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Rackhams Store

Radiorails

master brummie
The Birmingham Co-Op grocery stores often had them. They radiated from a central cash office to parts of the shop. It was a boon for women shopping on their low budgets - quite common of course. They could keep within the money they had; unlike today's impulse shopping in supermarkets which can soon fill trolleys with consequent overspend!
 

John Deeley

proper brummie kid
This may have been posted before but I like it as it shows the pre-Corporation Street store (corner of Bull St/Temple Row) and it has lots of material displayed in the window.
I wonder if that’s because people were still making their own garments in the 1950s, and/or was it because Rackhams had their own tailors in store ? Ironically Burton’s Tailors High Street Art Deco building can be seen to the left. Viv.

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Hi Viviene, there seems to be some interest with the extent of the original Rackhams, which was in fact a site owned and traded as Wilkinson and Riddell until 1881, when they retired to concentrate on their wholesale business and John Rackham the dress fabirc buyer and William Mathews the linen buyer took it over and ran it as Rackham and Mathews, until William Mathews retired in 1888, when it then became known as Rackham and Co and some time later Rackhams.
Even though the Rackhams store as shown on the photo you posted covered an area down Bull Street and up Temple Row up to The Great Western Arcade, the overal site owned by Wilkinson and Riddell was much larger, as you will see from this old layout plan (attached ) of their empire. As for the somewhat amusing comments about goings on " at the Back of Rackhams" this all stemmed from the Olde Royal Hotel ( see other two attached pics ) The place started out very important once with even Royalty staying there in the late 1700's and early 1800's.....but alas by the 1900's the hotel was as the historians put it a house of ill repute and carried on like this right up to when we demolished it for phase Seven of our New Store build program in the late 1960's. So hopefully this will answer some questions many are asking about the layout and exactly the extent of the site. cheers John. ps. just come across another document which may be of interest to some, why the streets around Rackhams were so named.....( attached pic )
 

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John Deeley

proper brummie kid
Hi, Maybe, but i have to admit i dont know it.
This type of Window and shop frontages using quite thin wooden glazing bars and curved glass was very popular througout the Victorian and indeed Edwardian periods. There was a shop in Llandudno, North Wales, called "Clares" i remember, right up to 20 yrs ago, still had one of these Victorian shop fronts intact. Dont know if it still does?.....Maybe. There is another shop i know of that has a very similar one in Evesham, Worcestershire, almost opposite the black and white tudor bank. It sells toys and gifts and model cars and antiques, a real blast from the past, with the same huge curved glass windows.....worth going there, just to see the store frontage.......byeeee john.
 

devonjim

master brummie
A quote from the autobiography of Sir Frank Price* "sitting next to him (Sir Richard Burbridge, chairman of Harrods) I asked if his man could drive into Corporation St. where I could show him Rackhams store. I had heard two days before that it was about to go on the market. The reason I raised it was that the city owned part of the frontage and adjacent buildings at the side and rear of the store and it was in the heart of the shopping area...……. A few weeks later I read that Harrods had bought Rackham's...…..... Nevertheless, the week before it was ready for the opening ceremony Burbridge phoned me "I thought you should know that an announcement is about to be made that House of Fraser have bought Harrods"".
* Sir Frank Price was at that time Chair of the Public Works Committee.
So what we Brummies have called Rackhams for the last fifty years was neither Rackhams nor Harrods but was always House of Fraser.
 
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DavidGrain

master brummie
Lee Longlands in Broad Street had curved glass windows but these were horizontal not vertical. I think only one of them still survives. Another high class furniture store with curved windows like Lee Longlands is Heals in Tottenham Court Road in London. See the lower half of the window in this photo taken from Lee Longlands website
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devonjim

master brummie
Lee Longlands in Broad Street had curved glass windows but these were horizontal not vertical. I think only one of them still survives. Another high class furniture store with curved windows like Lee Longlands is Heals in Tottenham Court Road in London. See the lower half of the window in this photo taken from Lee Longlands website
View attachment 133804
Remember as a very small child almost toppling into this concave space. I suppose I had attempted to look into the window, and gone as to put both hands onto the glass followed by nose to window, and found myself falling forward!
 

Maria Magenta

master brummie
I think there was a shop at the lower end of Belchers Lane that had the sort of window that is thrust forward with a gap and then another similar window - it's hard to describe, but there's a space between two windows that you can go into.
 

poolpit

proper brummie kid
I well remember the Model Aerodrome in the town centre and remember another. It was in Walford Road between Golden Hillock Rd and Stratford Rd. This would have been there in the 1940's, I must have been still playing with lead soldiers. I, bought a lead cowboy, it was all the rage. Horse mounted figures were normally cast as one piece. This cowboy had flexible legs so he could mount and dismount, at least until his legs broke off.

Later I bought a balsa model kit of an Auster aeroplane. It was complete apart from decorating it and I had a go at winding the elastic driven propellor. The plane contracted beyond repair. Boo hoo.
The model shop I remember was on Stratford Road opposite Kyotts Lake Road , I think Barclays Bank was on the corner my uncle and aunt who lived in America would send me as well a parcel of Candy three dollars for my birthday, after cashing them I would cross the road and spend it on a model aeroplane.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
In one of the side streets - either off New Street or Corporation Street (after all it was over 65 years ago );)- there was a two part window with the lower half curved much like the one in the photo in post 86#. As a youngster I was perplexed by this window but I realized, eventually, that it was designed that way to let light into the basement. The basement was lit, partially, by glass blocks set into the pavement or recess beneath the window. A common feature in cities but rare in small towns.
 

Maria Magenta

master brummie
In one of the side streets - either off New Street or Corporation Street (after all it was over 65 years ago );)- there was a two part window with the lower half curved much like the one in the photo in post 86#. As a youngster I was perplexed by this window but I realized, eventually, that it was designed that way to let light into the basement. The basement was lit, partially, by glass blocks set into the pavement or recess beneath the window. A common feature in cities but rare in small towns.
There's something interesting about them - I suppose they're a bit mysterious. There are some in Reading.
 

Robert Ensor (bob)

master brummie
So back in the 70's me mum decided it was time to get rid of the radio grahm so she went to Rackhams and bought the top of the line stereo built by a company that put top of the line audio in classic furniture I could not believe it when it got delivered I ran upstairs got my Meatloaf Bat out of Hell LP and played the hell out of it at full blastl can not recall the company name but they were famous for work
 
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