Worthing staff look back at store’s history

Photo of Marks and Spencer, Worthing, from 1930s
Photo of Marks and Spencer, Worthing, from 1930s

STAFF at the Worthing branch of Marks & Spencer have discovered photographs which reveal the history of the iconic building.

While clearing out offices at the Montague Street store, employees uncovered four photographs showing the shop front in the 1930s and the 1960s or 70s.

M&S at it looks today

M&S at it looks today

Graham Lelliott, facilities adviser, said: “After a good tidy-up of one of the offices, the four photographs came to light and fascinated all who were able to see them.”

Two of the photographs, which were taken in the early 1930s, show that the store was much smaller and Montague Street was open to traffic. Portland Road continued on towards the sea – through where the current store, in its enlarged form stands.

The site for the Worthing store at 51 to 53 Montague Street was acquired in March, 1936. It was formerly occupied by Morecraft & Son, Drapers and Milliners. The new store opened on in August, 1936, with a frontage of 59 feet and a sales area of 9,900 square feet.

Graham said: “In 1959, the property to the right of the store, 51 Montague Street, was acquired for the store expansion. Regular M&S contractors Bovis extended and modernised the store. The extended and refurbished store re-opened in March, 1963. The work was finally completed in May, increasing the store frontage to 120ft and the total sales area to 16,700 sq. ft. With the original store still in place, the extension replicated the original building and had a central column which, so to speak, gave a line of symmetry down the centre.

“The outside hanging clock, which can be seen in the early photographs, was subsequently moved to the centre column where it still survives to this day in working order.”

The other two photographs, which are believed to have been taken in the 1960s or 70s, show the extension work, along with the original building on the left and the relocated hanging clock.

The final image shows the inside of the store looking towards Montague Street, with general merchandise on the left and foods on the right, and is presumed to have been taken shortly after the extension.

Graham added: “Today, as we know, Montague Street is now pedestrianised and despite minor changes to the store frontage in 2008, the store still retains its grand frontage, which in my opinion is one of the best in Worthing with regard to architecture.

“Store frontages in Worthing would unquestionably go unnoticed but it is interesting to see, in some cases, the original architecture hiding above and behind the modern day shop frontage.”

Graham said the photographs will be kept safe in the store for the next person to find.