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.

Our main image this week shows the familiar Owen Owen department store in Clayton Square just before Christmas 1983.

Decorations and window displays are in place ready for the final festive rush – in contrast to the hoarding and scaffolding in photographer Nicola Mazzuia’s modern snapshot.


Cars and lorries were parked outside the store in 1983 with traffic lights outside the main entrance.

Owen Owen, the man who founded the Liverpool-based store chain that kept his name, came from a family of Welsh hill farmers. He opened his first shop, the draper’s emporium at 121 London Road, Liverpool, in 1868.

More space was needed as the emporium expanded and a large purpose-built department store was opened on Clayton Square in the 1920s. The impressive building was originally designed as a luxury hotel.

Owen Owen quickly grew into a national chain with the Clayton Square store as its flagship. At its peak, Owen Owen operated more than 30 stores across the UK in locations as varied as Birkenhead and Brighton.

The Owen family sold the business in the 1980s but the name continued. In 1991, Owen Owen bought several Lewis’s stores, including Manchester, and briefly traded under the title of Lewis’s Owen Owen.

The company was taken over by Philip Green in 1994 and the Owen Owen store in Clayton Square finally closed its doors in 1995.