Debenhams and John Lewis may have left Sheffield - but who remembers the iconic department store Roberts Brothers?

Debenhams has gone and John Lewis swiftly followed. But how many of us remember iconic Sheffield department store Roberts Brothers?

Monday, 18th October 2021, 3:41 pm

The store proudly stood on a plot between Atkinsons ad Debenhams on The Moor.

Eventually it merged with Eyres furniture store and eventually turned into Eyres in the 1970s.

But some shoppers remember how - what probably seemed futuristic then - how they placed their money in a container and air shot it though a tube to the cashiers. It never really caught though.

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Roberts Brothers, The Moor, Sheffield Christmas illuminations Around 1962

In 1960, the store was almost completely finished and one floor was opened and unveiled to an eager Sheffield public.

The Roberts family back then confidently predicted the new store - then called Rockingham House - would become permanent feature on The Moor.

Alas, it wasn't to be but they gave it a jolly good go.

The rise of Robert Bros is inextricably bound up with the story of The Moor.

Looking towards Pinstone Street. Roberts Brothers' Rockingham House department store, in background. @wildtwo66: ‘I think it is better pedestrianised. I remember lots of buses and lots of people on the pavements and dirtier as we hadn’t gone smokeless.’

In September 1896 two enterprising young brothers Charles and Arnold Roberts broke away from the family business to-make their own way in the world.

They bought two shops at 50 and 52 The Moor and began their own drapery business, called Rockingham House.

Things went well and 32, 34 and 36 The Moor were duly snapped up in 1904 and by 1938 they had a thriving business, christened Rockingham House II, on what was then - and is again more than a century later - the city's premier shopping street.

But dark storm clouds were brewing across Europe and World War II was on the horizon.

How the opening of the new Roberts Brothers' store was reported in May 1960.

German bombers rained bombs down on the city wreaking chaos in December 1940 and Roberts Bros was almost completely destroyed.

But showing true Sheffield steel, the family had two temporary stores up and running within weeks on Ecclesall and London Road.

The process of returning to The Moor was understandably slow as the city painstakingly rebuilt itself.

Demolition of the remains of the store began early in 1953 and the first phase was completed in July 1955.

Mishaps were encountered and overcome on the way, including a troublesome coal seam under the new foundations.

But by May 1960, Rockingham House III was almost completed- and being hailed as the future of shopping.

It was to feature 27 departments all under one roof 'for shoppers who don't particularly like the idea of tramping from shop to shop on The Moor'.

A Star report adds: "Shoppers will find it a pleasure to wander round. There is a quiet and tranquil atmosphere. Shoppers will delight in taking their time over a purchase."

The shop had a 350-strong workforce and had the reputation as one of the 'friendliest and most helpful stores' in the city.

What had began as a drapery and furnishing store, now boasted ladies' shoes, men's wear, ironware, glass and china, electrical goods including fridges TVs, washing machines and fridges, records, fabrics and linens.

Sounds just like what the city centre is crying out for today.Thank goodness we still have Atkinsons.