Derry and Toms

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...

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