LOOKING BACK - June 30 edition

M&S in the 1960s
M&S in the 1960s

Marks & Spencer building over the years

Thanks to a combination of Bill Stewardson’s postcard and John Round’s pictures, we’re able to piece together the history of the currently empty Marks & Spencer building in High Street.

The Benn Buildings

The Benn Buildings

The site was originally occupied by the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, which was about 300 years old when it was demolished in the late 1890s.

George Charles Benn had left money in his will to build a building for the town and didn’t want the people to have to pay for it. But his £4,000 pledge, with another £2,000 to be invested for maintenance wasn’t enough as the magnificent building cost £7,500 in 1900.

The difference had to be met by the rates, which must have been a tad controversial at the time. It became the town hall, used by council officials until they moved out in the mid 1930s and M&S moved in in 1937.

The original Shoulder of Mutton pub in High Street

The original Shoulder of Mutton pub in High Street

Just before Marks & Spencer moved out in 2015

Just before Marks & Spencer moved out in 2015