HMS Liberty – the Shop made from Ships

London is known for many things and one of them is its shopping. It is home to many famous stores including Harrods and Selfridges. Another world-famous shop is just off Regent Street and is called Liberty. You couldn’t fail to recognise it as it looks like a huge Tudor mansion. But there is a lot more to how it was built.

    When Arthur Lasenby Liberty opened his first shop in 1875, it had just three members of staff and sold fabrics and a range of ornaments imported from the Far East. Over the following years the shop grew and took over adjacent premises. For most of that time, the shops faced out onto Regent Street but in the 1920s they moved around the corner into Great Marlborough Street.

Liberty Department Store

    The exterior of the building is white with black timbers. The interior is arranged around a covered courtyard also displaying black timbers in abundance. The curious thing is where these timbers originated. They are in fact the remains of two ships – HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. Even more curious is if you were to measure the length of the shop in Great Marlborough Street, you would find it is the same length as that of HMS Hindustan.

    Great care and attention to detail was incorporated into the rest of the building. Stained glass was used for many of the windows. It also has many elaborate wooden staircases leading to its many floors. It almost presents a labyrinth for its customers to navigate through. And this has been a problem down the years. Many found themselves lost when trying to find different departments. A solution of sorts was found in the 1970s when the store produced a booklet for its customers containing a map of the store. It helped but from personal experience, it is still easy to get lost. When you next get the chance, check it out.

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