I REMEMBER well the opening of the new Beales store after its rebuilding in the 1950s.

One of the highlights was the restaurant on the top floor. In its opening publicity, Beales boasted that they had the fastest lifts in the town. Bobby’s still had a gilt cage worked by a onelegged ex-serviceman sitting on a stool in the corner. The old Beales store, bombed in the war, had escalators, but these were considered rather old-fashioned for the new building!

After rising rapidly in the express lift to the top floor, the restaurant lobby featured very large oil paintings of members of the Beale family in their Bournemouth Council robes. The foyer was thus very formal and old-fashioned, and no warning of the amazing restaurant which you were about to enter.

In keeping with the latest Festival of Britain style, the restaurant was a far cry from the fusty and formal restaurants of shops like Bobby’s, Plummers and Brights. The ceiling was filled with huge metal chandeliers enameled in pastel pinks and greens, in the form of large stylised flowers. The restaurant in its pastel colours was a refreshing experience and far ahead of anything offered in other stores in the town. It really felt that the festival of Britain had arrived in Bournemouth.

The whole atmosphere summed up the fashions and decor of the early 1950.

Visiting many years later, I was sad that the Festival of Britain decor had been stripped out, and a very conventional restaurant created. I have often wondered what happened to those wonderful old 1950s light fittings.

Are there any photographs of the original restaurant as it was when the store opened?


Cam Road, Stratford, London