House of Fraser Bath – Housing History
Situated in the historic town of Bath, House of Fraser has seen a stunning transformation throughout the entire store. Positioned on Milton Street, the seven historic Grade ΙΙ listed buildings that are connected to present the House of Fraser store, have been completely refurbished and restored.
Having been in existence since 1831, the site was formerly known as ‘Jolly’s’ due to the original owners of the business – the Jolly family. House of Fraser – as it is now known – is still referred to as ‘Jolly’s’ by many of the locals to this day. Normech Interiors acted as main contractor on the developments, delivering their services to produce a site that combines culture with contemporary.
Premier Retail spoke to Lucy Morgan, Senior Creative Project Manager in the visual team at House of Fraser, to find out more on the developments. Lucy said:
“Originally built as houses, the joined buildings still present some of their original features to this day. The store started as Jolly’s Emporium run by the Jolly family and despite its rebranding to House of Fraser in the ‘70s, it is still known as this by many of us in the town.
“The project took place throughout 2014 and once it was all complete, we carried out a launch in November 2014. This launch was very well received, and the feedback has been very positive which has been reflected in the sales at the store.
“The building was listed in the early 1950s and the exterior has maintained its original features since then, and even up to that point the building was always very Georgian; so from the first floor up the exterior still displays the stonework and original sash windows.”
Boasting an enchanting heritage, the building has preserved some of its original features such as the original façade and stonework – which just needed touching up a bit – and an art nouveau hand painted feature that spreads across the top of the ground floor. Other original characteristics include architectural details such as plasterwork and stonework in addition to stunning stained glass and original fireplaces.
“The space is very rich in detail; the building is all listed so we had to focus on historical detail and keeping in line with English Heritage, prior to the modern shop fit. Queen Mary’s dressing room is an impressive part of the store – she would come to the store to shop personally so a dressing room was built just for her – that is obviously also listed and has intricate ornate plasterwork and archways.”
A charming store that emanates so much history, House of Fraser Bath also has modern aspects, as a retail store generally should. A grand marble staircase is the focal point on the main floor, accompanied by a wealth of porcelain and marble flooring in that area, displaying a contemporary and sophisticated visual aesthetic.
House of Fraser Bath trades on two floors – ground floor and first floor – but there is also a lower floor with cellars and stockrooms utilised by staff members.
“It’s fabulous, I went down there to project manage some of the visual work, and then found a lot of archive materials in the form of documents and things that went back to the early 1800s – so then I started going through those to see what we could use for the store, and people became curious and wanted to know more about it.
“The locals are very proud of the store and I think some people were worried that the store’s history would be lost, so we thought it was important to hold onto it. Gradually I learned the archives to it and we ended up creating a history trail which involves ten points around the store that reveal the history of the building and customers can use a map to navigate around the space. This injects something fun but also educational to House of Fraser Bath.
“It was a very interesting project and I liked it a lot, I definitely learned a lot about the store and architectural details, so it was great to be involved with it. It’s also great to see a building having maintained its history but also present a contemporary retail space simultaneously.”