Blackler's Department Store, Great Charlotte Street, Liverpool, December 1938
A photograph possibly unseen since the time of its initial supply in 1938, shows the interior of Blackler's original department store on the Great Charlotte Street site, decorated for Christmas of that year. The image is from a large format negative (10x12 inches, 254x304mm) within the Stewart Bale photographic collection.
This building was badly damaged during the Second World War; a bomb had set the nearby store of Lewis's Ltd ablaze and wind borne burning debris and sparks spread fire through the broken windows and broken glass roof of Blacker's. The intensity of the resulting inferno completely gutted the shop's interior and Blacker's later underwent a rebuild, the first part of which was completed in 1953 (see the rebuilt interior in this photograph from 1958).
This earlier interior displays a greater elegance than its successor, with a more decorative and generous staircase and an airy central feature in the form of an arched glass roof, supported by a series of cast-iron graduated curves, which channelled daylight into the main aisle below. The overall design, though, remained very similar, even down to the retention of the principal Christmas decoration; a massive figure of a Father Christmas astride the first landing on the central staircase, although this earlier figure carries a less fierce expression.
The store displays masses of stock, some in rather precarious piles; imagine spotting one of those fetching knits on the 'Boys' counter (just left of centre) somewhere near the bottom! A great Christmas image, full of busy displays at pre-decimal prices, seasonal references and sparkly lights, although the parrot seems slightly miscast; possibly it was a permanent feature donning its lights just for the season. An un-peopled view, this allows us to explore the interior in greater detail and offers a fascinating glimpse into what a shop floor in a major department store in Liverpool would have looked like at Christmas 75 years ago and the type of goods you could find there. Another gem from the Stewart Bale collection.
Commissioned by Blackers Stores Ltd.
Stewart Bale photographic collection,
negative number 38961-1