The records deposited reflect the daily business life of a department store. Memorandum and reports on future buying trends are present as are reports on expansion plans and marketing strategies. Financial ledgers detailing takings, stock levels, staff wages and yearly accounts also feature in the deposit. Photographs of staff, company premises and goods sold by the business are prominent in the collection, as are sale and advertising catalogues, brochure and leaflets, miscellaneous items include log books of the firewatchers and circulars and training aids on V.A.T. and decimalisation, which were introduced in the 1970s. To place Bates against a national retailing background, documents of the Associated department Stores and the Retail Distributors Association are also included.
Records of Blake and Son were deposited with the Archives Office in February 1978 also with the reference number U2132.
Blake and Son was established in 1865 in the High Street, Maidstone. It was a prestigious department store with accommodation above which, at various times in the store's history, housed sales staff or the owner's family. Although the store was closed in 1978, its ornate facade was preserved and various items from the interior (which included a pulley-system for transporting bills and receipts from the cashers) were given to Maidstone Museum.
In the 1920's the store was taken over by W.F.C. Miles and remained in his family until 1969. Mr. R.P.G. Howes married Miss Marjorie Miles in October 1946 and took an active part in the running of the firm, and R.F. Frazer also had an interest in the firm at that time.
Although there are fairly complete financial records existing for the period after World War 2, there is nothing in the collection from before 1907, and corporate records only relate to 1947 and 1948.
Fortunately Miss Megan Agate, who worked at the store from the age of 14 until the store's closure (by which time she was the Lingerie, Corsetry and Separates Buyer), very kindly visited the Records Office and supplied the above information.
Note: All the material deposited is from Edward Bates Ltd unless otherwise indicated