'THE PEOPLE'S POPULAR EMPORIUM': A SHORT HISTORY OF GAMAGES OF HOLBORN, CYCLING AND ATHLETIC OUTFITTERS, 1878-1935
Speaker: Dr Geraldine Biddle-Perry (Central St Martins College of Art and Design)
Shops, shopping and shopkeepers were at the heart of the massive and wide-scale technological and social change that took place in Britain in the nineteenth century. This paper traces the evolution of modern sports and leisure retailing, focusing on the development of the London department store, Gamages, from a small hosier’s shop in 1878 to what the Daily Mail in 1904 described as ‘the world’s largest sport and athletic outfitters’.
Calling his store ‘The Peoples' Popular Emporium’, Gamage’s gained the reputation of offering everything the progressively home-centred suburbanite might desire in the way of travel, sports and leisure goods and ‘novelties’, at a price they could afford. The huge four-and-a-half acres of the first floor 'Grand Bazaar' exuded a market-place atmosphere that was further emphasized by a 'maze' of different rooms, floors and other smaller specialized departments. Located in the commercial/clerical heart of the city (rather in the more fashionable areas of the West End), the store offered its customers daily musical and histrionic entertainments, an American soda fountain and large working models of for example Tower Bridge.
Gamages’ appeal lay in a reputation for accessibility rather than its exclusivity. Walter Gamage its founder, from the start directly targeted a burgeoning mass market enjoying participation in new forms of sporting and recreational activities - but one that equally sought to differentially express and visibly display a new-found economic, social and athletic status.
Dr Biddle-Perry is an Associate Lecture in Cultural Studies at Central St Martins College of Art and Design. She has published on the emergence and development of British Olympic team clothing and is currently working on a monograph looking at mainstream fashion and outdoor leisure in the period of austerity following the Second World War.
Time and Date: 5:15 PM, Monday, 11th February.
Location: Bloomsbury Room (Room G35), Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.
All are welcome. For more information, please contact Dion Georgiou, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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