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Gamages was a department store in central London,[1] founded by Arthur Walter Gamage, the son of a Herefordshire farmer. It began in 1878 in a rented watch repair shop and, after quickly becoming a success amongst its customers, was established as a London institution. In time it was to grow large enough to take up most of the block on which it was situated. The store finally closed in 1972, but prior to that had been unusual in that its premises were away from the main Oxford Street shopping area, being on the edge of the City of London at Holborn Circus.[2] Gamages also ran a successful mail-order business.

Many of those who were children at the time remember Gamages because of its unparallelled stock of toys of the day, and the Gamages catalogue used to publicise them, which was a well-loved gift during the autumn, in time for Christmas present requests to be made. One of the store's main attractions was a large model railway which alternated between a day and night scene by the use of lighting. The railway was provided by a man called Bertram Otto who was German by birth. It received many thousands of visitors every Christmas.

Gamages had many departments, much more than modern department stores. There was a substantial hardware department on the ground floor which included specialist motor parts and car seat cover sections. There was a photographic department, camping, pets, toys and sporting departments, the latter selling shotguns. The toy department was extensive and there were substantial fashion, furniture and carpeting departments and in latter years a small food supermarket.

During World War I, Gamages manufactured the Leach Trench Catapult.[3]

Gamages was an extremely successful and profitable store. In the late 1960s a second store was opened in Romford, Essex. This had a relatively short life as the whole company was taken over by Jeffrey Sterling's Sterling Guarantee Trust in the early 1970s and the Romford site was quickly sold off. The Holborn site soon followed and there is now no trace of the store to be seen. Gamages reopened in Oxford Street in a vacated store but this venture was short-lived.


  1. ^ "In Pictures: London's Lost Department Stores". Retrieved 9 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Rudyard Kipling, The Letters of Rudyard Kipling: 1920-30 
  3. ^ Gary Sheffield (2007). War on the Western Front: In the Trenches of World War I. Osprey Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 1846032105. 

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