61 Lime Street, c1912

Church Street, 1928

In a much earlier post, I wrote that a history of shops in Liverpool was overdue. There is plenty to write about from the first purpose-built department store in Europe (in Compton House where M & S is now), the great Welsh retailers David Lewis, Owen Owens and TJ Hughes, the Vestey’s and their Dewhurst butchers chain, the once-exclusive Bold Street and so on.
Liverpool with its extremes of wealth and poverty supported a wide range of shops catering for those at either end and the ones in the middle. The first Woolworth’s store was in Church Street and Harrods were close to opening their only store outside of London on the site then occupied by St Peter’s church. They pulled out and Woolworth moved across the road and built the fine shop now occupied by Top Shop.
Marks and Spencer were another company attracted to the city and they opened a shop in Lime Street in 1903. The top photograph is of a slightly later date because The Picture House (later renamed The Futurist) built in 1912 is clearly visible next door. The facade above the shop front is showing signs of age – and it is no better today.
M & S had opened their first store in Manchester in 1894 and quickly built up a reputation for their high principles, buying only British produced goods and offering a no-quibbles returns policy that was unique at that time. In 1928, the company moved into a substantial part of Compton House and have remained there ever since. The store was extended in the 1970s and a further extension to front Williamson Square has been planned but not, as yet, carried out. Hopefully, the development will take place before too long and help revamp what is now a rather poor quality city square.

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