Paulden's Department Store

William Paulden began trading on Stretford Road in the 1860's and continued to do business in the area until 1957.  The red arrow on the aerial photograph above shows the store in 1953.  The building that you see above was first built in 1879 according to the date which used to stand above the name W. Paulden on the front of the building.  A document on the National Archive website from the Greater Manchester County Records Office describes Paulden as an innovator and points to the fact that he was, "the first to introduce electric lighting, lifts, escalators, plate glass windows and motorised vehicles (in 1937) to his shop. He also had a moving picture show in the window presumably advertising goods and services."  Apparently, the store also had its own three-piece band.  Prior to the introduction of motorized vehicles the store had stables at the rear that housed their horses and carts.

The purple star on the map below shows the block that the store occupied.

According to the document referred to above, "The hours of work for staff (after 1930's) were Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9 am - 6 pm. Wednesday 9 am - 7 pm. Friday 9 am - 7 pm. Saturday 9 am - 8 pm and the wages at 14 years were 5 shillings a week. At age of 16 this went up to 17.6d plus ½d in the £ commission. At the same time buyers got between £2-£3 a week.  The uniform was navy and yellow or navy and silver and in the afternoons the staff would change into evening dress."

The Greater Manchester County Records Office also has a document that recounts the experiences of Blanche Baxter who worked at the store from the age of 14, starting in 1936.  She also said that Paulden's was an innovative store and added that it was, "the first to bring Danish pastries to England. They were the specialist shop for carpets, lino and soft furnishing. They ran a lot of competitions - Shirley Temple look-a-likes, Mannequin parades. (they had duplicate set of the crown jewels on display in the shop). At Easter they built a farm in the basement and children had to guess the number of Easter eggs in order to win a puppy. At Christmas staff used to visit hospitals in the area in a carriage and four dressed as snow white and the seven dwarfs."

If you click on the link below you can Paulden's in 1925.

Paulden's 1925

Three years after that photograph was taken the store was taken over by Debenham's although it continued to trade as Paulden's.  The building was rebuilt in 1930 and it apparently escaped disaster in 1941 when it received a direct hit from a bomb that went straight though the lift shaft doing little damage.

In 1957 the store had a major refurbishment and on the Sunday before it was due to re-open a fire broke out that completely gutted the building.  The links below show the scene as firemen were fighting the blaze and the front of the building collapsed. 

Initially Pauldens moved next door and set up business in the neighbouring Drill Hall.   Another incident occured at the site after the fire when a double-decker bus was involved in a crash and ended up falling into the exposed basement of the store.  In 1959 Paulden's reopened in Market Street in the former Rylands Warehouse that today is home to Debenhams.  You can see their name on the side of the building.

Today the site of the original Paulden's Department Store, that burned to the ground, is occupied by the Manchester Metropolitan University's Cambridge Hall of Residence, see below.

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