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Brightwells Department Store was started in the 19th century by John Rumbelow Brightwell in Southend-on-Sea High Street as a drapery.[1] This became a department store which was incorporated in 1909 as J.R. Brightwell Ltd.[2] Its direct competitors were Keddies and J L Dixons.

John Brightwell had been an alderman of the county borough of Southend-on-Sea and twice the Mayor of Southend.[3]

The store closed in the early 1970s and was replaced by Ketts Electrical in the landmark building. Ketts Electrical closed in the 1980s after it was purchased by Rumberlows. The Store remained empty in 1980s, however a Gym opened on the 2nd floor. The Store was home to the British Heart Foundation until 2015, when both the Gym and store were vacated to make way for a flats development called the Drapery in reference to Brightwells.[4]


  1. ^ 1874 Post Office Directory of Essex
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  4. ^ "60 new flats above High Street shops - Evening Echo p.5/12/2015". Retrieved 12 September 2015.