As The Star campaigns to Save Our High Street, calling for a cut in business rates to help traders, we look at lost city department stores.
At one time Sheffield city centre was teeming with family-owned stores such as Walsh’s, Cockaynes, Roberts Brothers and Cole Brothers, mainly developed from 19th-century drapers’ shops.
Now only Atkinsons remains as a family-run store on The Moor with a history of more than 140 years.
The others either disappeared or were taken over by bigger companies, like Cole Brothers, now part of the John Lewis Partnership.
They hark back to a bygone age where customers were served with deference by smartly-dressed staff and purchases were beautifully wrapped in paper.
No doubt no-one misses that stuffiness but older readers probably do fondly remember high standards of service and the sense of occasion of a visit, plus little touches like chairs to sit on.
Walsh’s was set up in 1875 in the High Street by John Walsh. The company sold silks, dresses, millinery, ribbons, laces, flowers, feathers, toys, stationery and patent medicine and had a restaurant and writing rooms.
In 1906 a cabinet factory and furniture depository was built in Pinfold Street.
Like Atkinsons, Roberts Brothers and other big stores down on The Moor, Walsh’s was destroyed during the Blitz of December 1940.
A temporary store was opened in Broomhill and later Walsh’s also operated from Fargate and Church Street.
In 1946, Harrods Ltd took over and the High Street store was rebuilt in 1953.
Six years later, House of Fraser took over Harrods and the building was redeveloped in 1968, with a subway entrance from Castle Square.
In later years the store became Rackham’s and eventually House of Fraser.
In what seems a motif for the decline of that part of the city centre, discount store TJ Hughes took over when House of Fraser moved to Meadowhall, before itself moving on to The Moor.
Cockayne’s opened as a draper’s in 1829, run by brothers Thomas Bagshawe Cockayne and William Cockayne, at 1 Angel Street.
By 1899 that had expanded into a department store with a cabinet-making factory. The store was also destroyed in the Blitz, reopening the first phase of a new shop in 1949. Rebuilding was completed in 1955.
In 1972 it was taken over by Schofields (Leeds) Ltd and the name changed to Schofields. It closed in 1982 and is now an Argos.