Company name: Brights & Colsons Ltd
Dates in business: 1925-1969
Type of business: Department store
Type of company: Private limited liability company 1925Locations:
In 1925 Colsons & Co was bought by Brights of Bournemouth, the Exeter store adopting the name Colsons of Exeter.
During the war years, Colsons continued to trade. The blitz of 4th May 1942 proved however to be a dramatic time for the business. During the raid, the Church Army Home through to H E Williams in Catherine Street, at the back of Colsons were hit by a high explosive bomb. Also the building next to Colsons in the High Street was destroyed by incendiary bombs. The bomb damaged premises around Colsons had succumbed to the flames and the fire spread into the top floor and roof of the store. The rest of the building was only saved by the timely action of the fire services and a 4ft 6in cob wall that held the flames back.
There was much that survived of a rather handsome, if architecturally mixed building after the bombing. Indeed, in comparison with the businesses all around, Colsons had escaped lightly. The western end of the store had a rather fine bow window on the first floor that protruded over the pavement. The undamaged parts of the store continued to trade until after the war. Plans were made between 1949-50 to alter the existing premises, but in the end the decision was made to start again.
In 1953, plans were drawn up by Dix's Field architect F W Beech & E Curnow Cookes to replace the whole of the store in nine stages, to create as little disruption to trade as possible. The rebuilding, was done by M T Sleeman and Son, on an expanded site that had included the former shops of Bellmans and Wymans. This new store was the first in Exeter to have an escalator installed. The curved wall at the rear of the premises was the only feature that survived from the old building. In 1960, the J J Allen group took over Colsons and added the Maryon Fashion Group Ltd and Chanelle Ltd to the store. They also incorporated other internal shops such as Danimac, Weatherall and the wine store, Harveys. In 1966 they opened a Food Hall.
It was in 1969 that the last takeover of Colsons occurred when the House of Fraser, the parent group of Harrods took control. The name was changed to Dingles, in September 1973.
Records held for Brights & Colsons Ltd:
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