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.
So, Primark inherits all that social history
because it now occupies what was Lewis's Department Store. 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