British Home Stores started in Brixton, London, UK in 1928. It became a public company in 1931 and merged with Habitat/Mothercare to form Storehouse plc in 1986: Bhs replaced British Home Stores as the registered company name. In 1977 British Home Stores launched a joint venture with supermarket retailer Sainsbury's to create hypermarkets using the SavaCentre brand. Bhs and Mothercare became part of Storehouse Plc. Philip Green purchased BHS from Storehouse Plc in May 2000 for £200 million.
British Home Store - Princes Street Shop
There are proposals to redevelop Princes St from Malcolm Fraser (latterly apparently by Broadway Malyan Architects) and this classic Brtish Home Store [BHS store] by well-respected Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners may be under threat.
Cockburn Association Comment: In my recent examination of Princes Street I find an element of disagreement between these two books as to which is the best Princes Street Panel building. McKean promotes the New Club as ‘by far the best result of the Princes Street Panel recommendations’ while BOS suggests British Home Stores (Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners) as ‘the first and best of the redevelopments that followed the Princes Street Panel guidelines’.
The Princes Street Panel was convened to recommend principles and standards that should be applied to the control of building development and to securing appropriate environmental standards in the First Edinburgh New Town. Its work (1954-79), however, is remembered for its effects on Princes Street and especially the first floor walkway that was intended to run the length of the street but never completed.
Of the examples that exist I would suggest that British Home Stores and the New Club are the only buildings that are of architectural rather than of historical interest. At present it is only the latter that is listed Category A by Historic Scotland as ‘In-situ reinforced concrete, with plate glass and Rubislaw granite facings’. I am therefore starting a campaign to remedy this mistake and anyone who would like to carry a placard please contact the Cockburn Association office.
Now I am the first to admit that in terms of interior the New Club wins hands down mainly because it rescued a few pieces of Baroque panelling from the skip when they demolished the Old Club. My focus, however, is on the exterior of the buildings where I believe that British Home Stores is a graceful addition to Princes Street. This is a great example of 20th Century architecture in the capital using materials, glass and pale granite that were not part of the traditional pallete.
If we look at what has been built since Bhs no one has succeeded in designing a building that adds value to the Princes Street.
A quick glance at other buildings by the same firm in the city reveals the Royal Commonwealth Pool, David Hume Tower, Edinburgh Airport, Wester Hailes Education Centre but unfortunately includes the former Lothian Regional Headquarters on George IV Bridge. You can’t win them all!!
Martin Hulse, Cockburn Association May 2002
Shop Address: British Home Stores, 64 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH2 2DJ
British Home Stores have other scottish shops at 67-81 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, at 91-93 Union Street, Aberdeen and at 2 Cowgate, Wellgate Centre, Dundee