M&S 100+ years of history

Published on 23 January 2019


Local historian Maurice Nicholson is the man with access to photographs to prove how important M&S has been to Bedford since 1906.

Records shared by Maurice show that M&S was first listed in the town in 1906 with a ‘Penny Bazaar’ stall at the lower end of what is now the Edwardian Arcade (see below). In 1929, a brand new flagship store was opened, which still houses M&S today.

M&S 100+ years of history

His own collection of images shows the White Horse pub which used to sit on the corner of Midland Road and what is now part of Harpur Street. It was demolished to make way for the brand new Marks & Spencer which had its own label of St Michael - considered a mark of quality among shoppers for decades.

One shot shows the busy roadway with buses coming down Silver Street past Boots (now Clinton Cards) and Braggins (now Beales).

Maurice, who attended Bedford Modern School before it became the Harpur Shopping Centre, is a lead Geo-Referencer for the British Library and has conducted work for New York City Library and seats of learning across Europe. Now a retired pharmacist, Maurice volunteers on Tuesday in the Heritage section of Bedford Central Library and with his brother Paul have given more than 50  lectures on 'Queens Park Lives' which has been extended to include Midland Road - hence his collection of photographs.

M&S 100+ years of history

“People are always very interested in the history of where they live and their local towns. Bedford has so much of interest,” said Maurice.

If you want to Make your Mark and join the campaign for M&S to stay in Bedford go to https://www.lovebedford.co.uk/news/post.php?s=2019-01-17-make-your-mark

More history of the town centre can be found at the Bedford Central Library where Maurice volunteers on Tuesdays 11 - 1pm and 2 - 4pm.

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