Bradbeers is a family run department store with branches in New Milton and Romsey. It has been running in Hampshire for over 170 years. It originally began as a small drapery shop in Southampton run by R. S. Smith. The store traded under various names until 1892 when Mr Bradbeer entered the business. The shop was destroyed during the bombing of Southampton during World War II, and the firm ceased trading in the city. Today, the core business is the department stores in New Milton and Romsey.


Beginnings and Name Changes

In 1837 a small drapery shop in Bernard Street, Southampton[1] was opened by Mr R. S. Smith. He was actively involved in the running of the business for another 50 years until his death in 1887. During that time, the firm's name changed to include the partners with whom he ran the business. In 1865 the business had changed its name to Smith, Bumpstead & Trippe, in 1884 it had changed to Smith, Brookman & Lewis, but following Mr Smith's death, Mr Lewis took over as manager, trading as Smith & Lewis until he retired in 1892. It was at this point that Mr Bradbeer entered the business and the firm became incorporated. It is perhaps worthy of note that Mr Smith never met Mr Bradbeer.[2]

New Southampton Store

In 1905 the company relocated to a prime site in Above Bar, Southampton. In 1935, the store was expanded by taking over the next door site. Mr Bradbeer remained a bachelor all his life, and when he died in 1932 he left the business to his employees. Two members of staff in particular benefited from this. The first was a Mr Saunders who had joined the firm back in 1895 and who was Mr Bradbeer's right hand man. The second was a Mr Gwilym Davies who had joined the firm in 1931 and who later married one of Mr Saunders' daughters. Gwilym Davies was the father of the present generation of owners of the business.[2]

World War II

The company experienced a major setback during the Blitz when the Southampton store received a direct hit by a bomb[1] on 23 November 1940. Two weeks later, however, the firm was trading again from sites in Shirley and New Milton. Plans were laid to rebuild the Southampton store after the war, but these were curtailed in 1949 when the local Council served a compulsory acquisition order. The following year's appeal was lost and so Smith Bradbeers left the city where it had been trading for over 100 years.[2]

Postwar Expansion

After the war, the company was trading from three towns; New Milton, Romsey and Eastleigh. 1969 saw the death of Gwilym Davies and the succession of his three sons to the helm of the business. The firm has continued to expand in the last 50 years.[2]

New Milton Store

The New Milton shop expanded vertically by building a new storey in 1969.[1] It is currently located at 126 - 134 Station Road, New Milton, Hampshire. It has a cookware department, ladies' shoes department, menswear department, haberdashery and gifts department, perfumery department, ladies' fashions department, lingerie department, soft furnishings department, linens department and a restaurant.[2]

Romsey Store

The Romsey shop expanded by buying up adjoining properties in the 1960s and 1970s. It is situated at 14-20 Bell Street, Romsey, Hampshire.[2]

Charitable Trust

The Smith Bradbeer Charitable Trust was set up in 1997 and is registered with the Charity Commissioners as Reg. Charity Number 1060418. Its stated objectives are "The advancement of the Christian religion (anywhere in the world); the advancement of education based on Christian principles; relief of poverty, hardship, distress, age and sickness; and other such charitable purposes for the benefit of the communities of Hampshire and Dorset".[2]

The Trust is dependent on Smith Bradbeer and Co for donations received, and is administered by a management committee comprising four trustees. The Trust donates a percentage of profits annually to a variety of causes and institutions for the advancement of its objectives. Recipients include Christian groups, schools, local community organisations, and individuals involved in Christian ministry. As is the rule for such trusts, each year the accounts are audited by independent examiners to ensure that they conform to the requirements of the Charities Act, 1993.[2]


External links

  • official site
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