Department stores developed in Britain in the late 19th century and they revolutionised the way goods were bought. A wider variety of cheaper goods such as furniture, fabrics and clothing could be bought under one roof. Prices were set and clearly marked, bringing an end to the tradition of haggling. All transactions were in cash.
The West End of London changed dramatically during the 20th century. Large department stores were built on Regent Street and Oxford Street. Architecturally, the buildings became grander and more ornate with stone facades and bronze sculptures. Windows became larger, so more products could be displayed. Many of London's department stores were rebuilt after the First World War. They were fitted with cafs and restaurants to serve their customers.
Fortnum and Mason
Charles Fortnum established a grocers shop in Picadilly in 1773. In the 1920s the store was refurbished and expanded, and one of the key features of the new facade were the elaborate windows. Above the entrance a large clock with automated statues of Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason was hung.
John Lewis leased a shop in Oxford Street in 1864. He had 14 years' experience in the drapery trade, having previously worked as a buyer at Peter Robinson. He began selling ribbons and haberdashery and in 1870 expanded into linens.
Dickens and Jones
Thomas Dickens and William Smith opened a linen drapers shop in Oxford Street in 1803. The shop moved to Regent Street in 1835 when the business expanded. In 1856 the Dickens family went into partnership with John Pritchard Jones and the shop became known as Dickens and Jones. In 1914 Harrods bought shares in the company and Sir Henry Tanner was appointed to redesign the shop front. In 1959 Dickens and Jones became part of the House of Fraser Group.
Established by American entrepreneur Henry Gordon Selfridge, the Selfridges store in Oxford Street opened for business in March 1909. It was an American-style store with a restaurant, a silent room, and music for customers to listen to whilst shopping. Staff had been employed ten months before opening so that they could be properly trained to serve customers.
Arthur Lasenby Liberty and William Judd established a small shop at 218A Regent Street in 1874. They had both previously worked in Messrs Farmer and Rogers shop on the opposite side of the road. Liberty sold decorative objects, silver and the good-quality fabrics for which they became known. Edwin T Hall and his son Edwin S Hall designed the facade of what is known as the Tudor Building in 1924. The timbers were taken from two ships: H.M.S. Impregnable and H.M.S. Hindustan.
Charles Henry Harrod opened a grocery and tea speciality shop in Stepney in 1849. In 1853 to escape the pollution of the City, he moved the shop to Knightsbridge. The building's facade was created in stages between 1894 and 1912 and is lit by over 11,000 bulbs. In 1985 Mohamed Al Fayed took over the House of Fraser group which included Harrods.
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