38 members and 2 visitors attended our May meeting where we met Mr. W. Jones from the “Palace of Knightsbridge” – more commonly known as “Harrods”. He entertained us with stories covering his 40 years with them, having started work as a Trainee in September 1963 and retiring in 2003 as the Licensee. He was wearing a rather fetching frock coat which had been made for him, at a cost of £750, with a crest on the pocket bearing the store’s motto “All things to all people everywhere”. He gave us the history of the store from when Charles Henry Harrod took it over in 1849, when it was in financial difficulty and not in the best of areas, but seeing the potential as wealthy Victorians were building houses to be near to the Royal family. By 1883 his Son Charles Digby was running the business (Dad sold it to him for £600) and expanded it greatly employing some 150 staff. 7 days before Christmas it burnt down taking most of Knightsbridge with it. By 1889 it was rebuilt and claimed amongst its customers Oscar Wilde and Lilly Langtry who were given store credit cards. By now he had taken on a Managing Director – Richard Burbridge who had lots of new ideas re advertising and publicity and one of these was to kit out the solders for the Boar War – what a novel idea. Between 1910 and 1920 Harrods was rebuilt to be the biggest and best store. Because electricity and water supplies could be erratic, and so his customers would never be inconvenienced, he had wells drilled and a power house installed in the basement. In 1955 the Burbridge family lost control of Harrods to the Al Fayed family and as we all know it was sold again recently for 1.5Billion.
Next month is our annual social night on 27th July. This years theme is South American, so join us for Salsa and fun with Mark Moore and Partner. We will also have refreshments and a light themed Supper. There will be a prize for the best dressed, so raid your wardrobes ladies and whilst there don’t forget your dancing shoes! As usual we meet at in Peldon Village Hall, Church Road, Peldon. Membership is currently closed. Visitors are welcome cost £5.00 by pre-booking on any of the following numbers. Alice 01206 735510, Jane 01206 735004, Julia 01206 735053 or Sue 01206 735212.