The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Events Archive

Online: Twentieth Century Shops Lecture Series 2: Department Stores




Twentieth Century Shops Lecture Series 2: Department Stores

Thursday 8 February at 6.30 pm


The second lecture in the series Twentieth Century Shops: From Arndale to Zara, marking the publication of 100 20th Century Shops.

Department stores evolved in the late nineteenth century but by the First World War had grown in ambition, both architecturally and in business terms, and came to dominate the retail scene of the middle decades of the twentieth century. The interwar years saw the sector shift away from local family businesses to the groupings that remain familiar today, such as Selfridges, Debenhams and House of Fraser. In the 21st century their future is uncertain, with changing shopping habits and the Covid pandemic leading to many department stores becoming redundant. Matthew Whitfield will look at the history and architecture of buildings that shaped our high street but are now under threat.

Matthew Whitfield is an architectural investigator at Historic England, for whom he has been researching the history of department stores.

Zoom price:  C20 Society Members- £6;   

Non-Members- £8; Young C20 member + guest – Free;

Student + guest- £4.

*For student pricing please select from the dropdown option next to 'membership number' on the booking form below.*

*For Young C20 members, please email to secure a place.*

Note: This event is hybrid and is being run both in-person at Cowcross Street Gallery and online via Zoom. The event will be recorded and offered as a catch-up lecture for those who have booked and will be available for two weeks.

We will send you a Zoom link by email after you book, which will enable you to “join” the event. You should receive an automated link within an hour of booking so please check your spam/junk emails if you haven't received this. Any further problems please contact

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The Twentieth Century Society is an IHBC (Institute of Historic Building conservation) recognised CPD provider.

The Twentieth Century Society is a registered charity, no 1110244

Above image:  Department Stores -  Knight and Lee, Southsea (1955-59) © John East