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The Story of Alders Department Store

Allders started life in 1862 when 24 year old Joshua Allder set up a linen draper and silk mercer at 102 find 103 North End.

Image: Allders in 1896

By 1870 the business was extended from 104 to 107 North End and alterations to the shop included a mourning department, which proved a profitable move due to the Victorian's elaborate and pro­longed funeral ceremonies.

Throughout the last quarter of the 18th century Joshua Allder did much to increase the prosperity and the amenities of Croydon.

In 1886 he was elected as councillor for the west ward of the town in the first borough elections and later that year was chosen to be an alderman.

Image right: Allders in 1984

Image: Allders in 1910

It is believed Mr Allder sold his business on retiring in 1902 but other reports claim the date was nearer 1908, four years after his death, when members of his family took the decision to sell.

Allders was sold again in 1921 and became a limited company. Four years later work began on the arcade, believed to have been inspired by the 'spectacular' one opposite flamboyant store Kennards.

It became one of the store's most popular features, in 1932 the old stables at the rear - all that was left of the old coaching inn The Swan - were knocked down and a new arcade was built to link with the existing one running from .North End and George Street.

In January 1944, Allders took a direct hit from one of two bombs dropped on Croydon. While one went through the roof of the Davis Theatre the second destroyed Allders' main staircase.

Image: Allders in 1914

As a result the ground and first floors were refurbished to include Croydon's first escalator.

In 1952 the Scala cinema was acquired and a new hardware and gift hall was set up in the old auditorium.

Crippling death duties following the death of the then managing director the following year meant that the company had to be sold to the United Drapery Group (UDG) in 1958.

As the store was sold, turnover reached £l million for the first time.

Between 1960 and 1969 Allders acquired the House of Savage in George Street and began a new building in the Whitgift Centre.

Image: Allders in 1951

By the end of the decade it had four shop fronts in North End, Dingwall Avenue, George Street and in the Whitgift Centre itself.

Growth continued throughout the 1970s and in 1976 Allders could boast that it had become the third largest department store in the country, beaten only by Harrods and Selfridges.

UDS decided to name its other stores after the flagship Allders. In 1983 UDG was taken over by the Hanson Trust and in 1967 the store celebrated its 126th anniversary.

In March 198S the Hanson Trust agreed to a £250 million management buyout led by Allders' chief executive and managing director.

Some of the information in this article was taken from 100 Years of Croydon At Work by Paula Mclnnes and Bill Sparkes, published in 1991.

Last modified: 10th November 2010 - Copyright Canning and Clyde Residents Association
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