Company: E Dingle & Co Ltd

Registration number: 00296595

Company name: E Dingle & Co Ltd
Dates in business: 1935-2011

Type of business: department store

Type of company: Private limited company 1935

Type of company: Public limited company 1954

  • Bedford Street, Plymouth, England
  • Royal Parade, Plymouth, England

Company history

In 1935, E Dingle & Co Ltd was registered as a private limited company. The purchase of the freehold corner site and business of W J Vickery & Co Ltd, gentlemen's outfitters, at 26 and 27 Bedford Street and Cornwall Street, Plymouth, was negotiated that year, and the brothers Stanley and Ralph Vickery joined Jack Baker, Tom Baker's son, and Frank Dingle, Edward Dingle's second son, as directors of E Dingle & Co Ltd. Three years later, the company acquired the lease of 32 Bedford Street and 4 Cornwall Street. By 1939, E Dingle & Co Ltd comprised eighty departments, employed over five hundred people and had plans to rebuild the store along the lines of the Harrods and Selfridges department store buildings in London, England. However, these plans had to be shelved when the 1939-1945 World War broke out later that year.

During the war, Plymouth experienced fifty-nine German air-raids which left the city centre in ruins. On the night of 21 March 1941, a fire started by incendiaries in the nearby Yeos department store, spread to the Dingle store and burned the premises to the ground. The partners were determined to continue trading, and purchased and leased shops and houses throughout Plymouth and the surrounding area, where most of the departments resumed trading. By the end of the war the store employed six hundred people.

Under Patrick Abercrombie and J Paton Watson's "Plan for Plymouth", the city centre was completely rebuilt during the late 1940s and early 1950s. E Dingle & Co Ltd secured a site close to the spot where the old store had stood, and plans were quickly laid for the construction of a modern department store. To assist the executive directors with the task of financing and organising a major construction, two new directors, Jack Dingle and Frank Baker, were appointed in January 1948. Winston Brimacombe was made assistant managing director. Jeffrey Baker, a senior partner in the company's firm of accountants, was also made a director and brought additional financial expertise to the business. In January 1948, the company was also reconstructed. Staff members were invited to invest in the company and the share capital was increased from GBP100,000 to GBP300,000. The construction of the new building commenced in November 1949.

Frank Dingle retired as chairman of the company in 1950, and his cousin, Jack Baker, assumed the chairmanship while remaining managing director. The new store was opened by Baker and Brimacombe on 1 September 1951. The building was the first new department store to open in the UK since 1938. Designed by John Burnet, Tait & Partners, architects, London, the store was 293 feet long by 127 feet deep, providing 35,000 square feet of sales space on four floors.

Jeffrey Baker became vice-chairman of the company in May 1952, and when Jack Baker died in 1955 he succeeded him as chairman. Winston Brimacombe, who became managing director in October 1954, continued to be in charge of trading operations and made plans for expansion. This resulted in the adoption of public company status in 1954. In 1961, the company acquired Cox & Horder, department store, Falmouth, Cornwall, England, and Hawke & Thomas, department store, Newquay, Cornwall, England, and a central buying office was set up in Plymouth. Between 1966 and 1969, the group was extended by the acquisition of a number of other department stores; Criddle & Smith, Truro, Cornwall, England; John Polglaze, Penzance, Cornwall, England; B Thomas, Helston, Cornwall, England; and Henry Warren & Son and William Badcock & Son, Newton Abbott, Devon, England. Several of these stores were refurbished and extended and, by 1969, when Jeffrey Baker resigned as chairman, the group's pre-tax profits had increased to GBP386,1156 having risen every year, save one, since 1951. In 1970, E Dingle & Co Ltd amalgamated with Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd, holding company, Bath, England.

Winston Brimacombe became chairman on Baker's retirement in 1969. In 1971, House of Fraser Ltd, department store retailers, Glasgow, Scotland, announced their intention to bid for E Dingle & Co Ltd. In July 1971, Brimacombe recommended acceptance of the offer from House of Fraser Ltd having obtained assurances that the future of the company would be preserved. Brimacombe moved on to become non-executive chairman of the Army & Navy Division within House of Fraser Ltd and his son, Peter Brimacombe, a director of Dingles since 1966, took his place as managing director, with Peter Humphries as chairman. Under House of Fraser Ltd, the construction of a sixth storey at the Dingle store was completed in 1975. The Dingles Division, set up in 1975 eventually numbered seventeen stores. During the following decade the Plymouth store traded strongly until, on the evening of 19 December 1988, the upper half of the store was destroyed by fire with damage initially estimated at GBP13,200,000. The gutted floors were rebuilt and the store continues to trade from these premises at 40-46 Royal Parade in 2011.

In 1988, the name of the company was changed to House of Fraser (Twelve) Ltd, although the store continued to trade into the twenty-first century as Dingles of Plymouth. House of Fraser (Twelve) Ltd was dissolved in 2011, the store being managed as part of the larger House of Fraser group.

Records held for E Dingle & Co Ltd:

FRAS 1142
Title: Certificate of incorporation
Date: 1935
FRAS 1146
Title: Directors' report and accounts
Date: 1960-1971
FRAS 1145
Title: Papers concerning potential takeover by Harrods
Date: 1940-1947
FRAS 1144
Title: Information for staff and prospective staff
Date: c 1970s
FRAS 1147
Title: Catalogues
Date: 1981-1982
FRAS 1167
Title: Press cuttings
Date: 1957-c 1980s
FRAS 1143
Title: Brochures
Date: 1949-1976
FRAS 1164
Title: Store photographs
Date: c 1970s
FRAS 1148
Title: Photographs of the exterior of Dingles stores
Date: c 1970s
FRAS 1149
Title: Photographs of Sir Hugh Fraser's visit
Date: c 1970s
FRAS 1165
Title: Photographs of staff
Date: c 1970s - 1980s
FRAS 1166
Title: Winston Churchill memorial
Date: 1965
FRAS 1168
Title: Mounted display of lace
Date: c 1970s

Related People and Companies:

Corporation name: E Dingle & Co
Dates of connection: 1935
Connection type: E Dingle & Co was incorporated as E Dingle & Co Ltd in 1935
Corporation name: Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd
Dates of connection: 1970
Connection type: Jolly & Son (Holdings) Ltd was acquired by E Dingle & Co in 1970
Corporation name: House of Fraser Ltd
Dates of connection: 1971
Connection type: E Dingle & Co Ltd was acquired by House of Fraser Ltd in 1971

Access points: Drapers - Retail trade

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