Guest writer Tony Ourris tells the story of Palmers Green’s long lost department store …
In 1920, Mr D.C. Exton Evans and Mr W Cook Davies, opened up a department store in Palmers Green which was called Evans and Davies.
Evans and Davies originally traded in a smaller shop a few doors away which opened in 1911 and due to its success they decided to build a brand new building for their store. The building, at 305 – 311 Green Lanes, stood out with its grand 1920’s splendour including a large central arched window over the top two floors and its impressive façade which would immediately greet you as you came down Green Lanes.
The store had 27 departments over three floors which you could use the passenger lift to go between. The two Welsh friends already had two other shops in Leyton which they had opened in 1907 and with this latest expansion in Palmers Green they decided to open a department store that was in the style of those already established in the West End. Their concept worked and was a roaring success which set a standard that many other enterprises in the area aspired to and benefited from.
The shops founders died in 1934 (Mr Davies) and 1938 (Mr Evans) but the department store continued to trade as a thriving business under the same name for many more years, even during the difficult years of World War II and the post war period.
The shop was famed for having an overhead wire system to settle the bills for purchasers. The sales assistant would place the account and the cash into a cup that was attached to the overhead wire system. The assistant would then pull a handle which would send the cup into the cashier’s office. The cup, containing the change and the receipt, would then be returned by the cashier’s office to the assistant in a similar way.
In 1956 during renovations to the store, the overhead wire system was removed and the shop fronts were changed.
As years went by, trade started to dwindle for the store as people’s shopping habits changed mainly due to the increase in popularity of indoor shopping centres with parking. The store struggled to survive. The Co-Operative took over the store but this did not help matters and Evans and Davies finally closed down in 1980. During the early and mid-1980’s the building started to deteriorate due to very little maintenance being done. The store was used by various market stalls but not to a great success. In 1987 the building was renovated and the ground floor was split into two stores occupied by Cullens supermarket and Multiyork Furniture. Cullens did not survive long and tenants in the shop have since included Moben Kitchens and currently Starbucks. The upper floors are currently occupied as council offices. The building has also been renamed as Triangle House.
This article first appeared in Palmers Green Life