate the feedback and I have amended my write-ups on department stores to make it clearer that some Co-op department stores do remain. Thank you again.

      Reply

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