Long-lost department stores that were Plymouth’s go-to retail destinations
Photos unearthed from the archives show one-stop shops in their heyday from the 1950s to 1970s
Only one department store remains open in Plymouth these days, but for decades these city center emporiums, selling just about anything you could want under one roof, have been a mecca for hordes of shoppers greedy.
This role was mainly claimed by the large supermarket chains on the outskirts of the city, but in their post-war heyday three purpose-built large independent stores, sitting side by side on the flagship Royal Parade, aimed to offer complete shopping solutions for everyone. -comers.
Long before national brands House of Fraser (formerly Dingles) and now online-only Debenhams took over the top spot, it was Spooner, John Yeo and the slightly more upscale Pophams that were the go-to stores, which you wanted clothes, shoes, furniture, household items, electrical appliances, toys or just sausages to cook for tea.
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At Spooner, as our fascinating archive photos show, it was a one stop shop whether you were looking for tights and stockings, sweets, jewelery and scarves, ornaments or Plymouth memorabilia. Cheeses, charcuterie and frozen foods rub shoulders with best-selling books, hit-parade records and the latest perfumes.
Prices at Spooner’s were quite startling in the 1960s at two shillings and sixpence (12.5p) for 1lb (450kg) of cheddar and two shillings (10p) for a jar of Robertson’s jam. A few years later, after decimalisation in 1971, they were charging £8.60 for a baby high chair and £5.95 for a life-size doll.
Yeo’s, Spooner’s and Popham’s had all been mainstays of the town’s shopping scene since the first half of the 19th century and part of the vision for a new Plymouth following the destruction of the Blitz in World War II. Debenhams bought both Yeo’s and Spooner’s and eventually the two stores, linked by an internal walkway on the first floor, were rebranded under the single name. Popham’s, meanwhile, was taken over by Dingles in the 1960s but didn’t last long.
What are your favorite memories of Plymouth’s department stores of the past? Let us know in the comments section below.
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