Derry and Toms

Department store in/near High Street Kensington, existed between 1853 and 1973

MAPPING YEAR:1750180018301860190019302020Fullscreen map
Department store · High Street Kensington · W8 ·

Derry & Toms was a London department store.

In 1853 Joseph Toms opened a small drapery shop on Kensington High Street. In 1862 Joseph Toms joined forces with his brother-in-law, Charles Derry to set up Derry & Toms. By 1870 the business had grown to incorporate seven of the surrounding stores, with one of the buildings being used as a mourning department. The company prided itself as being the supplier of goods to the upper class of Kensington.

In 1920 John Barker & Co., the department store next door, acquired Derry & Toms. The firm already owned Pontings, which was adjacent to Derry & Toms on the other side. In 1919 Derry & Toms employed the services of poster artist F Gregory Brown to produce advertising. His advert The Daintiest of Legwear at Derry & Toms sold for £6,240 at Bonhams in 2007.

In 1930 building work was started and the new, seven-storey building on Kensington High Street opened in 1933. The building was designed by Bernard George in an Art Deco style popular at the time, and featured metalwork by Walter Gilbert and panel reliefs, entitled Labour & Technology, by Charles Henry Mabey Jnr. The building is most famous for its Kensington Roof Gardens, which opened in 1938 and still exists today. The garden was designed by landscape architect Ralph Hancock after the Managing Director of Barkers, Trevor Bowen, visited Rockefeller Center in New York. The main restaurant, situated on the fifth floor, was called "The Rainbow Room" and became a venue for thousands of "Dinner & Dances" (banquets), for both private firms and government departments. In 1957 John Barker & Co was bought by House of Fraser, bringing Derry & Toms under their stewardship.

The store was sold in 1971 to Biba. Derry & Toms continued to operate until 1973, when it finally closed. It was replaced in 1974 by Big Biba, which itself closed in 1975. Developer British Land developed the site into offices and shops. The location is now used by Marks & Spencer, H&M, and Gap, and as offices for Sony Music UK and Warner Music Group. In 2012, the American luxury fitness chain Equinox opened its first UK location on the fifth floor. Since 1978 the roof garden has been listed as Grade II, and since 1981 the building has been a Grade II* listed building.

The name of one of the founders of the former store is preserved in Derry Street, an adjacent street.

Read the Derry entry on the Wikipedia...

Main source: Wikipedia
Further citations and sources



High Street Kensington

High Street Kensington is a London Underground station at Kensington High Street.

Kensington High Street is a road (forming part of the A315) in Kensington, west London.

Its western extremity is the eastern end of Hammersmith Road near Kensington (Olympia) station. From here, the road heads east-north-east, past the Commonwealth Institute and High Street Kensington tube station. It forms a junction which Kensington Church Street, which runs to the north, and then continues east to the south-west corner of Kensington Gardens, close by Kensington Palace. Eastward the road becomes Kensington Road.

The stretch between the Commonwealth Institute and Kensington Gardens is a popular shopping area, with chainstores and upmarket shops serving a wealthy catchment area. In 2005 House of Fraser announced that it is closing the 135 year old Barkers department store in the street, meaning that it will have no department stores left after the earlier closures of Pontings and Derry & Toms. The 75,000 square foot premises will be taken over by Whole Foods Market, the American owner of organic supermarket chain Fresh & Wild to become the UK’s first organic superstore.

High Street Kensington station, on the District Line, opened in 1868.
Print-friendly version of this page