Debenhams once enjoyed 178 stores across the country, including premises in Winchester, Fareham and Portsmouth. Its Southampton store was shut during the first lockdown of 2020 and never reopened.

Originally, the building on Queen’s Way was home to another department store, Edwin Jones. Both have been captured in these pictures showing the latest fashions, visits from Saints players and Santa's grotto.

It’s been more than 60 years since the building we know today was erected after the original Edwin Jones store was destroyed during the blitz of the Second World War in 1940.

Daily Echo:

A Daily Echo report at the time described the building as being “the most up-to-date departmental store in the South.”

The official opening took place on March 10, 1959, and a celebration dinner was held in the store’s Queen’s Restaurant the night before to mark the grand occasion.

The chairman of Debenhams, J Bedford, spoke of the city’s history including links with Alfred the Great, King Canute, Henry II, the Black Prince, Henry V and the Pilgrim Fathers.

He also spoke of Debenhams’ founding in 1778.

Daily Echo: Saints players in Debenhams in 1976

“I believe the future of Southampton will be even more glorious than its past,” declared Mr Bedford. “We have given proof of it here because we have spent already half a million more than we received in compensation for war damage.

“We believe that the future of Southampton is greater than its past and we look with anticipation to playing our part in the future history of Southampton as a city whose boundaries cannot be defined.”

Mr Bedford expressed the hope that Southampton would soon be elevated to the dignity of a city - something that of course happened on February 24, 1964.

Memories of the pre-war store were recounted and the difficulties with which staff worked during the war were spoken of.

Daily Echo:

Women represented 85 per cent of their customers and the store occupied Queen’s Buildings in Queen’s Way - so it was fitting the new store was opened by a lady - Mrs Bedford.

The managing director, Mr C Douglas Smith, heaped praise on everyone who came together in the building of the new store and was presented a gold watch for the work he had carried out in its organisation.

Although owned by Debenhams since 1928, the store kept the name Edwin Jones until 1973.