Monday, 24 December 2007

We Wish You A Merry Christmas And A Happy New Year!

Each year we set off to buy Christmas presents for friends and loved ones...

Shopping is changing in Cambridge - with the Grand Arcade development well on its way and the new shops on the Bradwell's Court site opening for business. In this article you will find a touch of Cambridge Christmas shopping past. Pictured above is the fondly remembered Joshua Taylor's department store on the corner of Market Street and Sidney Street, looking very picturesque with its lighted Christmas trees in the 1960s.

Joshua Taylor's first store was in Ely, opening in 1810. In 1860, a second store was opened in Cambridge by Joshua Taylor II and sold top quality clothing. Nothing lasts for ever, and we said goodbye to the store in the 1990s. A shame - I remember it as being particularly useful for small presents. Lacking the boring chain store "we sell the same stock across the country" outlook of many late 20th century businesses, I thought that Joshua Taylor's buyers were often inspired, and the store came to my rescue more than once when it came to finding that special little something.

Cambridge Daily News, December 7 1921 - Joshua Taylor has some ideas for gifts for men and, also on the Christmas present theme, Robert Sayle And Co Ltd ask: "Why Not Give Handkerchiefs?" Founded in 1840 by Robert Sayle, the son of a Norfolk farmer, the store became part of the John Lewis Group in 1940, although it continued to trade as Robert Sayle. Following brief relocation to Burleigh Street, the store moved into its new premises on the corner of Downing Street and St Andrew's Street in November this year and is now trading as John Lewis.

W. Eaden Lilley - another fondly remembered Cambridge department store - advertises its Children's Bazaar in November 1927. The store disappeared from Cambridge in 1999 - a great pity - it was a lovely place to browse around and a good source of quality products. Eaden Lilley is still a thriving concern with department stores at Saffron Walden, Great Shelford and St Ives and a photographic service in Green Street, Cambridge.

Our Home Corner - a popular feature in the Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal. This particular Corner is dated November 12 1924 and contains a traditional recipe for Christmas pud, tips on Christmas shopping and advice concerning young women and affectations. Click on image for readable view.

Laurie and McConnal's was another Cambridge department store, this one based in Fitzroy Street. Known around Cambridge as "Laurie's" or "Laurie-McConnal's" (the "and" being dropped!) this store was founded in 1883 and rebuilt after a fire in 1903. A victim of the difficult financial climate of the time and the uncertainty surrounding the Kite redevelopment, Laurie's finally closed down in 1977.

Charles Mitcham's famous department store - the original Mitcham's Corner and now the Two Seasons Sports Shop. The store was founded in these specially built premises in 1909, and expanded into neighbouring buildings.

First prize in the Mitcham's Christmas 1927 competition (a boys' cycle) went to Miss E Hobson of 16, Humberstone Road.

And so back to 2007.

To all those celebrating I wish you a very merry (and not too commercialised!) Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year!


  1. 26 January 2009

    Eaden Lilley announces the closure of its stores in Great Shelford and Saffron Walden. The St Ives Store remains open, but is only trading under the name of Eaden Lilley, being now owned by Chas J Townrow of Braintree. It is possible that trade may pick up in St Ives as it is the terminus of the new Guided Busway which will connect St Ives with Cambridge. It is anticipated that people living in St Ives will find it much easier than previously to commute and find jobs in Cambridge, thus bringing money in to St Ives.

  2. Well done, brings back memories of shopping in the past before I moved away. My heart is still in Cambridge and my old school in Hills Road.

  3. I worked in Joshua Taylors for five years when i left school .A lovely shop , but unfortunately the worst paid in Cambridge . I loved my years there and was sad to hear it had closed .I was twenty one , now fifty .

  4. I remember in the 1980s me and my trendy pals referred to it as "Josh Tosh"! It really was a great place to buy gifts.

  5. I remember in the 1970's getting my school uniform from Joshua Taylor.It is sad to see the shop closed as I wanted to show my children what a lovely shop it was.

  6. In Decembers '64 & '65, I was a Christmas casual in the men's and toy departments of this wonderful store. I learned a lot in those short periods and being paid to help people select the right toy as a Christmas present for someone they loved was one of the best job experiences I've had. Great memories indeed! Especially being funded by the company to escort the beautiful Mary from Women's Fashions to the staff Christmas party. Hi Mary, I wonder if you still remember me? I'll be visiting Cambridge again in July but It won't be the same without Joshua Taylors!

    1. Good to hear from you, Peter. I really must sort out the photographs for this article!