Tim's One Photograph a Day

Former J J Allen Department Store

Former J J Allen Store – Now T K Maxx

Old Christchurch Road entrance to the former J J Allen Department Store, Bournemouth.

Old Christchurch Road entrance to the former J J Allen Department Store, Bournemouth.

There’s a couple of lessons here today. It was raining and grey at the time I went out on dog-walking and shopping duties. So, I didn’t take the camera. In town, first I passed a former Irish Pub. It has been closed for some time, and the front is boarded up. Today, it was open, and there was work going on. Interestingly, there was no floor at ground level! I thought after I should have used my phone to take a photograph. Of course, by the time I returned (only a few minutes later) it was all boarded up again.

However, the building almost opposite caught my eye. When I was growing up in Bournemouth, this was part of the J J Allen Department Store. One of several such stores in the town. This one I remember as being particularly unusual. There were two entrances: this one, and the one we more commonly used at what is effectively the back. The latter part of the store is now The Mary Shelley Wetherspoon pub. Named after the author of Frankenstein, who is buried in St Peter’s churchyard, opposite.

There are two unusual factors I particularly remember about the J J Allen Department store. One was the fact that the store was on a slight hill. In the middle of the store was the staircase and lift – the front and rear being half a storey different in height. The other difference to the norm was the indoor fishpond! I can’t remember now if it was at the bottom of the stairs, or if it was nearer the St Peter’s entrance. Maybe someone reading this will know.

Allen’s had a number of stores in London and the south (and Leicester, for some reason), the company formed in Bournemouth in 1899 to ‘carry on the extensive and old-established business of Mr.J.J.Allen, House Furnisher, Carpet Importer and Factor, Cabinet Manufacturer, Upholsterer, Decorator, Removal Contractor, Warehouseman, and Funeral Furnisher’ (source House of Fraser Archive).

J J Allen bought out the small Brights deparment store chain in 1960 – another Bournemouth store I shall feature in a later photograph. In 1969, Allen’s were purchased by House of Fraser. Ironically, the former Brights store still remains open as House of Fraser.

A fair part of Allen’s is now T K Maxx, so it is still possible to get some idea of the size of the original store. The Old Christchurch Road entrance has been converted into a sort of arcade, with shops either side of the original doorway. On the lower ground floor is an “all you can eat” buffet-style Oriental restaurant. The name J J Allen still lives on – the funeral director part of the company is in its original building in Westbourne, although now it is part of the Coop.

Today’s two lessons? One – if you see a photograph, take it straight away. Don’t leave it until later. Two – always take your camera. That’s what weather proof bags are for!

Photograph Details

  • Taken: 9 Jan 2017
  • Camera: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge SM-G935F
  • Lens: Integrated
  • Focal Length 4mm
  • F/1.7
  • 1/35 Sec
  • ISO 100

3 thoughts on “Former J J Allen Department Store

  1. Pingback: Blue Hour on Commercial Road, Bournemouth.

  2. Kate Terkanian

    Hi Tim,

    Lovely photos. I’m working on a project on local department stores and was wondering if you would like to participate.

    1. tim Post author

      Hi Kate –

      Apologies for the delay in responding. I would be interested – except I am no longer in Bournemouth! I was there when I was looking after my mother over 4 years ago. However, I did grow up in Bournemouth and would be delighted to share my memories.

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