6th December 1883. Harrods.

It was in 1824 that the 25 year old Charles Henry Harrod founded his shop in Southwark, London, as a mercer, draper and haberdasher. In 1825 it was Harrod and Wicking, Linen and Drapery Retail.

In 1832 he was a grocer, Harrod and Company, Clerkenwell. Two years later he was in Stepney’s, Cable Street, selling tea.

By 1849 he escaped the vice of the city and moved to the present site, Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, ready to take advantage of the nearby Great Exhibition of 1851.

However Today in December 1883 disaster struck when fire destroyed the building, but Charles Digby Harrod who had succeeded in 1861, managed to complete all his Christmas orders.

New building 1884

New building 1884


Harrods’ Fire in 19thc.






It was a chance to modernise and the new building by C.W.Street which opened a year later, saw the store become a place where now women could pursue their domestic interests alone, as spaces were designed solely for the ladies.

However the chances of secret assignations was always a fear in those Victorian times, and so liquor licences were denied.

In 1898 the first escalator in London was introduced, and as the picture below shows many women were taking advantage; sal-volatile and brandy were on hand for those who found the experience too much.


Escalator showing many independent women shoppers.

It was between 1901-5 that the present domed-building, faced with super-opulent terra-cotta, was built, to a design of Stephens and Munt and commissioned by the then managing director, Richard Burbridge.

Fashion Plate 1909.

Fashion Plate 1909.

The new building became a target in March 1912 when several hammer-wielding Suffragettes smashed all the plate-glass windows, which were now a feature of big stores.

Qatar Investments now own Harrods.


Ref: londontopia.net/Pic of 1884 rebuild.

Ref: wikipedia.org/harrods/Pic of Fashion Plate.

Ref: londonencyclopaedia.p386.Christopher Hibbert and Ben Weinreb 2008/Google Bks result.

Ref: bbc.co.uk/news/House of Harrods.

Ref: pinterest.co/Pics of fire and escalator.

Ref: historyhouse.co.uk/article/harrods/pic of horse and cart.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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