In 1936 Rye Lane was widely known as the Oxford Street of the South, when shop psychology was first being tested and when King George V died. It was also the year that King Edward VII abdicated to marry the divorcee Wallis Simpson, Oswald Mosely’s Black Shirts took on Cable Street and lost, the BBC launched its most regular public broadcast and pre-war tensions began to rise in Europe.
Starting life as a small drapery business in 1882, H.Holdron slowly expanded into adjacent shops. By 1930 it covered 135 -147 Rye Lane and incorporated housing for some of its employees as well as in-house workshops and tailoring departments. In 1927 the business was bought and became part of Selfridges Provincial Stores. Many of the features of the store still survive behind the drop ceilings and fake walls of the arcade and Khan’s Market next door.
There are many real stories to discover, of shoplifters and fashion parades, Thursday morning shopping offers and department store tours, all the more fascinating in their detail. Traces seeks to recreate the history of the building and the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of the arcade’s past.
Traces is a not for profit organisation and charges only 25% commission on work sold which goes back to the project for the next event. Homewares, perfumes and fashion are on sale. Admission is free.