Categories / Architecture, Art and Photography

Lewis’s Fifth Floor: A Department Story – a lost 1950s world rediscovered

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All images (c) Stephen King

It's amazing to think that in the centre of modern-day Liverpool, there's a small pocket of the 1950s still in existence. You can find out all about it in Lewis’s Fifth Floor: A Department Story at the National Conservation Centre Whitechapel, Liverpool. 

Running from 26th February until 30th August 2010, Lewis’s Fifth Floor: A Department Story is a photography exhibition by Stephen King, featuring images taken in one of the UK’s oldest department stores, Lewis’s. King has visited the store’s ‘lost’ fifth floor, closed to the public for the last three decades. Its world of 1950s design has remained hidden since it was closed to the public in the early 1980s, being used as a storage floor ever since.


The two-part exhibition offers a rare glimpse of the spaces which originally comprised three restaurants and what was at one time the world’s largest hair salon, as well as highlighting the faces of 40 current and ex-employees. Included in the exhibition are images of the cafeteria which once seated 600 people, with its Grade II listed unique hand-painted ceramic tile work, designed by Carter’s of Poole and inspired by a mural at the 1951 Festival of Britain.

If you can't get along to see it, you'll also find details on the website or you can pick up a book that accompanies the exhibition, a 160-page hardback, which you'll find at Amazon, priced at just over £16.

Find out more about the book at the Amazon website

2 thoughts on “Lewis’s Fifth Floor: A Department Story – a lost 1950s world rediscovered

  1. I was really pleased to see included on here…as a designer who specialises in 1940’s/50’s reproduction clothing it was this aspect of Lewis’s Department Store that fuelled my decision to move last May from my old shop into a concession within the store (Liverpool’s oldest and sadly overlooked in favour of the clinical Liverpool One). The history of the store is wonderful, especially for those as in love with the Fifties as I am. You can see the Festival of Britain influences all over the store, even from the street outside. I would encourage anyone to come and see the store when visiting Liverpool…just try to see past the shabbiness (we are hoping for a complete renovation some time this year.)
    It really is a wonderful place, and I myself take advantage of the ‘Fifth Floor’ (which also includes the Sixth Floor…abandoned offices straight out of Mad Men!) for my photoshoots which are available to view on Facebook.
    Gillian Davis @ Rose and Anchor Boutique.

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