Bourne and Hollingsworth ( B & H) - Oxford Street, London
Bourne and Hollingsworth was the large department store on the corner of Oxford Street, Wells Street and Berners Street, London that Philip Suter worked for in the 1970s as a trainee and Assistant Buyer in Toys and Sports before joining Suters Ltd for a short period before it was sold.
It was named after its founders Walter William Bourne and Howard E Hollingsworth. At that time there were several members of the Bourne family involved with the company. For a while they also had a branch in Southampton.
According to this Bourne and Hollingsworth staff guide "Our History" (Which is very similar in content to Suters Limited Staff Rule Book)
"The business was founded in 1894 in Westbourne Grove, then a fashionable shopping street, by Walter William Bourne and Howard Hollingsworth, his brother-in-law. It dealt only in fancy drapery goods, laces, ribbons, gloves and millinery. In 1902 it moved to the corner of Oxford Street and Berners Street and its range of merchandise was considerably enlarged. At about the same time a branch was opened in Croydon but was soon closed, the partners preferring to concentrate on one business.
Before long the extenstion of departments and the increase of business called for further room. In the end the whole present island site, about an acre in extent, was acquired. But the premises were still inadequate, consisting mainly of old shops and houses with a mews down the middle. The fine modern building which we now occupy was mostly built between 1922 and 1928. The escalators and sixth floor were added ten years later.
It was not, however until 1960 that the development of the island site was completed by the rebuiloding of three old properties in Wells Street and the covering in of the great light well which pierced the southern block of the premises, developments which were delayed by the 1939-45 war, during which B. & H. was heavily bombed.
At first the business was mainly in women's clothing and accessories, with only a few departments of a more general character. Towards the end of 1938, however, a broader policy was adopted which owing to the war could not be put into effect immediately. As soon as circumstances permitted, new departments were opened in the basement and on the 3rd and 4th floors. Great care was taken, however, to preserve the general character of the business; women's and children's clothing, fashion accessories and haberdashery remained predominant.
In 1920 the firm became a private limited company and in 1951 a public company still under family control. Walter William Bourne died in 1921 and Howard Hollingsworth in 1938, the latter being succeeded by Mr. Stafford Bourne as head of the business.
Originally the firm had a small hostel in Store Street known as Staffordshire House. As the business grew this, too became inadequate and Warwickshire House was built in 1912. Some years later Staffordshire House was disposed of and Warwickswhire House enlarged, the consolidation making for greater economy. The houses were named after the counties in which the two founders, Mr. Bourne and Mr. Hollingsworth, were born".
Whilst working there in the 1970s Philip Suter said there were at least two other family members from other independent department stores in England learning about retailing at Bourne and Hollingsworth before joining their own family business. Like other department stores in that era it was run to a large degree by members of the Bourne family. There were not so many involved as at Suters for example and they like at Suters were called by Mr then their first name. Stafford and John Bourne were very much taking back seats with Stafford's son Edward and John's son Christopher in key positions. John's son Sam was also involved for a while.
It was sold in 1979 and later became Bournes running a very long closing down sale.
Today although the building's art deco facade remains it is still a retail scene inside, and was known as the Plaza Shopping Centre (1986 closed 2016). In September 2018 it was opened as prestigous branch of Next.
A restaurant in Rathbone Place, London now uses the Bourne and Hollingsworth name. The mother of the restaurant owner worked at the original Bourne and Hollingsworth, Oxford Street, London department store.
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Junior Management Training Scheme
Staff badge for Directors, Managers, Buyers, assistant Buyers etc - sales staff and Department Managers had individual name badges - Below
Department Manager badge
Member of sales staff badge
B & H Memo on left
and on right Advance Collection of funds from till collected by security and taken to cash office in basement
Delivery Note and Despatch Docket
In the Kate Atkinson novel "Transcription" published in 2018, about an 18 year old Juliet Armstrong working for M15 in 1940, there was a reference to the character Juliet imagining another character Annabelle taking trips to London for shopping and lunch at Bourne and Hollingswoth's restaurant.
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Daily Telegraph Wednesday August 2nd 1978
June 1978 Suters sells to Owen Owen, July 1978 David Evans sells to The House of Fraser and in August, from newspaper reports it looked like Bourne and Hollingsworth - B & H would be making a similar move.
News about possible sale of Bourne and Hollingsworth - 1979
More information about Bourne & Hollingsworth
Source of images, unless otherwise stated - Suter family archives