MEMORIES are being served up today of a popular store in Weymouth town centre.

These wonderful photos from our archives show the much loved Bon Marche store - a busy store that sold ladies’ fashions, babywear, millinery, drapery and haberdashery.

This lovely and informative article from our archives, written in 2010, tells of Clarice Strong (nee Butler), Margaret Knight (nee Townsend) and Joan Bray (nee Groves) meeting up for the first time in almost 50 years after working in Bon Marche at the end of the Second World War.

They all started in the shop when they left school aged 14. Joan and Margaret went to the Central School and Clarice was educated at the Cheriton School in Stavordale Road.

Dorset Echo: Weymouth's Bon Marche store Weymouth's Bon Marche store

They have mainly happy memories of their years at Bon Marche but remember with fear some of the senior members of staff.

Margaret remembered: “There was a Mrs Watts and a Mrs Randall, who was the floor walker and very strict. When you sold something and took the bill for her to sign off, if you hadn’t done it properly she would throw it to the floor and tell you to do it again.”

Joan added: “There was also a very rude man who worked in the material section who would say very rude things about me and my boyfriend. I didn’t like him at all.”

Dorset Echo: Bon Marche staff Bon Marche staff

But on the whole, their memories are good ones, even though they were only paid 15 shillings a week and had Sundays and another half-day off.

Clarice said: “I remember working on the top floor. We closed at 5.30pm and every day at 5.20pm our boyfriends would gather outside to meet us after work and all the girls would ask me ‘Is mine here? Is mine here?’ and I’d have to look out of the window and try to spot them.”

The three friends also remember historic moments too. They said that everyone knew the end of the Second World War was drawing near and when it actually happened, everyone flocked to the store to buy red, white and blue ribbons. And when that sold out they bought up all of Bon Marche’s stock of patriotic-coloured imitation flowers.

Clarice also remembers the bitterly harsh winter of 1946-47 when even St Mary Street was covered in deep snow.

“It was so cold that we were allowed to wear our warm coats inside the store as we were serving,” she said. “And we lit oil lamps to keep warm.”

Dorset Echo: Bon Marche staff enjoying afternoon tea Bon Marche staff enjoying afternoon tea

As experts in the field of customer relations, Clarice, Margaret and Joan wish that the shopping experience was as polite and helpful today as it was then.

“These days when you go in a shop it is not unusual for the assistants to be chatting and sometimes they completely ignore you,” said Joan.

Margaret added: “When we were at Bon Marche you always had to be busy and you had to make a sale or you got in to trouble. If you were not serving someone you had to tidy the drawers behind the counter.”

We love hearing memories of popular shops in Weymouth town centre, Dorchester town centre and on Portland over the years. Send them to