Of all the department stores on Wearside, the biggest of the lot in Sunderland was Binns.
It is 24 years since it closed after a lifespan in the city of almost 110 years.
Philip Curtis of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society, takes a look back in a two-part series which concludes on Friday.
As the twentieth century progressed, so a modest drapery establishment started by Henry Binns grew to eventually become the largest department store on Wearside.
In 1884, Binns was in High Street West but, in order to expand, the residences of 38 and 39 Fawcett Street were purchased and converted into a shop.
It was felt that with the opening of the Central Station in 1879 the footfall in this area would greatly increase and therefore it was deemed good business strategy to move as close as possible to the station.
By 1921 the store was on both sides of Fawcett Street and supplying ‘everything that is required for human comfort and welfare’. The store then had lounges and a tea room where a band played regularlyPhilip Curtis, Sunderland Antiquarian Society
By 1900, Binns employed 30 staff and, during the first twenty years of the century, most of the rest of the Fawcett Street block was bought for further expansion to take place. Efforts were also made to ensure that everything was of the highest quality.
Outside the first shop in Fawcett Street stood two beautiful ornate street lamps. The ground floor housed the drapery department and the first floor had elegant showrooms which displayed the latest fashionable millinery from Paris and London. Mantles, capes, jackets, blouses, skirts and hosiery were all available.
By 1921 the store was on both sides of Fawcett Street and was supplying ‘everything that is required for human comfort and welfare’. The store then had lounges and a tea room (where a band played regularly), a post office, telephone
rooms and a hairdressing salon. The slogan ‘Shop at Binns for Everything’ was adopted. By 1924 ‘Shop at Binns’ could be seen printed on the front of all the local trams.
We continue the story on Friday.