Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Merseyside streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.
A few weeks ago we focused on Blacklers department store after it was damaged in the Liverpool Blitz of May 1941.
This week our main image shows another famous stored gutted by Luftwaffe bombs – Lewis’s in Ranelagh Street.
The building was a burnt-out shell by Saturday May 3rd – the distinctive round arches of the first floor charred and blackened by fire.
The first Lewis’s store in the UK opened in Liverpool when entrepreneur David Lewis started his men’s and boy’s clothing store in 1856. More departments were added over the next 20 years, including an early Christmas grotto in 1879.
Over the years, the Lewis’s grotto – complete with Santa Claus – became an essential part of the festive season for generations of Liverpool children.
Lewis’s expanded beyond Merseyside when stores were opened in Manchester in 1877 and Birmingham in 1885.
The Liverpool store in Ranelagh Street burnt down in 1886 and was rebuilt. It was refurbished again in 1957. The Liverpool Resurgent statue over the corner entrance symbolised the city’s recovery after World War II.
During the 1950s, the Red Rose restaurant and self-service cafeteria on the 5th floor were the places to meet and eat in the city. The lifts were manned by attendants as there were no controls for shoppers to operate.
Liverpool was the last of the Lewis’s chain to carry on trading. It went into liquidation in March 2007 but was sold to Vergo Retail and continued to use the Lewis’s name.
The store closed permanently in May 2010.
*Many more images from Then and Now will feature in a brilliant new book from publishers iNostalgia. Watch out for more details soon.