120 years of be­ing

Southport Visiter - - The Southport Of Yesterday -

THE most stylish shop­ping ar­cade in Mersey­side cel­e­brates its 120th birth­day this month.

Way­far­ers Ar­cade on Lord Street in South­port was first opened in Oc­to­ber 1898 and since then has wel­comed many mil­lions of shop­pers, and hosted hun­dreds of lo­cal in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses.

The eye-catch­ing Grade II Listed build­ing with a high glass dome and Vic­to­rian shop fronts be­low it, cre­at­ing a shop­ping ar­cade, was orig­i­nally called the Ley­land Ar­cade, af­ter South­port MP, Sir Herbert Ley­land.

It was the idea of John Humphrey Plum­mer, a Vic­to­rian en­tre­pre­neur, who at the time owned most of the shops on Lord Street. His idea was to cre­ate an in­door shop­ping area that could be en­joyed in all weather con­di­tions.

Due to the ex­ist­ing shops on Lord Street pro­vid­ing him with a good in­come, he did not want to lose the rent from any of them by de­creas­ing their size. There­fore this ex­plains the rea­son for the nar­row en­trance to the ar­cade that still ex­ists to­day.

In 1939 dur­ing the out­break of WWII, the domed roof was painted black as part of blackout pre­cau­tions, while the trop­i­cal fish aquar­ium was re­moved from the ar­cade to save elec­tric­ity.

Dur­ing the 1950s the ar­cade was pur­chased by a tai­lors busi­ness, Mon­tague Bur­ton, so the ar­cade was re­named from Ley­land Ar­cade to the Bur­ton Ar­cade.

While un­der own­er­ship by Bur­tons ma­jor restora­tion took place by re­plac­ing orig­i­nal pitch pine block floor with as­phalt.

In 1976 the Way­far­ers Ar­cade head lease was ac­quired by An­thony Ped­lar and re­named Way­far­ers Ar­cade.

Open seven days a week, vis­i­tors can en­joy more than 30 in­de­pen­dent shops set on two floors. The ar­cade in­cludes na­tional re­tail­ers such as Ro­han and Beales de­part­ment store.

Mem­bers of The South­port Of Yes­ter­day Face­book Group have this week been shar­ing their mem­o­ries of this mag­nif­i­cent shop­ping em­po­rium.

Mary Hughes said: “I loved go­ing in there when I was a child in the 1940s.

“There was a shop where we could buy in­di­vid­ual Reeves watercolours for paint boxes.

“I dropped mine once, and scrab­bled them all back in to the wrong places, con­se­quently call­ing a lot of colours by the wrong names, that is an­other story.

“I am fairly sure there was live mu­sic from a small Palm Court style orches­tra some after­noons. I hope that isn’t my imag­i­na­tion.”

Den­nis Tabron said: “There used o be a vi­o­lin group pos­si­bly four of them in the bal­cony far end and all the seats were taken up by peo­ple lis­ten­ing to what was quite re­lax­ing mu­sic,

“Vi­o­lin con­certs were quite pop­u­lar in South­port at the time.

“I think at this time it was called the Ley­land Ar­cade.”

Pam Clague said: “I worked at Way­far­ers Ar­cade in the early 1970s, in the jew­ellery de­part­ment. Mr Todd was my boss, and Mr Arthur Ped­lar was up­stairs in the fur­ni­ture de­part­ment.

“There were orig­i­nal Lowry paint­ings and beau­ti­ful Ge­orge Jensen jew­ellery in the dis­play cab­i­nets. I think my wage was about £8 a week.

“The shop was closed ev­ery Tues­day and Sun­day, as was the whole ar­cade I think.”

Gill Kit­son said: “Arthur Ped­lar was also a pro­fes­sional clown, a very clever man.

“My dad, Sam Purser, had the soft fur­nish­ing shop next to Way­far­ers.”

Amanda Mitchell said: “I re­mem­ber when he re­tired, Way­far­ers took over his shop. We moved the toy de­part­ment to that end.

“It was op­po­site the Red Rum statue and the pond. We kept his counter and it had the old brass rule along the edge.”

David Re­gan said: “I re­mem­ber Sam Purser from be­ing at num­ber 9, We at the sports shop were 3, 5 and 7. Num­ber 11 was Paul and Jerry Karmy the broth­ers who ran the jew­ellery shop and then it was Cave’s the chemists.

“It was Caves who pro­posed me as chair­man of the ar­cade ten­ants as­so­ci­a­tion. I was only 24 then and not even a part­ner in the sports busi­ness un­til I was 25.

“This was the time when I had sev­eral meet­ings with Arthur Ped­lar about the re­dec­o­rat­ing of the whole ar­cade and we hatched a plan that al­lowed the ten­ants to pay their shares over a num­ber of years rather than in one lump sum.

“When they re­moved up to 30 coats of paint from the ar­cade frontage much of the or­nate met­al­work had gone and the job costs went up con­sid­er­ably.

“I stayed as a part­ner for ten years and then when Keith and Brenda Smethurst re­tired I left to fol­low my dream as a coin dealer, 35 years later that is still my full time dream job.”

Becky Tal­len­tire said: “Way­far­ers Arts was surely the finest

Way­far­ers Ar­cade on Lord Street and, in­set right, Natasha Hamil­ton and Kent Ri­ley, at South­port Theatre, at the ar­cade in 2012

The Mersey­side Pas­sen­ger Trans­port Ex­ec­u­tive Band per­form Christ­mas car­ols at the ar­cade in De­cem­ber 1982

La Vie Fran­caise shop in Way­far­ers Ar­cade, with owner Chris Burns, in Jan­uary 2007

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