Retro: Celebration of a city institution

Atkinsons staff
Atkinsons staff
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This March a great Sheffield institution turns 145 and The Star Retro is joining in with the celebrations.

Atkinson’s department store was opened in 1872 by John Atkinson, who was the great grandfather of the current managing director, Nicholas Atkinson.

Atkinsons advert
Louis Velveteen finest velvet

Atkinsons advert Louis Velveteen finest velvet

He began by selling haberdashery in a small shop near to the current shop site on The Moor and soon began working on ambitious plans for a department store that were at the cutting edge of retailing in their day.

The company is still independently owned and run by the Atkinson family, a rarity in these days ofbig multi-nationals, and has been much loved by generations of Sheffielders.

A special edition of Retro will look back on that story and some of the highs and lows of Atkinson’s history, including how a Nazi incendiary bomb destroyed the store during the Blitz, when The Moor was devastated by a terrible night of intense bombing.

The store eventually returned, Phoenix-like, from the flames after several difficult years.

The store eventually returned, Phoenix-like, from the flames after several difficult years

It’s a story that reflects how Sheffielders in general got on and rebuilt their lives after the devastation of the war.

We’ve been speaking to Nicholas Atkinson and his staff about their working lives and memories.

Many of the staff have been loyal to the company for much of their careers.

They have lots of stories to tell, which are both funny and touching too.

Atkinsons C. C. 1908

Atkinsons C. C. 1908

We’ll also be looking at the future for Atkinson’s, now that the Moor is set to become a major shopping area in the city again following the redevelopment that is currently taking shape.

Retro has been given access to the company’s archives to uncover some fascinating stories and images.

But we’d also like your own stories about the storeto go in the special edition.

Do you have special memories about Atkinson’s and its staff that you’d like to share, or perhaps some memorabilia that we could show everyone else?

Or perhaps you can remember visiting the old pre-Blitz store in its full Edwardian splendour?

Just email Julia Armstrong at, marking the subject line Atkinson’s, or drop us a line at Retro, The Star, York Street, Sheffield, S1 1PU.

The special edition will appear on Saturday, March 11, so please get in touch by Friday, March 3.