J R Roberts Stores

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J R Roberts Stores opened in 1870 in Stratford, London as a drapery and furniture shop[1] at 96 Broadway,[2] before expanding and becoming a full line department store covering 78-102 Broadway.

In 1888, it is reported that J R Roberts opened the first Christmas grotto in a UK department store.[3] Later their Christmas fairs were known for animated soldiers, sailors and other toy figures.[4] During the early part of the 20th century, the postcard artist Hermann Fleury Jnr fitted out the Christmas display for a fee of £200.[5]

In 1895, Queen Mary Hospital at West Ham opened a new wing and the two main wards were named after J R Roberts who had paid for the furniture.[6]

The business expanded in 1899 when they opened a second store[7] in Nelson Street, Southend-on-Sea, as a subsidiary (Company no. 00338672) of the Stratford branch. They also announced they would stop selling alcohol in their Stratford store as part of the temperance movement.[8] At some time they moved from Nelson Street to 90 High Street, Southend, which had been home to Percy Ravens since 1900.

In 1954, J R Roberts closed their Stratford store and sold it to the London Co-operative Society (who demolished the old buildings and built a new department store between 1957-1962),[9] while the Southend branch was sold to another department store chain, Hide & Co. The store became part of House of Fraser in 1975 and was renamed Chiesmans before becoming Army & Navy. The premises have since been occupied by Dixons / Currys and Morrisons Local.


  1. ^ "St John's Stratford E15 - Timeline (1866-1881)". Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  2. ^ 1896 Kelly Trade Directory
  3. ^ "Victorian values". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Automaton - The Newham Story". Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  5. ^ cashewnut.me.uk/Geneology/HermannFleuryJunior.php
  6. ^ "Lost_Hospitals_of_London". Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Seax - Catalogue: D/BC 1/4/12/1587 Building plan: Addition to Messrs J.R. Roberts and Co.'s shop No. 12 Nelson street Lewis Frederick". Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  8. ^ Otago Daily times 26/8/1899 page 8
  9. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42755

Coordinates: 51°32′31″N 0°00′07″E / 51.542°N 0.002°E / 51.542; 0.002