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Centenary for Yarmouth Marks and Sparks

PUBLISHED: 11:07 19 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:07 30 June 2010

THE Marks & Spencer store in Great Yarmouth marked its 100-year anniversary yesterday with a host of in-store celebrations.

Mayor Tony Smith helped store manager Luke Osborne and staff present and past to officially kick off the special anniversary with a ribbon and cake cutting ceremony before inviting customers to enjoy three days of celebrations.

THE Marks & Spencer store in Great Yarmouth marked its 100-year anniversary yesterday with a host of in-store celebrations.

Mayor Tony Smith helped store manager Luke Osborne and staff present and past to officially kick off the special anniversary with a ribbon and cake cutting ceremony before inviting customers to enjoy three days of celebrations.

An archive exhibition charting the history of the store in words and pictures, is on display and limited edition seaside sticks of rock will be handed out to customers. There is a series of food and wine tastings, an Easter egg hunt for children and a town crier will be on hand to spread the centenary messages. And, as a memento of the milestone, store staff will also be presented with a commemorative printed t-shirt and pen.

M&S Yarmouth first opened its doors at 23 King Street in 1910, originally as a Penny Bazaar, and was joined a year later by a second store at 65 George Street. Both stores would have sold all goods for just 1p which, at that time, would have been mainly household items such as gardening equipment and crockery. The King Street store closed before 1920 but in 1932 - when M&S embarked on a nationwide expansion of its stores - Yarmouth moved to 5-7 King Street where a new “super store” with a sales floor of 7,600 sq ft was opened.

Following an extension in 1937, the advent of the second world war took its toll when, in 1941, the store was destroyed by enemy fire. During the night-long raid, the then manageress Miss Docwra battled through the flaming store to rescue records and takings, a feat that earned her a letter of appreciation from an M&S company director.

As a result of the damage, a temporary store opened in 1946 in the disused Plaza Cinema, trading until 1952 when a brand new store - rebuilt on the site of the original store - was opened, with an expanded sales floor stretching to 15,400 sq ft.

More recently, in 2004, the store was given a fresh facelift with new signage and equipment.

Throughout its history, M&S Yarmouth has championed local charity initiatives, regularly taking part in the annual town carnival and supporting worthwhile causes such as the East Coast Hospice (for whom staff at the store recently raised £4,240) to Prostate Cancer awareness and the Big C Appeal.

Luke Osborne, M&S Yarmouth Store Manager, said: “We're really looking forward to celebrating the store's 100th birthday - M&S has such a rich history here in the town and we hope to be able to mark this momentous milestone with as many of our customers as possible.”

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