Most businesses have to wait another three years for their milestone birthday but things are a little different in Sheffield – there’s an extra one.
But it has to be a pretty enduring business that can reach the grand old age of 147 – the iconic maximum break in the sport of snooker, the game which has become synonymous with the city since the World Championships first made it their home in the 1970s.
Atkinsons, Sheffield’s longest serving department store, celebrates its 147th birthday next Friday, April 19th, and one of snooker’s longest serving and highest profile stars, Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White, is set to cue up with shoppers as part of the celebrations.
The ‘peoples’ champion’ will be taking on all-comers on a full size snooker table that is being specially erected on the first floor of the store.
The Moor’s Atkinsons has been undergoing a renaissance in recent months under the tenure of manager David Cartwright as it looks to broaden its appeal. Sheffield’s flamboyant Lord Mayor, Councillor Magid Magid, hand-picked the unveiling of the store’s brand new men’s clothing department as one of his last duties just a few days ago.
John Atkinson opened his first shop on the Moor (then known as South Street) in 1872. The store has survived two world wars (it was flattened in the Sheffield Blitz of 1940), numerous recessions but remains the city centre’s largest independent department store.
One of its most notable past attractions was a crocodile that used to reside in the store’s in-house zoo in the 1930s. Early morning staff were horrified to find it had escaped – it was later found dead having fallen down the lift shaft.
Atkinsons’ 147th birthday isn’t the store’s only brush with a snooker star. In 1988, current Joint Managing Director Clive Hester and Furniture Buyer David Rose played a few frames with ‘Steady’ Eddie Charlton as part of a 24 hour charity fundraiser at the nearby Moorfoot Snooker Club.
David Cartwright said: “High street retail is facing massive challenges in 2019 and remaining relevant to our customers, how they want to shop or what they want to experience is highly appropriate. That’s why it is a true honour that Jimmy White is helping us celebrate such a big milestone. We look forward to welcoming people to the store to see the many changes we’ve been making.”
You can view the Atkinsons 147th birthday video here:
- Jimmy White will be in Atkinsons from 12.30pm until 3.30pm this Friday (April 19th)
He will set a break for customers to try and beat for a chance to win a signed snooker cue.
The event will also be raising money for Weston Park Cancer Charity – Atkinsons designated charity partner.