Express & Star

Beatties – the department store everyone loved to visit

For more than 140 years it was Wolverhampton's favourite store. The big name that dominated the city's shopping centre.

The James Beattie store in 1902 – one of the earliest pictures taken in Victoria Street – 15 years after the firm was founded on that site as the Victoria Drapery Supply Stores

The elegant Victoria Street art deco frontage now reflects the past, but also betrays the years it has been empty, with some of its ornate windows now cracked or boarded up.

Beatties used to be the go-to destination, one of the city’s most iconic and successful businesses.

The elegant Victoria Street art deco frontage of the newly refurbished Beatties flagship store in Wolverhampton in the 1970s

But that was before it all started to go wrong in the late 2000s after ambitious expansion plans ran into trouble and the Beatties chain of department stores were swallowed up by House of Fraser.

The company's landmark store site on the corner of Victoria Street and Darlington Street was sold in a so-called sale-and-leaseback deal worth £47 million in 2006.

The store staggered on until 2019, when it was finally shut up and a new Frasers store opened in its place within the Mander Centre.

Founder James Beattie

Beatties was founded in Victoria Street by local draper and businessman James Beattie. It opened in 1877, when it was called the Victoria Draper Supply Store.