My regular readers will know that I succumbed to the charms of a 1940s woolen skirt from Tottie (who I subsequently met) a few weeks ago. It's a wonderful piece and looks and feels brand new - it could have been a brand new skirt, were it not for the CC41 label.
The most wonderful thing about it, though, is that it still had the sales tickets on it, and these got me wondering about where it came from, and what sort of woman would have bought it.
There was one CC41 ticket (Civilian Clothing 41 - wartime rationing lable), detailing fabric used, and another with the price - a whole 56/- (that's 56 shillings, or 2 pounds, 16 shillings). I used this website to tell me what that would equate to today. Assuming it was made in around 1945 (the CC41 mark dates it between 1942 and 1949), an equivilent skirt would be around £90 today. When it's compared to wages though, ie. the equivalent available cash a woman would have had to spend on it, it would be about £284 - a real luxury item! I think I got a bargain!
This skirt was made for Bourne and Hollingsworth, which was a prestigious London department store on Oxford Street in the West End. The store was built in 1984 and remodelled in art deco style in 1928.
During the night of 17th September 1940, at the hight of the Blitz, the shop was hit by high explosive bombs which gouged a huge hole in the store's interior and severely damaged several shop floors.
Despite the damage, the next day, in a powerful example of the 'Blitz spirit', the staff were back at work, unfurling large Union Flags to cover bomb damage to the store front. A week later, part of the eastern wing of the store was reopened for business.
Although the site is occupied by the modern Plaza shopping centre and adorned by a bronze ballerina statue, much of the art deco department store's upper stories survive, the letters 'BH' in 1920s' script still proclaiming the building's heritage proudly.
It makes me wonder if my skirt was in the building when the bomb dropped, did its previous owner crunch over glass covered pavements to browse the rails of clothes? I think I'll have to take extra care of this one!