Do you remember this Luton toy store famous for its Christmas displays and events?

Partridge’s on Chapel Street closed in 1980

By Carly Smith, Luton Heritage Forum
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 3:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th December 2021, 4:02 pm

Generations of young Lutonians will remember visiting Partridge’s on Chapel Street to spend their hard-saved pocket money or wonder at its vast array of toys and bikes.

The shop was purpose-built in 1901 to house the new ‘Luton Cycle Emporium’ and began trading the following year as the sole local agent for New Hudson Cycles.

By the 1920s, Partridge’s had diversified beyond bicycles. On the 21st of December 1923, a local paper reported that a model steam engine had been recovered by police from a 15-year-old boy’s home after it was stolen from the store the previous Saturday morning.

Partridge's shop

Shown in this article in December 1945, the store was famous locally for its Christmas displays and events. Over the years these included theatre performances, a ‘Lollipop Land’ complete with ‘flood-lit fountain’ and, as early as the 1930s, a resident Father Christmas.

In 1954, then-Santa Claus, Mr Grummitt, told the Luton News: “The parents like to see Father Christmas almost as much as the children do. Many children up to 11 believe in Father Christmas. I think the idea is more popular than ever – it will never die out.”

The Christmas of 1979 would be Partridge’s last. The store closed in January 1980 when the building was sold to the Bank of Ireland. Today, the premises is vacant after most recently being home to a Jennings Bet shop. The bevelled glass windows have long been replaced with a simpler frontage, but the ornate ornamental iron cresting on the roof and other original features remain.

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