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Untold tales of London department stores

1 reviewLondon, United Kingdom

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Experience hosted by Stephen

2 hours
Up to 10 people
Hosted in English

What you'll do

Starting near Oxford Circus and ending at the great Selfridges store, I will take you on a walk round one of the world's premier shopping areas and tell you fascinating stories about some of the West End’s major stores and the characters behind them.

You will discover why a Marks and Spencer's store is named after a building in ancient Rome and find out Liberty’s unexpected connection to the British Navy. I will tell you about the first John Lewis who started with one small shop on Oxford Street in 1864 and why he would be shocked to discover what his son did to the business. I will talk about about the rise and fall of HMV and explain the pivotal role the HMV store played in the discovery of the Beatles. I will show you the original Debenhams store which was very grand indeed and a nearby piano showroom which is now known for something different. When we finish at Selfridges, I will reveal just how much (or rather how little) of the television series was true and I will share with you some other stories such as the bet between Harry Gordon Selfridge and Harrods in 1917 and what the loser had to do.

Who knew shops could be so interesting!
Starting near Oxford Circus and ending at the great Selfridges store, I will take you on a walk round one of the world's premier shopping areas and tell you fascinating stories about some of the West End’s major stores and the characters behind them.

You will discover why a Marks and Spencer's store is named after a building in ancient Rome and find out Liberty’s unexpected connection to the British Navy. I will tell you about the fir…
From £12
/ person
No dates available

Meet your host, Stephen

Host on Airbnb since 2019
  • 1 Review
  • Identity verified
A Londoner by birth, I have lived here most of my life. Maybe it’s because I'm a Londoner, I am fascinated by how and why London is like it is. There’s always something new to see or find in London. And when I do, I love to share it.

As a qualified walking tour guide, I plan my tours not only to show you familiar places in a new light but also to dive down alleys you would not dare go down on your own. I point out things that are obvious but often overlooked and make connections you may not have thought of. I have a particular interest in the way transport has shaped London. I also love shops (department stores in particular) and theatre and cinema buildings. It is not just about telling you about the bricks and mortar but also sharing the stories of the people who worked in the buildings and who visited them.
A Londoner by birth, I have lived here most of my life. Maybe it’s because I'm a Londoner, I am fascinated by how and why London is like it is. There’s always something new to see or find in London. And when I do, I love to share it.

As a qualified walking tour guide, I plan my tours not only to show you familiar places in a new light but also to dive down alleys you would not dare go down on your own. I point out things that are obvious but often overlooked and make connections you…
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Where you'll be

I will take you along the central section of Oxford Street, starting near Oxford Circus and ending at Selfridges. I will also cover some other stores just off Oxford Street, such as Liberty, the former Dickens and Jones store and the original Debenhams. Although this area may seem familiar, most people do not stop and look at the buildings. i will show you things you may have missed and tell you about connections you may not have known.

1 review

Elisa
August 2019
The experience with Stephen was very interesting. He plans it in the morning to avoid crowds which I appreciated. Although it is about stores in London, I learned about different things that are conected to the stores. He helped me coordinate with my sister where we could meet after the tour. I would recommend it.
The experience with Stephen was very interesting. He plans it in the morning to avoid crowds which I appreciated. Although it is about stores in London, I learned about different t…

Things to know

Cancellation policy

Any experience can be cancelled and fully refunded within 24 hours of purchase, or at least 7 days before the experience starts.

Guest requirements

Up to 10 guests ages 18 and up can attend.

More tips

Please note you must book in advance for this.

What to bring

Sensible walking shoes and clothing appropriate to the weather (it might rain!)