Humble beginnings

Photo:The exterior of Tyrrell and Green from 1911, decorated for the coronation of King George V

The exterior of Tyrrell and Green from 1911, decorated for the coronation of King George V

By Jonathan Blatchford

Setting up shop

In 1897, Reginald Tyrrell and William Green opened their first shop at 21 to 24 Angelsea Place, Tyrrell and Green They were known to locals as drapers, milliners and ladies and children’s outfitters. Following initial success, the pair moved to a new location on Above Bar Street, Southampton’s main shopping street. Here they occupied four houses. Tyrrell, being an adept businessman was actually involved in another shop at this point, called Plummer, Roddis and Tyrrell. This shop traded opposite Tyrrell and Green, and was initially a far larger business trading up and down the South Coast of England. Tyrrell left the Plummer and Roddis business in 1898, and focused his unwavering attention on making Tyrrell and Green successful.

A high class enterprise

From the outset, the store was very much a high-class shop, capitalising from a loyal and wealthy customer base. Business flourished and the premises expanded. By 1920, the shop operated out of nine houses and sales passed £180,000. The shop was made a public company, with a nominal capital of £142,500. At this point Tyrrell withdrew, leaving Mr and Mrs Green in charge. Mrs Green embraced her new opportunity, taking over much of the fashion buying in the shop, whilst Mr Green was responsible for piece goods and haberdashery.

Sold and bought back in the space of two years

In 1931, the shop was extended upwards, having previously traded from just the ground and first floor. The Barova restaurant was opened, and proved so popular that it soon took over a third of the first floor. At this point, Mr and Mrs Green wanted out, selling the business to Barkers of Mile End Road in London. After acquiring the shop, Barkers conducted a lengthy sale at vastly diminished prices to get rid of the old stock. Low quality cheaper products replaced all the high end lines. Appalled at this attack on the store’s very culture, Mr and Mrs Green promptly bought back the business the following year. In an advert proclaiming their own clearance sale taken from the Southern Daily Echo of 19th August 1933, the Green’s declared that:

‘It is imperative we clear out of stock of all goods on hand at the present time in order to recreate the old Tyrrell and Green atmosphere and ensure entirely new stocks in all departments at the beginning of September’.

Such fortitude and desire was short-lived, as the John Lewis Partnership acquired the shop in February 1934 as part of a move to expand the Partnership into the provinces.

This page was added by Jonathan Blatchford on 26/08/2014.