Memories from the Owen Owen store in Coventry
Thanks to John Tidmarsh for sending us these wonderful images from the Owen Owen Coventry Store. John worked for 25 years at the Coventry store and Torrington Avenue warehouse.
Thanks to Sylvia Pountney our volunteer visitor for Coventry for sending in the artist impression of the original Coventry store which was bombed during the Second World war.
The new store was rebuilt on Broadgate and reopened on 1st October 1954 by the Lord Mayor Alderman John Fennell JP. There are also images of the temporary store which was used after the Second World War and some images sent in by Trevor Bevin of the new store under construction.
Duke Ellington visits the Coventry store in 1972 – Memories from Trevor Bevan
Thanks to Trevor Bevan for sharing this wonderful photograph of jazz legend Duke Ellington being mobbed outside the Owen Owen Coventry store in 1972. The American pianist was the greatest Jazz composer and bandleader of his time. One of the originators of big band jazz Ellington led his band for more than half a century from 1926 until his death in 1974.
He composed thousands of scores and created one of the most distinctive ensemble sounds in Western music. He won several Grammy’s and the Pulitzer prize for his body of work.
Trevor Bevan remembers his days at the Owen Owen Coventry store on Broadgate fondly. He tells us ‘To the left of the photograph of the Lady Godiva statue there are some steps on the edge of the island. I had applied to become a management trainee in early 1969 and after two interviews I was informed that I had obtained the position. After the initial shock I went and sat on the aforementioned steps. I felt so blessed to have been given the chance to succeed. I have nothing but great memories of working for Owen Owen and Mr Blinco and Mr Treadgold and many others I worked with taught me so much. They sent me to do ‘the Grocers Institute’ and I became the top student with a pass rate of 98.5 percent. There was a meal held in my honor and a presentation of the great silverware which was on display outside the boardroom’
Memories from the Owen Owen store in Doncaster
Thanks to Diane Webb, Sandra Thorpe and Robert Ashton for sending in these wonderful images from the Owen Owen Doncaster store. Robert is now the volunteer display manager at the Trolleybus Museum in Doncaster. He maintains the same high standards in his display work there as he did when he worked at Owen Owen.
Diane Webb nee Smith (store name Smart) started work at Owen Owen straight from school in the late 1960’s. She’s pictured (centre) with fellow telephonists Sandra Proctor (seated) and Christine King in the foreground. Sandra Thorpe nee Smith (store name Shaw) is pictured on the menswear department in 1963. Sybil Beagles is pictured in the background. Sandra is also pictured with the Doncaster store hockey team.
The day the Beatles visited Owen Owen Doncaster store – memories from Sandra Thorpe
Thanks to Sandra Thorpe (formerly Smith store name Shaw) for this fantasitc memory of the day the Beatles visited the Owen Owen Doncaster store in the early 1960’s.
Sandra started work at Owen Owen Doncaster store aged 15 in 1962 and worked there until it was sold in 1976. She worked in the menswear department and the day the Beatles visited she was lucky enough to serve Paul McCartney who bought a red tartan dressing gown. She also got all members of the band’s autographs. A very memorable day in the menswear department for her indeed.
Paul obviously likes his dressing gowns. Here’s a photograph taken of him and his children Stella and James in Scotland in 1982 from his late wife Linda McCartney’s retrospective exhibition which appeared at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool in 2020. Sadly Paul is not wearing his red tartan Owen Owen dressing gown in this shot but I wonder if he still has it?
Memories of John Booth from the Southampton store from Les Netherwood our volunteer visitor for Bath/Taunton area
John Booth is pictured right on this photograph which I belive was taken down at the warehouse at American Wharf in Southampton. John came down from Livepool with his family in January 1963 as Manager of the Sales Promotion Studio at the Southampton store. He was a talented sign writer and artist and would have been involved in the name change of the Southampton store from Mayes to Owen Owen in 1967.
Thanks to our volunteer visitor for the Bath/ Taunton area Les Netherwood who worked with John at the Southampton store for these wonderful photographs showing the Sphinx carnival queen float from 1968 which was produced by John Booth’s team at Southampton alongside Les Brownrigg and his team in Liverpool. The theme for the Sphinx was inspired by the big film that year Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor. The photos show a lorry converted into the Sphinx ready for the parade down at Amercian Wharf Warehouse and pictured sitting in the carnival queen seat are Les’s son David Netherwood (left) and John Booth’s daughter Joyce (right)
The giant head of the Sphinx was carved from polystyrene in Liverpool by the team up there and the lorry was framed and covered in chicken wire and paper mache finished by John Booth and his team. The procession was a great success and the float was a credit to the Owen Owen store.
John retired from the Owen Owen store in 1980. The Trust is still in touch with his wife Nora who lives in Tewkesbury and his son Malcolm. Les Netherwood contacts the family regularly and he has fond memories of his time working with John. John and Nora used to let him park his car in their driveway near the Dell which was Southampton’s football ground in those days when Les went to watch Liverpool or Everton play there. Les used to borrow John occasionally when he was at the Bath store to do poster work for him. He also designed church notice boards in the Hampshire area and served as a lay preacher at his local church in Shirley in Southampton.
Memories of working in the Owen Owen Clayton Square store during the 1940’s and 50’s from Joyce Shelley
This image is from an official postcard of the Owen Owen Clayton Square store from the late 1940’s. Liverpool’s most progressive store was how the Owen Owen emporium in Clayton Square was billed back in the 1940’s. Someone who remembers the shop with particular affection is Joyce Shelley from Bootle who worked there when she was known as Miss Gaskell.
Joyce says, “The picture shows the splendid concave windows and arcade before the alterations were made while I was working there. They were really happy years working with superb staff, management and directors and of course all our lovely customers.”
There’s also a lovely photo taken on a staff outing to Blackpool circa 1953 of Joyce on the left, Miss Wolsey (Mrs Jean Woods) centre and Miss Search (Mrs Margaret Groom) on the right.
We have a wonderful audio recording which Joyce made in July 2000 with the North West Sound Archive where she talks to oral historian Anne Crowther about her time working at the Owen Owen Clayton Square store. She started working at the store after leaving school initially in the glove department and describes what life was like working there during the war and also how life changed after the war.
She has fantastic memories of a quartet playing in the 4th floor restaurant (pictured) while afternoon tea was being served. She also recalls graduate trainees working at the store including none other than Henry Cotton who went onto become Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside and the First Chancellor of Liverpool’s John Moores University.
Joyce left the store in 1959 after giving birth to her daughter. She continued to shop at the Clayton Square Store and had an account there but never returned to work there. If anyone remembers Miss Gaskell or has any memories they would like to share of their time working in the Clayton Square store then we’d love to hear from you.
Memories from Robert Lloyd – Owen Owen Warehouse, Irlam Road, Bootle, Liverpool
Thanks to Robert Lloyd for sending in these photographs of himself with the Owen Owen delivery van from his time working at the Irlam Road warehouse in Bootle during the 1980’s. We have so many photographs from the shop floors it’s easy to overlook the other parts of the operation – the warehouses and delivery service. If anyone else has any photos from their time working in the warehouses or on the road we’d love to hear from you. The Irlam Road site in Bootle is now owned by Sefton MBC and is a recycling centre.
Also pictured is an ashtray produced in 1968 to commemorate 100 years of pleasant shopping in the Owen Owen stores. This was given to Robert by a friend who discovered it while clearing out his late mothers flat. He passed it onto Robert knowing his connection with Owen Owen. If anyone has any Owen Owen merchandise in their cupboards please do send us some photographs.
Owen Owen Garden Party 1911 and the Owen Owen store on London Road in 1910
Thanks to our new Wirral volunteer visitor John Lindsay for sending in these wonderful postcards from his archive showing the London Road Owen Owen store on its completion in 1910 and a garden party from June 1911.
The Owen Owen garden party took place in June 1911. Following the death of Owen Owen on 27th March 1910 Edward Allen took over as sole managing director supported by Charles Underwood and George Lenton. We believe these are the three seated gentlemen in the photgraph with Edward Allen in the centre.
The second image shows Audley House, London Road following its completion in 1910 (note the tram car advert) Built and extended in stages the building is loosely modelled on Marshall and Snelgroves in Oxford Street, London. The reverse of this postcard shows a message apologising for the delay and promising collection of goods by van in the course of the next few days.
There are also a couple of images from London Road circa 1902 and 1906.
The Love Match – Monday 20th April 1959 at Crane Theatre, Liverpool
Thanks to Marjorie Martin (formerly Marjorie Mercer) for sharing this theatre programme from the Owen Owen Players production of The Love Match – a Lancashire Comedy which was performed on Monday 20th April 1959 at the Crane Theatre in Liverpool.
The Crane Theatre, now named the Epstein theatre opened in 1913 as Crane’s Music Hall. It was renamed the Crane Theatre in 1938. Marjorie played the role of Rose Brown in this production and is keen to hear from anyone else who was involved in the production. If anyone has any memories or photographs from this production or from previous productions please do get in touch.
You’ll see from the programme that the players performed every year from 1932. We’d love to hear from anyone involved in these productions and see any photographs you may have in your archives.
Memories from TJ Hughes store, London Road Liverpool from Cathy Keegan
Thanks to Rose Conway the daughter of Cathy Keegan (pictured second left) for sharing this lovely photograph of her mum taken in 1984 with her friends from the TJ Hughes London Road store in Liverpool.
Sadly Cathy passed away in September 2021 aged 89 years old. She worked at TJ Hughes for 17 years and Rose also kindly sent us her name badges from her days at the store during the 1970’s and 1980’s (pictured).
Rose told me how much her mum had enjoyed her days at the store. This photograph shows from left to right Pauline Foulkey, Cathy Keegan, Loretta Ward and Cathy Fergusan. Peggy Dunne is pictured at the back and the photograph was taken at Peggy’s son’s 21st birthday celebration.
Our Owen Owen Liverpool visitor Joan Welsby who also worked for many years at the TJ Hughes store was in regular contact with Cathy until her death.
Her Majesty the Queen visits the Owen Owen Redditch store in 1983
As the Queen prepares to celebrate her Platinum Anniversary this Summer it seems appropriate to look back to some of her many engagements including her trip to the Owen Owen Redditch Store.
Many thanks to Janet Young for sharing these wonderful images from 1983 of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visiting the Kingfisher Centre in Redditch to open Milward Square, a pedestrian plaza within the centre.
Janet worked at the Owen Owen Redditch store from 1980 to 1986. Pictured on the photo of the Queen on the left are our volunteer visitor for the Redditch/Evesham area Margaret Escott and Mrs Telkman from the fashions department.
The second photograph features the girls from the cosmetics and lingerie departments including Janet Young and Marlane Bennet now Mrs Syler who was her manager.
Southampton store – memories from late 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s
Many thanks to Avon Jenkins, our volunteer visitor for the Southampton area for sharing these wonderful photographs of the Southampton store from the late 1950’s, the 1960’s and the1970’s.
The first photo is Children’s Day which took place on Saturday 8th June 1957 held on the roof of the Southampton store. I’m not sure a rooftop children’s event would be allowed to take place today with risk assessment and health and safety regulations. The second photo features Mrs Doris Wilmer (far left) and Mrs Stella Adams (far right) who were both Personnel Managers in 1966. Stella Adams went on to become an Owen Owen Trust trustee. There’s also a photo of Doris Wilmer’s retirement presentation on 12th November 1976. This is the third photo and pictured centre is Mr John Norman making the presentation and far left Miss Liz Stewardson (now an Owen Owen Trust trustee) Also pictured are Mr Skinner, Miss Knowlton, Mr King and Mr Bevis.
The fourth photo featurs a staff training session in the Southampton store. You can see the old till pictured far right with the handle on the side. This meant that if there was ever a power cut and the electricity went off you were still able to use the till.
There are also some wonderful photos of the Southampton store taken at Christmas during the 1960’s when the store was still named Mayes. Avon recalls being taken to the store by her mother as a child to see it decorated for Christmas and thinking that the choir boys on the roof who were singing on a record were singing for real. The final photo shows the food department on the lower ground floor.
If anyone has any memories and photographs from their time working at the Southampton store we’d love to hear from you.