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Further information on other Independent Department Stores from the 1970s - Bourne and Hollingsworth - B & H

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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 in 1902 a branch was opened in Croydon but was soon closed, the partners preferring to concentrate on one business.

The Croydon Chronicle 20 January 1900

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 rebuilding 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".

During the Second World War in 1940 the Oxford Street store suffered from bombing:


For a while there was also a branch in Southampton from 1959. More information here

The two maps below do not enlarge.

The arrow points to the Oxford Street "Island site" - Oxford Street, Wells Street, Eastcastle Street and Berners Street. This image is from a 1970s London tourist map bought at Dublin Airport.

The larger section map shows a selection of department stores past and present Selfridges, Marshall and Snelgrove,Debenham and Freebody, John Lewis, Peter Robinson, Dickins and Jones, Liberty Robinson and Cleaver and Swan and Edgar.

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.

In October 2020, Ian Johnson who worked at Bourne and Hollingsworth till the end of Bournes under the Raybeck ownership made contact. Ian's Grandfather was General Manager all through the blitz in the Second World War and beyond it. Ian had been going to B & H reunions and it was very interesting to find out what happened to various members of the Bourne family and staff who were there when Philip was working at the store in the mid seventies.

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. Ian Johnson said in an email to Philip in October 2020 that Jill Case (Underwear Group Buyer) that it is her son that owns the name and restaurant Bourne & Hollingsworth.

Below: In September 2021 - Next - o2 - Costa Coffee now in the rebuilt Bourne and Hollingsworth building in Oxford Street, Berners Street and Wells Street


Corner of Berners Street and opposite the building that used to be the Nat West Bank


Looking towards Centre Point and Tottenham Court Road



Wells Street side and Oxford Street side


left - price tickets & an order form for personal Basildon Bond writing paper

Despatch tie on label from 1970s

Philip Suter business card

Pass for the British Sports Trade Fair

Receipt for Philip Suter from February 1976, found in December 2020 - showing 20% staff discount on developing some photos.

1976 Christmas brochure Click on image to access page

The following images do not enlarge

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

Account Card

Telephone used at Bourne & Hollingsworth in the 1950s to early 1970s era. Note the Telephone number "Museum 1515" (Extension 317) later to become 01 636 1515 - This image does enlarge

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.

The following images do not enlarge


Above left: Advertisement from "The Sketch" January 13 1954 - Above right: Advertisement from "The Tatler" November 23 1955 - The store was open till 8 on a Thursday in that era and when Philip Suter worked there they were open 9.30 - 8 on a Thursday.

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

and more

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Source of images, unless otherwise stated - Suter family archives


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