Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Famous of Cheltenham bites the dust

'The Famous', a high class menswear shop in Cheltenham, opened in 1886 selling trousers for 13 shillings (65p) a suit for 30 shillings (£1.50) and overcoats for 5 shillings(25p).
Lamson vacuum system
Cash flow: The tube system for the business was installed in 1930 and is thought to be one of the oldest of its type in the country; the capsules are filled with cash by the shop assistants on the shop floor and sent along tubes using vacuum technology to the Cashier's Office.
This particular Lamson Vacuum System will be going to a museum.
When The Famous opened its doors Queen Victoria was on the throne. It was the year of the first ever Crufts dog show, and the year that Arsenal Football Club was established. In that same year Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published.
A jacket for you sir?
Sadly, with its courteous assistants, old world charm, wonderful wooden shelves, and ambience - everything must go before the shop finally closes its doors after 126 years of trading.
images courtesy Mail Online

46 comments:

  1. Hallo Rosemary!Very nice retrograde in the beautiful past!After so many years it must close!I'm very sorry for this,with such a great tradition!Wish you a lovely Sunday!I enjoy readind your post!
    Dimi..

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    1. It is a unique shop Dimi that sadly will be no more. Many of the things that they sell are not available in the large department stores nor the service that they give. Thanks of your comment.

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  2. It is very sad. I wish places like that could survive the modern world. I wonder why people don't bother to support such beauties. Every time I go to the local shoping center (which is not often) I get sick to my stomach. Everything looks just the same...

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    1. You have hit the nail on the head Demie - everything does look the same. All high streets in most countries carry the same range of shops wherever you go. Everything, sadly has been standardised.

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  3. Dear Rosemary,
    It is very sad when these links with the past, with personalised service, and with quality, are lost. I guess it is the way of the world but it doesn't make their going any easier does it.
    Interestingly we had a large clothing and general purpose shop here in our village. The owner wanted to retire but could get no one to take on the business. He kept it going for a few more years but as absolutely no one would take it on he closed up. The building has now stood empty for over a year. We villagers miss it a lot and if we want the things he provided we must go into town which sometimes is rather a chore - especially in winter.
    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - it seems to be a typically worldwide phenomena to make everything uniformly the same. It is the big conglomerates that hold the power over our high streets today.

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  4. You certainly have to deliver quality if your shop can survive for such a long time. A lot of choice.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I am sad that this shop is closing Filip, they sell high quality jumpers, shirts etc in a lovely range of colours, but they are expensive compared with the regular high street store.

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  5. Hello Rosemary, So many of these old-time shops have gone that survivals are increasingly rare, and each new loss is something to mourn. At least they didn't "modernize' the shop in a last-ditch attempt to keep going.

    I'm surprised that a men's shop needed the pneumatic system--I thought they were more for larger complexes, like department stores. Anyway, it is ultra-cool seeing it intact and in-situ.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Jim - I didn't realise that they had the Lamson vacuum system until I read about it recently.
      I always associated them with bigger department stores too. When I was a child, the main store in our town had one that linked all of the various open-plan departments to one office that stood in the centre of the store on a higher level. The capsules travelled along wires not tubes, rather like old trolly buses, and I used to love watching them whizzing from all directions across the store to the central point.

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  6. When I was but a wee child in the 1960s, my mum would take me to a very similar shop called Godbolds. The cash used to whizz through the air in little canisters attached to wires. The shop had lots of these little tracks that sent the money to the central cash desk. At that age I found it all very exciting. That shop is long gone too :(

    Jean x

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    1. Dear Jean - I suppose once they are all gone along with our memories, nobody will realise that they ever existed. It is nice to see little vintage stores etc springing up but sad that the old established firms are going, particularly in this recession period.

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  7. That's sad that the shop is closing.
    We have a menswear shop that takes money as you mentioned & it's in the country :) love to shop there when we go that way.

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    1. Long may it last, because it is a sad reflection of the times when they close their doors forever.

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  8. I am so sad to read this. I adore these old shops which give us a glimpse into a way of life that sadly is passing. I used to go to huge department stores with my Grandmother when I was a child and was fascinated by everything which I saw - and always on my best behavior. I have actually been o this shop, but without my camera. So nice that you have shared these photos to remember them by. The Lamson cavum system is amazing! x

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    1. If you are in Cheltenham in the near future, it may be worth a last visit to pick up some bargains. I am visiting next week in the hope of getting H some red viyella socks, his one concession to flamboyance.

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  9. How sad it is to see some of these most elegant ladies and men's wear shops closing.
    I used to always love buying in these type of stores. Happily, downtown Lisbon still have some running, but in the minority. When i do shop in downtown Lisbon. I enjoy going into these little smaller shops, its always so more personalized and we can take our time.
    I remember going into stores as a young child with my mother and was fascinated with the vacuum system sending notes or money down..I used to ask my mum..where is it going too.. then it would come back up.
    It is a shame that this shop is closing after so many years.
    Most enjoyable post Rosemary.
    wishing you a happy Sunday
    val

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    1. Dear Val - I suppose we all found this money devise interesting because we did not live with lots of technology in the house then. I too used to find it mysterious the way the money was folded up into the capsule and came back with the correct change in it.
      Interestingly this post seems to have awakened lots of childhood memories for many commenters.
      Glad you found the post enjoyable Val.

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  10. What a shame!
    High quality has no future??!

    ♥ Franka

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    1. Dear Franka - I agree with you, what a shame it is, and over 100 years of trading finished forever.

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  11. Dear Rosemary, I look at those beautifully stacked sweaters and feel sad that things have to change so much. I have lived long enough to see many changes and each time I wonder why so many good ideas can not survive.

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    1. Dear Gina - it is a sad reflection of the sign of the times. Many people want to buy cheap and cheerful clothing which they then caste off frequently. This shop sells quality merino and cashmere wool socks and jumpers etc which do cost a lot of money, but which last a long time.
      I sometimes wonder whether we are progressing forwards or going backwards!!!

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  12. Such a shame when a piece of history disappears like this, Rosemary. Your lovely post takes me back to my mid-teens, when I had a pre-Christmas job in an old-fashioned gents' outfitters very like this one, with its wooden shelves and open-fronted drawers. The only thing missing was the vacuum cash system, as it was too small to need one.

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    1. Dear Perpetua - this post has elicited the fact that people are nostalgic for the things from the past. Not all of us want cheap and cheerful, here today gone tomorrow. However, in this recession period it seems more and more old fashioned shops are now closing their doors forever.
      Actually this shop is very small, and I was surprised to discover that they had this vacuum cash system. I tend to associate it with the big drapery stores of my childhood.

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  13. Hello Rosemary:
    This is all so very sad, but, regrettably, seems to be happening the world over. It is such a pity that stores such as 'The Famous' which offer such wonderful levels of service are 'going under'whilst the sell it cheaply and pile it high brigade seem to be multiplying in numbers on every high street. Of course, times must change but it is such a wonderful experience when one is served by knowledgeable and helpful assistants and they seem to be disappearing at an alarming rate. Oh dear!

    An aged aunt of ours worked for many years in a large department store in Leeds which employed a similar 'tubed' cash flow system. It was extremely fast and efficient we thought and great fun to watch. It made paying a pleasure!!!

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance - it seems to be all part of a general dumbing down across the board. There are very few of these high class shops on the streets anymore. In our own little town we had a family run menswear shop when we first moved here, but with the death of the owner, it is now no more.
      Many commenters have mentioned their own memories of the capsule system in shops. I suppose it was a very good way of preventing fiddling the books too. The money was taken in and immediately zoomed off to the cashiers office, and then the correct change came back for the customer.

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  14. Dear Rosemary,

    I remember several stores with vacuum cash systems — they're gone now, too, of course. The passage of such stores is sad in that it marks the end of a certain type of service which seems to be lost forever. The great irony in this Information Age is that service is the one thing that we should be cultivating all the more.

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    1. Dear Mark - I have been surprised how many people remember these various vacuum cash systems, they must have made an impression on us.
      The notion of service does appear to have been lost forever. I recall my father visiting his bank, and the Manager would come forward and greet him like a long lost friend. I go in to my bank and I do not think that anyone knows me from 'Adam'.

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  15. Though I'm not familar with this shop, I feel quite sad to read the news. What a shame, and a tremendous loss. I feel bad also for the loyal patrons and long time employees.....betting there are some of both.
    Loi

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    1. I do understand that most of the employees have been there for all of their working life. They are opening another smaller shop so some of the staff will continue to have jobs. They will be selling just school uniforms as they are the local stockist for a very large area and covering a lot of schools.

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  16. Oh, such a sad story, I could almost cry! Suzy x

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    1. Sadly it is a sign of the times Suzy - I am posting your letter tomorrow.

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  17. Hello Rosemary

    Oh how sad - such an incredible stores and the fixtures are beautiful. I remember a similar cash system at Clery's shop on O'Connell St. in Dublin. As children when our mother took us to Dublin we always went into Clery and watched the zooming back and forth of the cash and change on the pulleys.

    I must say I like to handle merchandize prior to purchasing it and folded items on a a shelf restrict shopping.

    Helen xx

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    1. Dear Helen - the one thing that this post has done is to stir childhood memories for most commenters. I was also enthralled by the pulley cash devices too.
      As you mention it is nice to handle merchandise first, which you can do here of course, but feel rather inhibited knowing that it has all got to be carefully folded up again when you have leave.

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  18. What a shame that such a wonderful shop is closing - everything looks so neat and tidy. I remember that "tube" system in a shop in East Grinstead when I was a child.

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    1. I am glad that your childhood memories have been stirred too Susan. For some reason this system of handling the money is remembered by many. I think it was because there was not much technology in our homes then, so things we saw outside the home enthralled us more.

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  19. Very nice shop with such organization, wonderful things and kind people. Sadly, closes a historic store .....
    All values ​​are collapsing to the altar of globalization!
    Have a nice week !
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - you are right, it is a sign of the times. The recession is hitting so many of our established organisations.

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  20. We have a similar outfitters shop in my nearby town of Ilminster with a tubed cash system still visible along the ceiling. Amazingly it is still surviving and long may it last.

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    1. Hear, hear, it is so sad when these old established companies have to close their doors. A little bit of our history goes with them too.

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  21. What I noticed right away from your photos is the artistry in the functionality of the store, everything is in tip-top shape, there is a sense of pride in the product, its presentation, in the way the workers stand with the merchandise. You are losing so much more than just a store.

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    1. So beautifully put Rosemary - I am pleased that you recognised that in the staff. I know that many of them have spent their whole working lives in the shop, and their pride is tangible.

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  22. Your pictures are very nice!Im sorry to hear that your stores are clossing!Wish you a lovely week!(Im Dimi's friend)
    http://iioannasworld.blogspot.gr/

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    1. Dear Ioanna - so pleased that you have left a comment. I tried to find your blog when you became a followers but could not trace it. I can now follow you too.
      Glad to learn that you are one of Dimi's friends, and thank you for your visit.

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  23. What a lovely old fashioned shop and what a shame it is now closing. The customer service is always wonderful in places like this.
    I remember buying some material as a teenager to make a skirt and the shop had a very similar tube system of dealing with the cash!
    Sarah x

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    1. Dear Sarah - it has been really surprising how many people remember these cash tube systems. When you bought your skirt material I bet it was placed on a beautiful wooden counter with a brass ruler running along its edge, and then the assistant would cut an accurate line down the material for you, neatly parcel it up in brown paper, fasten it with string and a final flourish of a loop to hold it by. Those were the days.

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