TapAre you being served?

Whilst buying a mattress yesterday, we were chatting to the assistant and realised how many of the old independent department stores had vanished from Bristol since we have been here. These are the ones that I can remember…

  • Jolly’s on Whiteladies Road—I don’t remember using this one much and it closed soon after we came here. Part of the premises is now occupied by Maskreys furniture shop.
  • Taylors on Queens Road—A smaller one. I think it was taken over by Debenhams who soon closed it. Habitat who were on the Triangle moved here and it is still going.
  • Maggs on Queens Road—This one was a little down market and we used it a lot. Members of the family used to be prominent on the city council but it virtually closed in the late ’70s just leaving a basement hardware store and then even that went. Now there are a row of separate shops.
  • Next door was Brights, the posh neighbour—We used this one quite a bit as well and there was a hotel behind, run by the same family, which parents used when coming up for graduation. It closed or was taken over (I am not sure which) by Dingles, a branch of House of Fraser. They did an huge refit, gutting the insides and rebuilding. There was a terrific fuss when they changed the frontage and added funny little cupola arches. Later they dropped the independent name and finally moved out. Now there is a branch of Borders and some smaller shops on the ground floor but I have no idea what is in the extensive space above.
  • Lewis’s on the Horsefair—they had their own bank in the shop which, by the time we knew it, was a subsidiary of Lloyds but retained it’s identity. This was a true city centre department store over 6 floors with a restaurant on the mezzanine. It was taken over/replaced by John Lewis, no previous connection but confusing, before they moved out of town to Cribbs Causeway. Then it was empty for a bit before being taken on by Bentalls of Reading for a short while until House of Fraser moved from Queens Road. Recently they moved on to the brand new Cabot Circus so now it is empty again.
  • Next door was and still there is the national chain store, Debenhams.

So now there is only Gardiner Haskins, which is connected to Gardiners of Cirencester and Haskins of Shepton Mallet. It is a sprawling ramshackle place off the beaten track behind Old Market. It always looks like it can’t survive the year out but somehow keeps going. It is staffed by the old school assistants who are also ramshackle and off the track just like Grace Brothers and you keep expecting John Inman to pop up behind a sofa and say “Are you being served, sir?

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