Primark - Market Street - Formerly Lewis's
To a kid who lived in the mean streets of Longsight close by the railway yard, a visit to Lewis's in the 1950s was probably the equivalent of going to the Trafford Centre today. The store sat opposite to Rylands Warehouse at the Piccadilly end of Market Street. You can see Lewis's on the left of the photograph below. By the time I visited the store the original building with its exotic looking tower had gone.
It was the place where I first saw a moving staircase. The first place I rode a in lift and where we went to see Father Christmas in a time when there wasn't one on every street corner. Visiting Lewis's pet department was the next best thing to Belle Vue or the numerous pet shops down Tib Street. It was also the first place that I saw an automatic drink dispenser. I will always remember choosing ginger beer and when the cup fell down picking it up with expectation and watching the drink run away down the drain!
The tower not only contained a clock but also a chime of bells.
The image below is shown here with the permission of Chetham's Library. It shows a busy Piccadilly with Lewis's in the background.
In 2014 there is a branch of Café Nero near the entrance to Primark that you can see in the image above. It occupies the space between Barclays Bank and the Primark entrance. In the 1950s there was a covered walkway here that ran in from Market Street along this L-shaped walkway and out again on Mosley Street. There was also an entrance into the store at the apex of the walkway. The image below shows the Mosley Street side of the store with a semi-circular sign over the entrance to the walkway. Next to it is an image taken in 2014 that shows the remnants of the framework that supported the cover over the walkway.
David Lewis opened his first store
in Liverpool in 1856 trading in men's and boy's
By 1870 he had expanded the store
into a department store. His first store outside of
Liverpool was this one on Market Street in
Manchester which opened in 1877.
In 1887 Lewis's published an album of photographs to commemorate Queen Vistoria's Golden Jubilee.
Inside was a drawing of the original store.
There was also a
description of the store's departments.
Stores in Sheffield and Birmingham followed.The Lewis's brand continued to trade throughout the 1900s despite the fact that after David Lewis's death it changed hands many times. Lewis's went into adminstration in 1991 and was taken over by a Liverpool businessman called Owen Owen who continued to use the Lewis's name.
However, the Manchester store finally closed in 2001 and subsequently reopened as Primark.
The building that I remember from my childhood, seen above, wasn't David Lewis's first store. It was a replacement for that first store built in 1915. Claire Hartwell in the Manchester Pevsner Guilde describes the Lewis's building as "a huge untidy baroque pile of 1915 by J. W. Beaumont & Sons, at that time the biggest store in the provinces rivalling the attractions of London shops. Extension of 1929 by the same architects."
- Lewis's Liverpool -
In May of 2010 "Closing Down Sale" signs adorned the windows of Lewis's Liverpool store.
Above the entrance stands the dramatic sculpture, "Liverpool Resurgent", by Jacob Epstein.
Below that staute are three amusing sculptural panels