Longest serving Sheffield store celebrates its 147th birthday

Atkinsons, Sheffield’s longest serving department store celebrated its 147th birthday by inviting shoppers to take on one of snooker’s longest serving and highest profile stars.

Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 10:16 am
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 12:11 pm
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It has to be a pretty enduring business that can reach the grand old age of 147 – the iconic maximum break in the sport of snooker, the game which has become synonymous with the city since the World Championships first made it their home in the 1970s.

Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White – who was in town for the World Snooker Championship – spent an afternoon taking on all comers on a full-size table on the first floor of Atkinsons on The Moor.

John Atkinson's old shop on Leopold Street, which has been sold - 5th July 1960

John Atkinson opened his first shop on the Moor (then known as South Street) in 1872. The store has survived two world wars (it was flattened in the Sheffield Blitz of 1940), numerous recessions but remains the city centre’s largest independent department store.

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One of its most notable past attractions was a crocodile that used to reside in the store’s in-house zoo in the 1930s. The early morning staff were horrified to find it had escaped – it was later found dead having fallen down the lift shaft.

Atkinsons’ 147th birthday isn’t the store’s only brush with a snooker star. In 1988, current joint managing director Clive Hester and furniture buyer David Rose played a few frames with ‘Steady’ Eddie Charlton as part of a 24-hour charity fundraiser at the nearby Moorfoot Snooker Club.

Manager David Cartwright said: “High street retail is facing massive challenges in 2019 and remaining relevant to our customers, how they want to shop or what they want to experience is highly appropriate.

Scene inside Atkinson's store on The Moor, Sheffield, November 23, 1972

“That’s why it is a true honour that Jimmy White helped us celebrate such a big milestone.

“We look forward to welcoming people to the store to see the many changes we’ve been making.”

The restaurant manager at John Atkinson, Mr B Cohen, looks on as members of his staff put the finishing touches to this giant cake made for the firm's 90th birthday celebrations. The baker-craftsmen are Mr D R Phipps (left) and Mr G R Scott , 17th May 1962