Monday, 20 January 2014

The History of Harrods and Selfridges

As many of my friends and family know, I love shopping, and with the return of ‘Mr Selfridge’ on ITV, I have decided to write about the history of my two favourite department stores- Harrods and Selfridges (not that I can actually afford anything inside *makes mental note to get a part time job*).
Anyway, one of the main differences between the two stores is that Harrods was set up by the Englishman Charles Henry Harrod in 1824 while Selfridges was set up in 1856 by the American, Harry Gordon Selfridge. Despite their grand department stores, both had humble beginnings, while Harrod started off by selling groceries in London, Selfridge was an errand boy in Chicago.
Now’s time for my favourite moments in their histories. First, Harrods:
Picture this. 16th November, 1898, on a Wednesday, the first escalator was used in England. Although it might not have looked much to the average person from this era, to a Victorian this contraption made of woven leather and a mahogany and ‘silver plate-glass’ balustrade was the in-thing, super exciting stuff. In fact, it was so exciting that customers had to have a glass of brandy after using it to ‘calm their nerves’. So at the moment, I really want to put some Victorians on a roller-coaster and see how their nerves fair then. They would probably need a whole gallon of brandy after I’ve finished taking them around Thorpe Park.
However, my favourite moment from the history of Selfridges is somewhat more educational and therefore more sophisticated. You see, Mr Selfridge liked education and science and as a result had many educational and scientific displays to attract customers. An example of this is when Louis Blériot’s monoplane was exhibited there during 1909 where it attracted 12,000 people. 
Overall, it’s nice to know that there is an interesting history behind Harrods and Selfridges so that my pointless window shopping can actually be passed off as something educational *wink wink*. Please don’t tell my mum.


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