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Fenwick, the British chain of department stores, began as a Mantle Maker and Furrier, founded in 1882 by John James Fenwick. Born in Richmond, North Yorkshire in 1846, Fenwick had been a shop assistant in his father’s grocer’s shop, and an apprentice draper, but in 1881 or 1882 he opened his own shop in Newcastle. Initially the shop’s premises were a former doctor’s house at 5 Northumberland Street, purchased for £181. 4s. 0d. The shop sold fabrics, silk, clothes and trimmings. 

The business soon expanded into numbers 37, 38 and 40 Northumberland Street, and this remains the chain’s flagship store. John’s eldest son Fred Fenwick joined the business in 1890. Fred had trained in retail in Paris and is said to have been inspired by Le Bon Marché, which is regarded as one of the first ever department stores.

Today, Fenwick operates seven other outlets across England: Bracknell, Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Canterbury, Colchester, Kingston upon Thames, Tunbridge Wells and York. The original and flagship store in the group occupies a large site in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. The store has expanded many times since its foundation in 1882 and now consists of several interconnected buildings with entrances onto Northumberland Street, Eldon Square, Monument Metro Station and Blackett Street. The store is known locally for its extravagant Christmas window displays, filled with detailed sets and sophisticated moving figures, which have appeared since 1971. 

Around the start of 2024, a team from PTSG Fire Solutions Ltd completed an urgent out-of-hours dry riser maintenance job in a matter of hours at Fenwick department store in Newcastle. Upon completion, Fenwick commented on PTSG’s “very quick turn-around”, with its team proving the test certificate for the store’s dry risers within the same day of service. 

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