Early 60s Powis street
An Interesting shot showing Marks and Spencer before it was extended on both sides.. The building on the corner of Calderwood st is Ascots camera shop, which also incorporated A.J.Wings chemist.. Smarts menswear was previously a menswear shop called "Weaver to wearer"
Marks and Spencer first appeared in Powis street around 1912-14.
Michael Marks arrived in Britain as a young man during the early 1880s, after leaving his birthplace in Poland to escape anti-Semitic discrimination. He came to Leeds, a growing industrial town with a population of over 160,000. He was attracted by its large Jewish community and job opportunities in the thriving clothing trade.
At the time Marks couldn’t speak English and had no money or particular skills, but a chance meeting led to him setting up his own business and this would become the M&S you know today.
Michael Marks originally traded as a pedlar, carrying his goods around the countryside. In 1884 he took an outdoor stall in Kirkgate Market, on a 6ft x 4ft trestle table. This market only ran on Tuesdays and Saturdays, so Marks also took stalls in nearby Castleford and Wakefield, where the market days were different. In 1886 he moved to the indoor market at Kirkgate, which was open daily and offered shelter from the weather.
He began hiring sales assistants to run the stalls. The girls worked long hours, but Marks did his best to improve conditions, giving them wooden platforms to stand on to keep their feet off the cold stone floor.
Selling simple stock such as haberdashery and hardware goods, he adopted the slogan ‘Don’t ask the price, it’s a penny’. This fixed price system and the open display of goods was very popular. Customers liked being able to inspect the goods and knowing exactly what they would cost, with no need for haggling. By 1890 Marks was running five Penny Bazaars in Leeds, Castleford, Wakefield, Warrington and Birkenhead.
Tom Spencer bought into the firm in 1894 and for £300 became a partner . In 1903 they registered the company name of Marks & Spencer Ltd with a capital of 30,000 £1 shares.
The site of 55- 63 Powis street was first occupied in the 1860s, by Joseph Grisbrook & Co who were a Cabinet makers and upholstery company. A few years later the property was rebuilt and continued to trade as a Cabinet makers, now run by Samuel Barnes.
The shop was let in 1890 to Herbert Bray & Co and was now a furniture shop. The upper floors were let as flats .
By 1912 a Penny Bazaar was operating on the site, this was probably run by Marks & Spencer although they did not own the property till 1914. The Penny arcades were replaced in 1921-22 with a normal shop front. Around that time M & S began to rebuild and rebrand their shops as “Superstores” In 1934 they took on an architect called Robert Lutyens who was responsible the ‘Look’ of M & S that most of us are familiar with ..
Rebuilding of the Woolwich store in the present format came in 1934-5. And in 1936 extensions were made around the back of the corner shop, to provide entrances in Calderwood street and Thomas street .
The last piece of the store came in 1967 when they acquired the corner property which was Ascot Cameras..