LONDON'S LOST DEPARTMENT STORES
A Vanished World of Dazzle and Dreams
Not long ago, every major high street in Greater London, from Ilford to Uxbridge, had its landmark department store. The West End was full of them – from Debenham & Freebody on Wigmore Street, to Swan & Edgar at Piccadilly Circus. But now the department store is suddenly an endangered species. We've lost an astonishing 83% in the past six years.
Today’s consumer has little idea of the sheer dazzle of these ‘Halls of Temptation’ during the golden age of shopping – of their sheer theatrical spectacle, the overwhelming assault on the senses, the astonishing architectural élan.
From the fabulous Art Deco of Derry & Toms, to the startling Moderne lines of Holdrons of Peckham Rye, department stores led the way in fashion and design. As new social hubs for the independent Victorian woman, they engineered social progress. They became legendary for their publicity stunts, their Christmas shop windows, their exotic pet departments, their furs: as places where you could buy anything. – as Mr Whitely famously said, 'from an elephant to a pin'.
Bursting with original research and anecdote, illustrated with superb period photographs throughout, this unique store-by-store history brings to life a vanished era of confidence and style.
For London-lovers, architecture buffs, history flâneurs, fashionistas, former workers – and anyone who has ever loved riding the escalator up, up, up.
Click the images below for stories from the stores