I received an interesting query regarding yesterday?s posting about Church Street. The question was about the white building protruding between the Compton Hotel and Bon March?. My first thought was that this was the original street line prior to the completion of Bon March?. The white building was clearly removed at some stage since today?s photograph clearly shows the whole building set back from the street. If so, that would date the previous photograph to 1877/78 ? well before my estimate of 1890 – unless the corner building was demolished a few years after the main Bon March? building was erected and replaced by an extension. Certainly a check in Gore?s 1887 directory shows AT Smith (fancy toy dealer) and Dixon & Moore (auctioneers) at that corner address. Unfortunately, my maps are either too early or too late to answer this question. Any answers?
By 1893 (as seen in the photograph), the corner site was owned by Richardsons, a shop selling mantles/furs and waterproofs. Bon March? appears to have no frontage to Church Street (its entrance being through the arcade on the left. The other premises to the street were The Avondale Caf? and Durandu, a well-known tobacconist.
Bon March? took its name from the famous Parisian store and had a very successful history. The original building was replaced in 1918-22 (by the George Henry Lee building) and the store was famous for its promotions (Gracie Fields appeared there during the 1930s selling stockings for fifteen minutes) and, in 1937, it introduced Younger Liverpool, an early example of a boutique style department. During the 1950s, its fortunes declined and, having been briefly owned by the Liverpool Co-operative Society, it was acquired in 1961 by the John Lewis Partnership, who decided to merge it with George Henry Lee.