Derry & Toms

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Derry & Toms
Private/ceased trading 1971
Industry Retail
Genre Department Store
Founded 1860
Founder Joseph Toms, Charles Derry
Headquarters Kensington High Street, London, England
The "Derry & Toms" building as it appears today

Derry & Toms was a London department store.

In 1853 Joseph Toms opened a small drapery shop on Kensington High Street. In 1862 Joseph Toms joined forces with his brother-in-law, Charles Derry to set up Derry & Toms.[1] By 1870 the business had grown to incorporate seven of the surrounding stores, with one of the buildings being used as a mourning department. The company prided itself as being the supplier of goods to the upper class of Kensington.

In 1920 John Barker & Co., the department store next door acquired Derry & Toms, adding it to their other business Pontings which was the other neighbour to Derry & Toms.[2] In 1919 Derry & Toms employed the services of poster artist F Gregory Brown to produce advertising. His advert The Daintiest of Legwear at Derry & Toms sold for £6,240 at Bonhams in 2007.[3]

In 1930 building work was started and by 1933 the store opened as a new large seven story building on Kensington High Street, designed in an Art Deco style popular at the time by Bernard George and featuring metalwork by Walter Gilbert, and panel reliefs entitled Labour & Technology by C.J.Mabey. The building is most famous for its Kensington Roof Gardens which still remains today, which was started in 1936 and opened in 1938. It was designed by landscape architect Ralph Hancock after the Managing Director of Barkers, Trevor Bowen visited the Rockfeller Centre in New York. The main restaurant, situated on the fifth floor, was called "The Rainbow Room" and became a venue for thousands of "Dinner & Dances" (banquets), for both private firms and government departments. In 1957 John Barker & Co were bought by House of Fraser, bringing Derry & Toms under their stewardship.

The store was purchased in 1971 when the company was bought by Biba,[4] Derry & Toms continued to operate until 1973 when it finally closed. It was replaced in 1974 by Big Biba, but due to financial issues was closed in 1975. British Land developed the site into offices and shops. The location is now used by Marks and Spencers, H&M and Gap and as offices for Sony Music UK. Since 1978 the roof garden has been listed as Grade II, and since 1981 the building has been a Grade II* Listed Building.[5]


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Coordinates: 51°30′04″N 0°11′32″W / 51.5012°N 0.1921°W / 51.5012; -0.1921