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London's Lost Department Stores

London’s sumptuous Victorian and Edwardian department stores changed the capital – and changed its women. Shoppers of every rank were lavishly wooed, seduced and often undone by the temptations laid out before them in these new ‘cathedrals of desire’.

Starting on Oxford Street’s ‘golden mile’, we'll set off on a cultural tour of the capital’s big stores – from snooty Marshall & Snelgrove, to Pontings, ‘House of Value’; from Kennards’ wart-removal service, to the live flamingos atop Derry & Toms; from Bodgers of Ilford, to Bon Marché of Brixton.

How did it feel to enter a great store in 1850 – and in 1950? What was it like to serve? From shoppers to shop girls, publicity stunts to wow factor window dressing, this is a fascinating slice of vanished social history, superbly illustrated with rare period images.

London’s Lost Department Stores shines a light on 50 former great emporia.
 

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‘Department stores are far more than shops. Their closure feels like losing a park, a library, an arts or leisure centre. Every town mourns these lost urban sitting rooms.’

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian.