Bodgers closes down

Bodgers store in Ilford closed today (28 Feb 2018.) It was essentially the last of the iconic department stores the town once had. Other famed departmentals such as Wests, Harrison Gibsons, etc had succumbed many years ago. I always found Bodgers fascinating, being the more unusual of the Ilford department stores due to its building’s strikingly curved alignment on the corner of Cranbrook and Station Roads – though when I was a kid the clanging, banging, old lift in nearby Wests was another must!

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Practically the whole store in view!

I thought I would pay a visit to the store on its final day, especially as I’ve known it for almost half the time it has existed. That first visit ever to the store would have been about 1958! (Generally the journey in those days took us about ten minutes on either a 25, 145 or 148.)

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Bodgers was once No. 1 in Ilford, but not anymore…

I arrived at Ilford train station ten minutes before 4pm and by the time I crossed the road and saw the notice about altered closing times, it meant a rush as the time had been brought forward from 7pm due to the inclement weather conditions.

A couple of tweets from the final minutes of Bodgers….

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We close our doors for the final time today….

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Just after 4pm ‘The last transaction has been made…’

The original Bodgers was practically opposite, fronting the High Road. Its now Ilford’s Poundland store.

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The now classic curved, sloping, frontage was built as part of of a scheme to widen Cranbrook Road as far as Ilford Broadway. Very modern for its time

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Some parts of the store were vastly empty

The closure means the last of the old Ilford stores has gone. That’s three in a row along Cranbrook Road, starting with West’s (opened 1934, closed early 1980s) then C&A (built circa 1959 closed 2000) and finally Bodgers. Both C&A & Bodgers had highly modernised and unusual shop fronts. Ultimately that didnt save C&A nor Bodgers. Harrison Gibsons and Moultons, two more of Ilford’s iconic stores located in the High Road and despite being ultra modern, these too succumbed to progress.

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Empty shelves on the upper sales floor

 Ilford was once a highly reputable shopping town. I think the introduction of the one way system instigated the town’s decline as numerous bus routes were diverted away from the shops. Not many locals liked this new system. It wasn’t convenient despite what the council apparently thought. In fact traffic jams became a regular feature, stretching all the way along Green Lanes, sometimes right beyond Goodmayes. Nowdays Westfield and Lakeside are the area’s greater attractors and the provision of a modern shopping centre in Ilford hasn’t much helped.

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Senior staff keeping their chins up despite the closure

Although there was some joviality as most staff kept up a cheerful face, after the appointed hour had passed a lot of staff were tearful and there was lots of hugging and kisses. The store’s staff either left almost immediately or were those who needed to stay and wrap up the premises.  Some staff will move to other stores that are owned by parent company Morleys.

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Probably the only wares left in plentiful supply

Practically all the shelves had been emptied save for a few toys and gifts. There was loads of bedding on the lower ground floor however. I expect this will go to the company’s other stores.

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The empty Cafe Moda at the rear of Bodgers

The cafe clearly closed some time weeks before as it was absolutely empty. I don’t know how long the store will remain empty or whether it has been sold. Clearly the task in hand will be to clear the building, sell it off and then erase Bodgers from Ilford’s consciousness.

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As soon as the doors shut contractors began taking down shelves and other fittings

The store began in 1890 as The John Bodger Store. Bodgers of Ilford closed 2018. RIP.

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