Moment delighted Selfridges shopper got her hands on pair of nylon tights in 1946

With a look of glee on her face, a female shopper holds out a pair of nylon tights in front of her during a trip to Selfridges.

She was among the hundreds of thousands of men and women who piled into Selfridges in 1946 – and every year since then – to get their hands on the wide range of goods on offer.

Nylon tights were scarce during the Second World War because the material was used to make parachutes and other essentials, prompting women to draw seams on their legs to make it appear as thought they were still wearing stockings. 

It meant that British women were delighted when American troops stationed in the UK brought nylon tights over with them.  

The image of the woman is among several from the Top Foto archive which show off Selfridges’ 112-year history. 

They have been colourised after news yesterday that the department store has been put up for sale by owners the Weston family.

Also seen in the collection is an image dating from 1920 of a smartly-dressed man showing a policeman a tiny copy of Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis which was on sale Selfridges. 

A third photo shows famous English aviator Captain Campbell Black in January 1936 explaining to a group of children how an aeroplane engine worked. 

The Selfridges company has been valued at as much as £4billion. The Weston family’s advisors, Credit Suisse, will send out information memoranda – documents used to pitch the target to potential bidders – to begin the sale process, which could be completed by the end of the year.

It was first reported last month that the retail business could be sold after an unnamed bidder approached the Westons – who own a majority stake in Primark owner Associated British Foods – with a move to buy Selfridges.

In 1908, Harry Gordon Selfridge invested £400,000 of his own money in opening a department store at the then-unfashionable west end of Oxford Street after visiting London from his native Wisconsin, in the USA.

Selfridges & Co went on to become a household name, with Selfridge chairing the company until he was ousted in 1941 after becoming obsessed with twin sisters who were dubbed the Cheeky Girls of their day. 

With a look of glee on her face, a female shopper holds out a pair of nylon tights in front of her during a trip to Selfridges. She was among the hundreds of thousands of men and women who piled into Selfridges in 1946 - and every year since then - to get their hands on the wide range of goods on offer

With a look of glee on her face, a female shopper holds out a pair of nylon tights in front of her during a trip to Selfridges. She was among the hundreds of thousands of men and women who piled into Selfridges in 1946 - and every year since then - to get their hands on the wide range of goods on offer

With a look of glee on her face, a female shopper holds out a pair of nylon tights in front of her during a trip to Selfridges. She was among the hundreds of thousands of men and women who piled into Selfridges in 1946 – and every year since then – to get their hands on the wide range of goods on offer

The image is among several from the Top Foto archive which show of the shop's 112-year history. They have been colourised after news yesterday that the department store has been put up for sale by owners the Weston family. Above: A smartly-dressed man shows a policeman a tiny copy of Shakespeare's poem Venus and Adonis which was on sale Selfridges

The image is among several from the Top Foto archive which show of the shop's 112-year history. They have been colourised after news yesterday that the department store has been put up for sale by owners the Weston family. Above: A smartly-dressed man shows a policeman a tiny copy of Shakespeare's poem Venus and Adonis which was on sale Selfridges

The image is among several from the Top Foto archive which show of the shop’s 112-year history. They have been colourised after news yesterday that the department store has been put up for sale by owners the Weston family. Above: A smartly-dressed man shows a policeman a tiny copy of Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis which was on sale Selfridges

The Selfridges company has been valued at as much as £4billion. The Weston family's advisors, Credit Suisse, will send out information memoranda - documents used to pitch the target to potential bidders - to begin the sale process, which could be completed by the end of the year

The Selfridges company has been valued at as much as £4billion. The Weston family's advisors, Credit Suisse, will send out information memoranda - documents used to pitch the target to potential bidders - to begin the sale process, which could be completed by the end of the year

The Selfridges company has been valued at as much as £4billion. The Weston family’s advisors, Credit Suisse, will send out information memoranda – documents used to pitch the target to potential bidders – to begin the sale process, which could be completed by the end of the year 

A third photo shows famous English aviator Captain Campbell Black in January 1936 explaining to a group of children how an aeroplane engine worked

A third photo shows famous English aviator Captain Campbell Black in January 1936 explaining to a group of children how an aeroplane engine worked

A third photo shows famous English aviator Captain Campbell Black in January 1936 explaining to a group of children how an aeroplane engine worked

Selfridges gave people such as this tradesman, Mr Rann, for 50 years a maker of wooden horses, the chance to show off their craft to shoppers. The above image was taken in March 1936

Selfridges gave people such as this tradesman, Mr Rann, for 50 years a maker of wooden horses, the chance to show off their craft to shoppers. The above image was taken in March 1936

Selfridges gave people such as this tradesman, Mr Rann, for 50 years a maker of wooden horses, the chance to show off their craft to shoppers. The above image was taken in March 1936

Another photo taken in the first half of the 20th century shows young girls sitting on rocking horses as they had their hair cut at Selfridges

Another photo taken in the first half of the 20th century shows young girls sitting on rocking horses as they had their hair cut at Selfridges

Another photo taken in the first half of the 20th century shows young girls sitting on rocking horses as they had their hair cut at Selfridges

The Selfridges continuation school opened in 1925 and catered for male and female pupils from 14 to 18, teaching a wide range of classes from reading and writing to cookery, cleaning and sewing. The above women were doing a cooking class in February 1920

The Selfridges continuation school opened in 1925 and catered for male and female pupils from 14 to 18, teaching a wide range of classes from reading and writing to cookery, cleaning and sewing. The above women were doing a cooking class in February 1920

The Selfridges continuation school opened in 1925 and catered for male and female pupils from 14 to 18, teaching a wide range of classes from reading and writing to cookery, cleaning and sewing. The above women were doing a cooking class in February 1920

Galen Weston Jr (second from left) with his wife Alexandra Schmidt (left), mother Hilary and father Galen Weston Sr, who died in April this year

Galen Weston Jr (second from left) with his wife Alexandra Schmidt (left), mother Hilary and father Galen Weston Sr, who died in April this year

Galen Weston Jr (second from left) with his wife Alexandra Schmidt (left), mother Hilary and father Galen Weston Sr, who died in April this year

He was the focus of the popular ITV drama Mr Selfridge, in which he was portrayed by American actor Jeremy Piven.

The firm has been controlled by the Weston family since 2003.

It is understood that no formal bid has yet been tabled for the iconic shop, but a small number of parties have already expressed their potential interest.

The business runs 25 stores worldwide, including its flagship Oxford Street store and Birmingham site within the Bullring.

Selfridges has performed strongly in recent years, despite a wider downturn in the department store sector which has seen the collapse of Debenhams and declines at major rivals.

Meanwhile, Selfridges has seen a surge in profitability over the past decade as it has been boosted by heavy investment in stores.

Nevertheless, the group was hit by the enforced closure of sites during the pandemic.

A year ago, the company cut some 450 jobs, around 14 per cent of its total headcount, following the ‘toughest year’ in its history.

It will now face the significant challenge of weakened footfall and fewer tourists in key areas, such as Oxford Street.

When it opened, Selfridges was a shopping marvel unrivalled by other retailers.

Early Spring fashion window display at Selfridges in December 1946. Shoppers were drawn to the opulent interior of the store, as well as the host of different products which were on offer

Early Spring fashion window display at Selfridges in December 1946. Shoppers were drawn to the opulent interior of the store, as well as the host of different products which were on offer

Early Spring fashion window display at Selfridges in December 1946. Shoppers were drawn to the opulent interior of the store, as well as the host of different products which were on offer

View of some of the Christmas decorations outside Selfridges on Oxford Street on November 23, 1957

View of some of the Christmas decorations outside Selfridges on Oxford Street on November 23, 1957

View of some of the Christmas decorations outside Selfridges on Oxford Street on November 23, 1957

Customers are seen here looking at the quilts and bedspreads on offer during the post-Christmas sale in December 1963

Customers are seen here looking at the quilts and bedspreads on offer during the post-Christmas sale in December 1963

Customers are seen here looking at the quilts and bedspreads on offer during the post-Christmas sale in December 1963

Selfridges sold everything which Londoners could possibly want, including an array of books. Above: A stand advertising a new release in 1946

Selfridges sold everything which Londoners could possibly want, including an array of books. Above: A stand advertising a new release in 1946

Selfridges sold everything which Londoners could possibly want, including an array of books. Above: A stand advertising a new release in 1946

This colourised image shows Londoners massed outside Selfridges to look at its Christmas display in 1948

This colourised image shows Londoners massed outside Selfridges to look at its Christmas display in 1948

This colourised image shows Londoners massed outside Selfridges to look at its Christmas display in 1948

Shoppers passing through a tunnel of tubular scaffolding which was erected at the famous Oxford Street Selfridge store

Shoppers passing through a tunnel of tubular scaffolding which was erected at the famous Oxford Street Selfridge store

Shoppers passing through a tunnel of tubular scaffolding which was erected at the famous Oxford Street Selfridge store

In 1908, Harry Gordon Selfridge invested £400,000 of his own money in opening a department store at the then-unfashionable west end of Oxford Street after visiting London from his native Wisconsin, in the USA

In 1908, Harry Gordon Selfridge invested £400,000 of his own money in opening a department store at the then-unfashionable west end of Oxford Street after visiting London from his native Wisconsin, in the USA

Harry with his daughter Rosalie

Harry with his daughter Rosalie

In 1908, Harry Gordon Selfridge (pictured right with his daughter Rosalie) invested £400,000 of his own money in opening a department store at the then-unfashionable west end of Oxford Street after visiting London from his native Wisconsin, in the USA

The shop was an instant hit with Londoners. It is seen above on its opening day in March 1909. Crowds of men and women are seen waiting to get inside

The shop was an instant hit with Londoners. It is seen above on its opening day in March 1909. Crowds of men and women are seen waiting to get inside

The shop was an instant hit with Londoners. It is seen above on its opening day in March 1909. Crowds of men and women are seen waiting to get inside 

The Oxford Street store boasted nine Otis lifts which took customers around more than 100 departments selling everything from swimsuits to fur coats.

The central aim was to give people comfort as they shopped.

How Mr Selfridge was financially ruined by his pursuit of the 1920s ‘Cheeky Girls’ 

ITV’s Mr Selfridge told the story of how Harry Selfridge was financially ruined by his pursuit of twin dancers Jenny and Rose Dolly, who were dubbed the ‘Cheeky Girls’ of their era.

Selfridge was a 67-year-old widower when he met Jenny and Rose, who were known professionally as the Dolly Sisters.

The women loved to gamble and Harry is believed to have spent $4million to support their habit. Today, that figure is worth around $60million – or £43.5million.

ITV's Mr Selfridge told the story of how Harry Selfridge was financially ruined by his pursuit of twin dancers Jenny and Rose Dolly, who were dubbed the 'Cheeky Girls' of their era

ITV's Mr Selfridge told the story of how Harry Selfridge was financially ruined by his pursuit of twin dancers Jenny and Rose Dolly, who were dubbed the 'Cheeky Girls' of their era

ITV’s Mr Selfridge told the story of how Harry Selfridge was financially ruined by his pursuit of twin dancers Jenny and Rose Dolly, who were dubbed the ‘Cheeky Girls’ of their era

The tycoon also bought the women the best furs, jewels and evening gowns.

Andrew Davies, who created the ITV show, previously said of the sisters:

‘I think Harry’s relationship with The Dolly Sisters was the beginning of his downfall because he was mixing his personal money with company money.

‘The girls were a drain on him financially but made an even bigger dent on his reputation.

‘People trusted his judgment less because he was such a fool for them.’

Harry is known to have slept with Jenny and also offered her $10million to marry him.

However, Jenny was involved in a car accident in 1933 and needed to sell her jewellery to pay for plastic surgery operations.

Harry stepped into help but never tied the knot with the glamorous woman. She hanged herself in 1941 after suffering from depression. Rose died in 1970, aged 77.

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Customers were treated to piped music and the scent of perfume in the air, whilst restaurants allowed shoppers to relax with a plate of food.

The store also boasted a hairdressers and manicure service.

Harry Selfridge liked to claim that his store helped to ’emancipate’ women. ‘I came along when they wanted to step out on their own,’ he said.

‘They came to the store and realised some of their dreams.’

When it first emerged in 1925, television was demonstrated to the public at Selfridges.

As well as the department store chain, Harry Selfridge also established a school for the young boys and girls who worked for him.

The Selfridges continuation school opened in 1925 and catered for male and female pupils from 14 to 18, teaching a wide range of classes from reading and writing to cookery, cleaning and sewing.

The school was founded at a time when the school leaving age for children in Britain was 14, raised from just 12 by the Education Act of 1918.

Although youngsters were allowed to leave school at 14, they were obliged to attend ‘continuation schools’ part-time until they were 18.

Images from Selfridge’s classes from 1920 show girls studying books, learning how to do laundry and taking part in ‘physical culture’ classes.

In 1940, the John Lewis Partnership bought what were then the 16 stores – besides the Oxford Street flagship – which made up Selfridges.

In 1951, the Liverpool-based Lewis’s – separate from the JLP – bought the Oxford Street shop.

Then, in 1965, the business was sold to the Sears Group, which was owned by British magnate Sir Charles Clore.

Under the Sears Group’s ownership, further stores were opened and Selfridge’s was split from Lewis’s, which was placed into administration.

Further expansion in 1998 saw Selfridges open in Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Exchange Square. Another store opened in Birmingham’s Bullring in 2003.

That year, Galen Weston bought the business. The Weston family now boasts a portfolio of more than 200 companies, including Canada’s largest supermarket chain, Loblaws.

In May, the Sunday Times rich list named the family’s Garfield Weston Foundation as being the largest single donor to businesses hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The foundation gave away a total of £45million, with more than £30million given to arts organisations.

ITV’s Mr Selfridge told the story of how Harry Selfridge was financially ruined by his pursuit of twin dancers Jenny and Rose Dolly, who were dubbed the ‘Cheeky Girls’ of their era.

Selfridge was a 67-year-old widower when he met Jenny and Rose, who were known professionally as the Dolly Sisters.

The women loved to gamble and Harry is believed to have spent $4million to support their habit. Today, that figure is worth around $60million – or £43.5million.

The tycoon also bought the women the best furs, jewels and evening gowns.

Andrew Davies, who created the ITV show, previously said of the sisters: ‘I think Harry’s relationship with The Dolly Sisters was the beginning of his downfall because he was mixing his personal money with company money.

‘The girls were a drain on him financially but made an even bigger dent on his reputation.

‘People trusted his judgment less because he was such a fool for them.’

Harry Selfridge was the focus of the popular ITV drama Mr Selfridge, in which he was portrayed by American actor Jeremy Piven (above centre)

Harry Selfridge was the focus of the popular ITV drama Mr Selfridge, in which he was portrayed by American actor Jeremy Piven (above centre)

Harry Selfridge was the focus of the popular ITV drama Mr Selfridge, in which he was portrayed by American actor Jeremy Piven (above centre)

The Oxford Street store boasted nine Otis lifts which took customers around more than 100 departments selling everything from swimsuits to fur coats

The Oxford Street store boasted nine Otis lifts which took customers around more than 100 departments selling everything from swimsuits to fur coats

The Oxford Street store boasted nine Otis lifts which took customers around more than 100 departments selling everything from swimsuits to fur coats

Customers were treated to piped music and the scent of perfume in the air, whilst restaurants allowed shoppers to relax with a plate of food

Customers were treated to piped music and the scent of perfume in the air, whilst restaurants allowed shoppers to relax with a plate of food

Customers were treated to piped music and the scent of perfume in the air, whilst restaurants allowed shoppers to relax with a plate of food

Harry is known to have slept with Jenny and also offered her $10million to marry him.

However, Jenny was involved in a car accident in 1933 and needed to sell her jewellery to pay for plastic surgery operations.

Harry stepped into help but never tied the knot with the glamorous woman. She hanged herself in 1941 after suffering from depression. Rose died in 1970, aged 77.

Largely due to the money he lavished on the sisters, Harry’s fortune disappeared and he ended up owing £250,000 in tax. He was then forced out of Selfridges in 1941.

Surviving on a reduced pension, Harry lived in a rented flat and would catch the bus to visit Selfridges. On one occasion, he was arrested by police who believed he was a vagrant.

The former businessman died penniless in 1947.

The business runs 25 stores worldwide, including its flagship Oxford Street store and Birmingham site within the Bullring. Above: The Birmingham store

The business runs 25 stores worldwide, including its flagship Oxford Street store and Birmingham site within the Bullring. Above: The Birmingham store

The business runs 25 stores worldwide, including its flagship Oxford Street store and Birmingham site within the Bullring. Above: The Birmingham store

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