Selfridges celebrated for achieving National Heritage Listed status

Project Earth launch. PHOTO MATT WRITTLE/SELFRIDGES © copyright Matt Writtle 2020.

Selfridges department store on London’s Oxford Street is being celebrated along with 400 other historic places which have been added to Historic England’s National Heritage List of treasures this year and gained additional protection as a result.

The famous department store joins other historical sites, including a well-preserved 18th century shipwreck in Kent and a Victorian railway station café in the Midlands, on the list.

As one of the world’s most famous department stores, Selfridges “played a huge part in transforming Britain’s retail scene at the turn of the 20th century, much to its owner, Harry Gordon Selfridge’s, credit,” Historic England said.

Through elaborate window dressing, excellent customer service and clever advertising, the department store became a social and cultural institution open to the general public.  

“The store delighted customers from the get-go, holding fashion shows, exhibitions and concerts and displaying iconic items such as the aeroplane from Louis Blériot’s 1909 cross-Channel flight and the first moving picture television by inventor John Logie Baird.

“Selfridges also played a significant role during the Second World War by housing the SIGSALY scrambling apparatus, which ensured secure communication between Britain and America for transatlantic conferences.”

Built in four main phases between 1906 and 1928, the building boasts work by the leading architects and craftsman of the day, including D H Burnham and Co, Frank Atkinson, Sir John Burnet and Thomas Tait.

Commenting on the 2020 list, Historic England Chief Executive Duncan Wilson said: “Every year, Historic England works to protect the most significant historic sites across the country.

Despite the challenges that the heritage sector has faced this year, 2020 has seen many brilliant additions to the List.  

“From a picturesque footbridge in Essex to an excellently preserved Victorian railway station café in the Midlands, we want to ensure England’s rich and varied cultural heritage is protected so that the public can continue to cherish the heritage that makes their local places so important.”