Bombed, rebuilt, sold as part of a £1.2m "rescue deal" and now at risk of going into administration within days

Bournemouth's Beales department store has had a long and interesting history since the store opened in 1881. 

We've compiled a gallery containing 26 pictures showing its highs and lows over the decades.

The flagship store of the Beales chain still stands on the same site where John Elmes Beale opened JE Beale Fancy Fair and Oriental House in 1881.

He later bought the Commercial Road draper’s shop of his friend Mr Okey and turned it into Bealesons.
In 1902, JE Beale was the first of three Beales to become mayor of Bournemouth.  Between 1900 and 1987, there was always at least one Beale on Bournemouth council.

The Bournemouth store took a direct hit from a Luftwafe bomber in 1943 and was rebuilt after the war.
In the late 1960s, Beales began an expansion programme that began in Poole and involved opening or acquiring stores across the south. Beale PLC floated on the Stock Exchange in 1995 and bought more stores. But in 2004, it announced a “major drop in profits” in Bournemouth, blaming the opening of Castlepoint.

The surprise decision to buy 19 stores from Anglia Regional Co-operative Society (ARCS) in 2011 was hailed as securing the chain’s future, but it also involved taking on a large debt.

In 2013, Beale PLC revealed a loss of almost £6m and refinanced its debts. 

Unprofitable stores were closed and the new chief executive, Michael Hitchcock, hailed a “turnaround”, later saying the “blood, sweat and tears” were starting to show results.