Express & Star

42 nostalgic photos of Wolverhampton Beatties in its prime

It was the place we all knew and loved, the place you could find everything you needed, the place you thought of when you heard 'Boxing Day sales'.

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What was a shining beacon on Victoria Street for more than 140 years is now merely a shell – with its ornate windows smashed and its inside stripped of whatever remained, which was mostly debris and old furniture.

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.

By 1895, the firm employed 40 members of staff and was enjoying an annual turnover of £30,000 – but fortunes took a turn for the worse when, only a year later, a huge fire ripped through the building, forcing it to be demolished and rebuilt.

The blaze also destroyed much of the store's stock. What remained had to be sold to buy more items to refill the shelves.

The art deco style building was bought for £6.15 million earlier this year – it had been facing an uncertain future following the collapse of its previous owner in November last year.

Restoration work is expected to recommence this summer after the property was bought by the Middlesex-based Eden group.

New life is now expected to be breathed into the building, with the ground floor expected to be used for retail, with more than 400 apartments planned for the upper levels.

Earlier this year, director of Eden group George Dhillon said building work would resume in July, with the first apartments going on sale about 12 months later.

Here are 42 nostalgic photos from Beatties' past, near and far.

The Beattie family
Official opening of the Beatties extension in Victoria Street in November 1897. Photo: Trevor Roberts
The 2011 Wolverhampton Christmas Lights switch on in Queen Square. A firework display from the roof top of Beatties, November 2011
Going back in time, Beatties employee Louise Colley in full Victorian costume to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Wolverhampton store on June 16, 2007.