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Lewis's

jude

master brummie
Hello Anne,
Lewis's ahhhhhhhh I remember it well, having been born in Newhall St in 1947 ( my parents were caretakers of a block of offices) It was my play ground! I was well known by most of the staff at Lewis's and most of the other shops too, I was christened by the restraunt staff as the Apple Charlotte baby as my folks used to meet up at lunch time and my Mom used to have an Apple Charlotte cake every day!
I remember the rooftop playground and pets corner vividly. Remember the long haul up those stairs to see Father Christmas in his grotto?
I remember the Hornby railway section too In fact one birthday or Christmas......... the memories fades a bit here ha ha.......... I must have spent the best part of the morning walking around the toy section my Mom was tearing her hair out as she wanted me to have a doll and I was having none of it. I wanted a train set and a Meccano set and got them too in the end! I ended up with quite a good lay out as my Dad laid it all down on ply board in the spare room. I had hours of fun with my train set imagining all the places I could travel too. I guess thats why I'm a bit of a gypsy at heart love to travel now.
You know Anne I think maybe our paths have crossed in the past, dont know how old you are but I belonged to the Diving club at Woodcock St baths, I swam and dived for my school Paget Road, also Erdington, Birmingham and the Midland counties as it was then. '59 through to 62.
 

Alf

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Hey Jude nice to see you back have you just got over your Birthday:D
 

jude

master brummie
Hi Alf, Thank you, I wished ha ha nope just got back from our family vacation all 20 of us.............. mind you I think I need another to get over that one !!!!!!!!!!!
 

Anne Jessel

master brummie
Trains and Woodcock Street!

Hi Jude,
iI's lovely to hear all these common interests. Are you still train crazy. have you been on the Orient Express?
Re. Woodcock Street, I trained there during 1951 - 1958, I was out for a couple of years due to a Sports Injury, then back again 1960 - 1962. Studies took over then I moved South and it started all over again until I went into coaching, and I'm as involved to this present day.
You never know our paths may have crossed. Do you recognise any of the names I mentioned. It's a small world.
Leave a note of your memories of Woodcock Street on my website?

Chris,
My son-in-law relates to your post very much!
 

Chris B

master brummie
Lewis's store

Hi All,
it was great reading about Lewis's department store, I worked there from about 1957 to 1965,Starting on the Luggage department under Mr Smith in "A" block ending up as assistant Manager on the Do It Yourself Dept under Paul Whitfield in "B" block. During my training I worked for Miss Carter on the China Dept, but most of my time was spent on the Gardening Dept which Mr John Smith also managed. I also did some part time lift driving when the gardening dept wasn't busy around christmas time, I had to run the express lift from the 5th floor toy department down to the ground floor to help clear the crowds. I used to put the lights out and fly back up from the ground non stop much to the disgust of people waiting on the other floors when I stopped on the 5th and opened the gates you nearly got killed in the stampede. I stood outside untill the rush died down, then you had to put a few of the people off because they had left no room to operate the car or to shut the gates. You put the handle over and the car dropped like a stone, and as you applied the brake as you passed the first floor everyone went ooohhh, as the hung onto their stomachs, I used to say "Hope you've got strong elastic ladies" and laugh. I remember taking my lift driving test and it was one of the engineers who tested me John I think, some times Mr Stokes the chief engineer used to pass you out and give you your licence which I still have. I was always facinated by the lifts and when I first started I used to get on well with the 2 lady lift drivers on the "A" block side, Mrs Batchelor and Mrs Attenborough, (Batch & Atty) we called them, and they used to let me have a go and I stood behind them and operated the car so that Frank Wilson the supervisor couldn't see me, Albert the staff lift driver was always a bit rude and miserable to most people. Joe the senior driver on the "B" block was a character always laughing and joking. Originally I had the lift driving licence because I had to stop behind at night when I was on the gardening dept and take the plants up to a small roof area (not the main roof) and give them a watering and bring them down in the morning before the store opened. I remember having to take a load of counters up to the 6th floor with the porter before the General Managers inpection ( Mr Mountford I think) and the lift was full of them, as I passed the 5th floor I went to half speed, nothing happened, then shut off nothing happened much, it only slowed slightly, thankfully we were carrying some weight which slowed us down, then crash we hit the roof of the shaft, it was like being on a ship wreck, counters all over the place, the car bounced down to half way between the 5th and 6th floors, so I just touched the handle over and the car drifted to the 6th and we got out and went back down in another car and reported the fault to the engineers. The Assistant General Manager was Mr Andrews, he was a gent and I got on very well with him. Mr Cashin was the basement Floor Manager, he helped me a lot to further my career, Mr Smith Gardening and Luggage Manager, Mr Leamington Paint & Wall, paper, Mr Hogg Turnery, Mr England tools, Mr T*** was the Assistant Manager on the luggage, I didn't get on very well with him, today he would be accused of being a bully. Mr Goldsmith was the Counting house Manager, always looked a bit miserable, Mr Harris personnel Manager, Miss Hill Personnel, Mr Newcombe parcels delivery office, Mr Fields House Superintendant, Miss Carter China, Miss Irving cash office, Was it Mr Proudfoot in charge of the receiving room ? Then you had all the part time firemen who did the portering and supplemented the lift driving staff, Ginger Jones, Scooter Coombs, leading fireman Bill Carrington lived out towards Sutton. I met my wife there, she was a "Mobile" ( had to work wherever there was a shortage of staff) she was only 5ft and 1/2 inch and is, now 4foot 11 plus, and couldn't reach the big brown tills on the gardening dept so I got her a daffodil crate to stand on, and we got told off because someone reported us for having a kiss and canoodle in our lunch break on the roof.Miss ? and Lynne were in staff training. Joe Carney wrote the display tickets out free hand with a paint brush. Stan & Horace were 2 of the comissionaires. Len Ashman operated the paper and cardboard press in the sub basement somewhere by the clocking in clocks. Fred ? was in the part where you had to hand in your parcels and bags etc', The Luggage department stock room was part of the old lampson tube room, and the tubes were just cut off clean to the wall.They were good days I used to go on day release and night school to get my certificates, and then I left and went into a factory for a couple of years to get some money for a deposit on a house and get married. Remember the Tyburn Depot in Eachelhurst Road, Mr Sydney Lemmon on the despatch (Pronounced Le Mon not as the fruit)
and the Furniture Depository in Hockley.
I Must stop there probably finish off in another posting, that is if you are not fed up already
Regards Chris B
 
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jennyann

master brummie
Staff member
Hi Chris:
Thanks for posting a lot of your memories of your time at Lewis`s. I certainly shopped there a lot during most of those years. Was the Luggage Department in the basement. I remember buying my first Cabin Trunk there and getting it delivered to our house in Erdington and a few years later I came back and bought another one.
I certainly remember the lifts and how crowded they were at times. I was fascinated by the older lifts when I was very young. It was quite an experience to ride in those lifts where you could see the cables through the side glass panels. Did you have to say `Going up`or `Going Down`` and describe the merchandise on each floor.
It looks like lots of couples met at Lewis`s and got married. It must have been like a little town with so many people working there and you seem to remember so many which is great.
I always loved the sales at Lewis`s. Those were the days and glad that
you have a lot of happy memories there.
 
5

500miles

Guest
The thing I remember most about Lewis's in the early 70's was the loose biscuits you could buy in the food hall. Also, as a young girl I loved the tiny paper bags they put loose sweets in - I remember they had a lovely flower design.
Everyone always seemed to dress up to go into town in those days. My dad was always in a suit and tie. Were there restaurants called the 'Card Room' and the 'Four Seasons' or were these somewhere else?
 

Chris B

master brummie
Lewis's store cont'

Hi All,
after a good nights sleep and with the old grey cells revived as Poirot would say. On second thoughts It Was Mr Proudlock who was in charge of the Goods Receiving Room, and the firemans name was Leading Fireman Bill Carrington a very charming man who used to give all the lady customers the chat and sales patter. Miss Eden was in charge of staff training, and Miss Print, no it's not a joke, was in charge of the welfare dept. There was a little American fellow called Dan who was the porter on the china dept, and if you stood in the basement stair well you could hear him coming along with his little truck in the sub basement and the china was clattering away over the uneven floor, and Miss Carters dulcit tones shouting over the balustrading "DAN-N-N-N" and the reply came with an American accent "Coming Miss Carter", luckily he was very laid back as was Alec Wasteney (not sure of the spelling) her assistant Manager, I think you had to be. Bob Pinfield was the assistant Manager on the gardening, and he used to get me to tidy up the stock room, and in return he would man the till using my sales button so that I wouldn't loose my commission. Mr Frank Cashin the Merchandise manager would hold sales managers meetings at the back of the office that was under the central staircase that led up to the food hall, and he would ask me to go and get him "an ounce of gold block, a packet of pipe cleaners, 20 senior service, and half a bottle of Gordons gin, and oh don't let Miss Morris (his secretary) see the gin" she used to tell him off for drinking. Frank Cashin used to say me "I've worked for this company for 40 years and every day I learn something new". When I was promoted to Assistant Manager on the D.I.Y section where we used to sell timber and Formica cut to size, Larry was the Irish chap who use to do all the cutting up and in that area of the store you still had a very basic air conditioning system and you could still see the sluice channels to wash the blood away in the cutting room from the days it was used as an emergency operating theatre during the war. In answer to the question did I call out the floors whilst driving the lifts, Yes I did, here goes as best as I can remember, "B" block side Basement, gardening, china, do it youself, paint and wall paper, through the tunnel to the hardware dept. Ground floor food hall, 1st floor mens wear, 2nd floor ladies coats gowns and costumes, cross over and one down for lending library and singer sewing machines, 3rd floor I think
was soft furnishings and curtain materials bed linens, cross over for ladies hairdressing, prams nursery furniture etc (not to sure about that one) 50 years ago now ) 4th floor furniture, and lighting,5th floor carpets, lino, toy dept, cross over for the restaurant 6th floor personnel, welfare, counting house, staff canteen, 3 cups for sixpence stir with it your finger, this was a bit of a laugh because it was a subsidised canteen, the spam fritters were lovely. There were 3 main store detectives watching you and the customers plus an undercover squad who you didn't know to catch people who were up to no good. Miss Irving was in charge of the cash office, I can remember finding the keys to the enormous safe in the sub basement just lying on a box down there, they were pleased when I handed those in.
to be continued if you are not bored by now.
Regards Chris Bryan
 
C

Catkin

Guest
Hello Chris, I worked at lewis's on the fifth floor toy Department only for the Christmas period i was a demonstrator for a London Company. I remember stan the commissionaire and Fred in the Basement i think Mr Turner was the manager when i was there, there where two other girls that worked there Angeline and Eve both lived in the Ridgeway next door but one to me, i loved the bread and butter pudding that they served up in the canteen. I must admit i had great fun there and you must have taken me in the lift at one time. Happy days:)
 

Chris B

master brummie
The thing I remember most about Lewis's in the early 70's was the loose biscuits you could buy in the food hall. Also, as a young girl I loved the tiny paper bags they put loose sweets in - I remember they had a lovely flower design.
Everyone always seemed to dress up to go into town in those days. My dad was always in a suit and tie. Were there restaurants called the 'Card Room' and the 'Four Seasons' or were these somewhere else?
I think the Restaurant at Lewis's was called the Ranelagh Room after a street in Liverpool where the company may have started?
Regards Chris
 
C

carole-fordy

Guest
:)There was always a man to operate the lift in Lewis's, he even announced what floor and what was there...Ladies..Childrens...Gents etc...He had a little seat and wore a uniform & Gloves.
 

shavedfish49

master brummie
Chris B. I really enjoyed reading your very detailed stories Chris, what a great memory you have! Nice to know not everyone suffers apparent pre-senile dementia. I can't remember names at all and have often been stuck when bumping into an old work colleague.
Lewis's seemed a very happy place for it's workers as I've met several over the years who thoroughly enjoyed their time there and wished it was still trading.
 

Jayell

master brummie
I remember as a child being stuck in one of the glass-sided lifts at Lewis's. The lift was packed when it broke down between floors and I was jammed in the corner looking out at the cables down the lift shaft. I was petrified. Unfortunately I have always been nervous of lifts since then.

I remember there used to be a small zoo on the top floor near the Toy Dept. My sister had her photo taken with a baby lion cub - she was standing behind glass at the back of the lion's cage but it looked as though she was in the cage with it.

Every year we went to see Father Christmas in his Grotto on the top floor, and had to queue for ages up the stairs to get there. There was an open drop from the top to the bottom floors and I think they closed the stairs off after a child fell down it.

What a shame it closed down, it was a wonderful store.
 

George Wheeler

master brummie
Lewis's Pets Corner

My father worked at Lewis's and was friendly with the manager of the pets corner. I thought he was the person who died after being bitten by a parrot. All the pets corner closed after this incident, this saw the opening of the roof gardens to lure shoppers in to the store.

A point not probably of much interest was that the lifts had a D.C. supply, they were so reliable that when the city centre change over from D.C to an A.C. supply rectifiers were installed to keep them operating.
 

George Wheeler

master brummie
They did have escalators in Lewis's. While my mother shopped I used to play with the moving handrail, usually sticking bits of paper on to see if they would come back. One day I was dragged up by it when my signet ring caught in a hook where the belt was joined. I traveled some distance before the ring broke and I fell in to the pile of empty biscuit tins stacked at that point. I seemed to remember it caused quite a commotion.
 

GER22VAN

master brummie
All I remember of the restaurant were those nickerbocker glory's they sold for
2/6 ( 12p + 1/2 pence ) OHHH So Wonderful.
 

Chris B

master brummie
More about Lewis's

Hi All,
just remembered I was supposed to post some more thoughts about Lewis's. During the time I was working on the Gardening dept we used have "Mobile Sales Staff" available to cover holidays illness etc' and you used to phone the staff office to ask for one or two mobiles for the day, my future wife June started as a mobile and on this day she was sent to the gardening dept,' when she arrived she was only 5 foot nothing and she had difficulty reaching the big brown 4 drawer tills, plus the fact they allocated her a drawer in the top rank, and although she wore stiletto heels to come to work she changed into flat shoes whilst on the job, double jeopardy, so I found an empty daffodil bulb crate and put it upside down by the till for her to stand on to operate the thing. She had also worked on the ice cream not the machines but one of the freezers by the door in the Minories / Bull st entrance, being of diminutive stature on one occassion to serve an ice cream she had to lean that far into the fridge her feet were off the ground and she nearly fell in and lost her hat in the freezer. I used to get in early some mornings so that I could drive the lift and take the girls from the audit office to the departments to read the tills and change the till rolls. ( There were quite a few dolly birds in that office) For some fun sometimes I would peg the lift operating handle over with my pen, put the lights out and tip toe around the lift car and make them jump, oh the screams that filled the air, but it was all good clean fun, it wouldn't be politically correct today (how boring). My girlfriend June eventually had a regular position on the electrical section in the basement, and when the staff sold a mains tester screwdriver they usually opened the side of the till and stuck it on the positive connection to show the customer the neon glowed o.k, so June thought that was a good idea, when she sold one she opened the door and stuck the metal end in and the promptly slipped, and in so doing the metal end of the screwdriver shorted across the 2 terminals and there was a blue flash and the entire sales island was in darkness, "OOpps". The Merchandise Manager Mr Cashin had this little saying if some member of staff was not to clever, he would say "they lack the divine spark" he was very good to me and put me forward for promotion, when I had to go for the interview I wasn't wearing a white shirt, the one I had on had a small check design, "You can't go in that" he said, "Go to the mens wear dept and get a white one and have it charged to my account". After we left we kept in touch with him as he had now retired, by sending christmas cards and the occassional visit, he had moved up to the Manchester area and set up shop in partnership with a friend of his, one of the last cards we had off him before he died said "nearly the last to remember me" which we found a bit sad, after that we didn't get another one so we assumed as you do that he had died.

Regards Chris B
 
M

maggie

Guest
Chris.

I also worked at Lewis's and and remember Mr Harris, Miss Carter and Mr Leamington, do you remember a Mrs Waldron who workd in the six floor personel offices?

My sisiter-in-law also worked in the store, and I remember one lunch time, we went to have a photograh taken with two chimps this was associated with a promotion taken place at the time, We smiled our biggest smiles, the camera clicked and just at that prescise moment the chimp I was holding peed on me. I certainly was not smiling when I returned to my deprtment, smelling of a chimps pee. Needless to say sister -in-law laughed herself silly. So would you if you saw the photograph.
Maggie
 

Chris B

master brummie
Hi Maggie,
I can vaguely remember the name but I can't put a face to the person, they were good old days, we thought we had problems then but little did we know !!! lol
Regards Chris B
 
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