Last Day at Debenhams, Stockton 2020

Photographs taken on the final day (Wednesday 15 January 2020) in the life of the store which has probably almost single-handedly kept Stockton High Street afloat over recent years and will be sorely missed by so many people and for so many reasons, including nostalgia by many Picture Stockton visitors.

The store was quite busy with people queuing at the tills waiting to pay for the bargains they had found. But as you can see from the photos the store was very empty and shelves were clear, ready and waiting to be dismantled with the cafe area long gone…

Photographs courtesy of David Thompson.

17 thoughts on “Last Day at Debenhams, Stockton 2020

  1. The closure of prominent department stores is happening all over the UK, what is occurring in Stockton High Street is, as we all know has happened in Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. The famous Princes Street Edinburgh is another ghost town, whilst in Leeds, Lewis’s huge department store is long gone. What surprises me is how butchers, sweet shops and newsagents have also closed down in vast numbers. Shopping habits have changed, and the internet is to blame, also the huge rates bills levied on retailers. Even out of town shopping centres have died a death, and the demolition of huge shopping malls is increasing. On a personal level, I was saddened 2-months ago by the state of Redcar town centre and its beach area, I was the only person on the beach, and the promenade up to the Life Boat station was completely deserted. We decided we’d go for fish and chips, and the takeaway price of £7-00 each put us off, so we drove home. Maybe this supplies an answer to the High Street problems – if fish and chips cost £14,00 for two, and newspapers cost over £1.00 each, we change our shopping habits pretty quick?

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  2. I worked as a Saturday girl in Robinson’s, first in the delicatessen and later in the cake counter selling Spark’s cakes and bread. The record department was on the mezzanine and great place for catching up with the latest trends.

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  3. Yes it sad that this branch of Debenhams (previously M Robinson) has had to close, but saying ‘it has virtually single-handedly kept the High Street afloat over the years is pushing it. I went in myself about 3.00 pm and the amount of people getting last minute bargains could be counted on one hand… What about New Look and Marks and Spencer… They have also suffered the same fate recently.. The utility bills still have to be paid, as well as wages. Lets hope a new use can be found it…An emporium perhaps?

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  4. So now I have absolutely no reason ever to return to Stockton, Everything I liked or was part of my youth has now gone, closed down or been concreted over. From Playing fields, Open spaces, Billingham bottoms, School fields etc to frolic in as a child, to strolls down Norton High Street on an evening with my girlfriend, to shopping in Stockton Debenhams, Woolies, Alexandrers etc or going Nightclubing in Pharoahs, the Inn Cognoto, Bentleys or the Fiesta. No more trips to the Odeon or ABC , no more YMCA or Dovecot Arts center. All gone so many precious memories that they may call progess but I call lost heritage.

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  5. I started work at Debenhams in 1973, along with Margaret Bainbridge & Carol Newbould, who I believe still worked there when it closed

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  6. We’ve had numerous recessions over my life time, that they tell us we’ve recovered from. But this is what the beginning of a major depression looks like. I’ve been telling people for 4 years this was coming. No one listened. We’ve not had a depression for 80 years since the 1930s. They tell us this is caused by the internet shopping. Only in a very small part is that true. This is caused by the greed of the banking industry sucking the life blood out of the real economy feeding the super rich 1%. Where there’s money there’s corruption. They say if you want to rob a bank and not go to jail, own one.

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  7. A sad day indeed, a sign of the times unfortunately. I too recall this store being Robinsons’ when shopping in Stockton was a day out. A huge market with every stall busy you could buy almost anything. Debenhams, M&S, Woolworths, Littlewoods not to mention independent shoe shops and much more more. Travelled by bus then the buses ran frequently and stopped in the High Street. Banks, building societies, Lesley Brown’s toy shop, Mothercare all gone, even the Post Office squeezed into WH Smiths. It certainly was a wonderful place in bygone days. Happy memories.

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  8. My memories of that imposing store go back 85 years, at five years old Mother on a shopping trip took me to Robinsons Emporium or as she called it the Coliseum? why I wonder, to her it was always that. She could get material for her dressmaking and everything else buttons etc in Woolworths. Stockton High Street at the time was the shopping hub of the whole area.
    My last trip just before Christmas to the Cafe then doing some shopping, a warm cap and gloves, Christmas cards talking to some of the Staff who had been there years, the place was obviously short of feet on floors which is what shops need, it is no good us shoppers going in a couple of times a year and expecting them to keep going.
    Over the years my Wife and I shopped there had meals in the Cafe even bought furniture but out of town shopping took us away from Town as it did for people wanting to park near shops free.
    The problem is what do you do with such a large and imposing building now, the maintenance costs and taxes must be enormous. Offices, Flats, the new town offices as they seem keen to move knocking down the only viable shopping area, who knows but it will be missed by us old Stockton folk.
    Frank.

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    • My Aunty Joyce Pearce nee Turner worked there, before becoming manageress at Chain Libraries. A position she held for many years. Sadly she passed away aged 95 last year

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  9. Thank you David for the images. It is sad especially as my Dad was a stock controller at Robinsons (same shop but before it became Debenhams) in the late 1940s. He occasionally went in to work on Sundays when the shop was closed and took me with him. I would have been about 7 or 8 at the time and found it exciting to wander round the empty store.

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    • It was still Robinson’s in the fifties. We used to go as children and chase each other from one balcony to the other. Happy days.

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