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Bournemouth Chamber comment on sad news of historic Bournemouth Department Store

Bournemouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce’s (BCTC) have been deeply saddened by the news that The Beales chain of department stores has gone into administration.  

With its 139 years of history, Beales was established in 1881 by John Elmes Beale, who was an English politician and merchant when he opened its flagship store in Bournemouth, which today still stands on the same site.  

BCTC have greatly benefited from a close and long running relationship with Beales, and this was underpinned by its gift of the chain of office which each of Bournemouth Chambers appointed Presidents wear on official duty.    The image shows Mandy Polkey, Past President, wearing the chain of office at BCTC’s Beales Breakfast Networking.   The jewel with ribbon is engraved on the back and was gifted by Beales.

Additionally, ‘Beales Breakfast Club’ became an established part of BCTC’s repertoire of Networking for many years.  A relaxed free monthly event which was a proven popular formula with companies who did business in Bournemouth and benefited from a hearty breakfast and no formal introductions to make lasting contacts for you and your business. 

J. E. Beale knew how to add a touch of theatre to the Beales shopping experience.  In 1885 he came up with the idea of having a live Father Christmas parading in the shop and showrooms. It was possibly the first instance of this being done in England.  

Additionally, a shop-walker in tailcoat and striped trousers would welcome customers, recognising the well-known ones and conducting them from their carriages to the appropriate counter.

And in 1912, Father Christmas arrived by air, waving to the crowds from an open cockpit before being flown back to a field in Pokesdown, to return to the shop by road. The following year, the shop introduced the Easter farm, which was to become a popular seasonal fixture.

Beales of Bournemouth became an institution and expanded in the 1960s with Bealesons, an offshoot of J. E. Beale & Sons Ltd which remained in the family throughout its history.  Bealesons opened its main site in Commercial Road, with a further branch opening in Old Christchurch Road.   Its demise coming about in 1967 with a bad tourist season from people not familiar with the town, confused by two stores with virtually the same name.

Mandy Polkey, BCTC Past President said of the news:  “It is very sad that Beales has gone into administration. Beales has been such a landmark and lead retail establishment in our town, it is hard to imagine it gone. Tough trading and challenging times make it difficult for even the most experienced and knowledgeable of retailers to perform well in these conditions.

At BCTC we have been very proud to be closely associated with this business over the years and are very sad to see the recent headlines. We sincerely hope that a way is found for the store to continue trading and wish Tony Brown the best of luck with his endeavours.”

The Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce (BCTC) has a simple aim – to help local businesses like yours grow and thrive. We achieve this by providing networking opportunities, as well as the very latest business information, training and development. We’re also your voice – ensuring that, together, we’re stronger.

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