‘the Stores’

In the last podcast, I suggested that Carruthers might have got the Rippingille stove at the Army & Navy store on Victoria Street (now part of House of Fraser). By the end of the 19th century the Army & Navy was a hugely successful operation with outposts in Leipzig and Mumbai. Its roots in providing officers with group discounted goods seemed to me to be another of Childers’s attempts to suggest that the trip to Flensburg is a bit more of a military expedition, and a bit less of a duck shooting holiday. The Army & Navy even had a gun department , for goodness sake.

image from the House of Fraser archive: http://housefraserarchive.ac.uk/company/?id=c0512
image from the House of Fraser archive: http://housefraserarchive.ac.uk/company/?id=c0512

But club member Jon Ratty disagrees with me and has come up with a compelling argument for the Stores actually being the Civil Service Supply Association. He writes:

“Another distinct possibility is it was the Civil Service Supply Association, which had a store in the Strand.

It was set up by members of the civil service as a co-op to get decent prices on various things, and by the end of the C19th, all members of the service (like Carruthers) could pay a membership fee (2s 6d?) to use the store – initially in Victoria, then moving to bigger premises on the Strand – and I think (*think*) that they referred to it among themselves as the ‘the stores’.

My family link is that my father was a senior inspector at the Inland Revenue for many years, with a lovely corner office in Somerset House (you can still see the Inland Revenue sign in the stone over the end of the building) – and did a lot of his shopping for stuff in the CSSA building, although by then it was open to all as a private company, although there might have still been discounts to civil service staff.

I remember the building well – the clock on the corner was one if its most recognisable features.

The shop closed when the building burned down in the 1980s.”

Jon also supplied links to a picture of the original building and also a description of the fire of 1982 from the London Fire Journal. The clock, by the way, is still there.

The Civil Service Supply Association clock
The Civil Service Supply Association clock (image by Paul Downey, psd on Flickr)

Following up on Jon’s fine research, I found a newspaper article from the time that adds the intriguing fact that the fire was made all the worse by a serious of large explosions caused, allegedly, by “butane tanks displayed  in the store’s camping department”.

A camping department! I can’t help feeling that the camping department in the Civil Service Supply Association Stores is precisely where Carruthers would get his Rippingille stove. And one has to wonder – might a Rippingille also have exploded in1982 and caused the demise of ‘the Stores’?


2 thoughts on “‘the Stores’

  1. Hi.

    An older post I know but have only just come across it.

    I too have a familial connection to the CSSA and did some research of my own a while back. On the page link given above there’s a PDF, which is a ‘clean up’ of an article telling the story. Fascinating reading!



  2. My father went to work at the Civil Service Stores in 1929 as a member of the barber shop staff. He became assistant manager of that department and I can recall going there as a small child in around 1939/1940. We moved out of London in 1940 and my father was subsequently conscripted into the Royal Artillery for the duration of WWII. After the war he established his own business in Suffolk.


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