As the 20th century progressed, so a modest drapery establishment started by Henry Binns grew to eventually become the largest department store on Wearside.
Which Sunderland store had two buildings on opposite sides of the road with a subway to connect them – as well as a post office, hairdressers and a telephone room? And a spiral staircase which drew plenty of admiring glances.
The answer, of course, is Binns and we take a look at its history with the help of Philip Curtis from Sunderland Antiquarian Society.
Binns shop in Fawcett Street with ornate street lamps in front. In 1884, Binns was in High Street West but, to expand, two residences in Fawcett Street were bought and converted into a shop.
A Binns drapery delivery van in the early 20s. 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.
Binns between the wars.
In April 1941, disaster struck when most of the Fawcett Street premises were destroyed after a heavy bombing raid.
Within three days the store was operating again from the converted motor store in Holmeside but many staff had to be laid off.
Fawcett Street without Binns in 1946. The rebuilding of the west side of Fawcett Street began in 1949.
Construction of Binns store in 1951. The new store opened in March 1953 with five storeys and a façade made from Portland stone. The same year saw the House of Fraser secure a majority shareholding in the company.
Binns in 1962 on the east side of Fawcett Street. The food department was on the ground floor - who can recall Strawberry Time at Binns?
The east side was rebuilt in 1962 and featured a spiral staircase leading to the restaurants and furniture department.
A Christmas view of Binns in December 1960. Did you do your Christmas shopping there?
Eventually an underground passage was opened in the store leading from one side of Fawcett Street to the other. Shoppers could then move from one side of the store to the other without having to cross the busy road.
There were always long queues for Binns sales. Remember them?
Our thanks go to Philip and Sunderland Antiquarian Society. To find out more about the society, visit its Facebook page or its website at http://www.sunderland-antiquarians.org
And to tell us more about your own memories of Sunderland in years gone by, email [email protected]