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Jacksons (department store)

Jacksons was an English department store chain. It was founded by Edward Jackson in September 1875. Its flagship branch was located in central Reading, Berkshire, occupying a prominent site, Jacksons Corner, on Kings Road, just south of the Market Place. It expanded and at its peak operated from seven locations. It closed its remaining original store in Reading in December 2013. Throughout its history, the company was owned by its founding family.

E. Jackson & Sons Limited
Industry Retail
Genre Department store
Founded 17 September 1875
Founder Edward Jackson
Defunct 24 December 2013
Headquarters Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Number of locations
Key people
Brian Carter (Managing Director)
Owner Jackson family



Jacksons of Reading in 2013
Jacksons of Reading, the last window display commemorating 1875-2013

On 17 September 1875, Edward Jackson founded the gentlemen’s outfitters shop in Kings Road, Reading. The business was incorporated as E. Jackson & Sons Ltd on 23 December 1919. The business expanded into a department store occupying the whole of the corner on the corner of Kings Road and High Street, just south of Market Place, selling womenswear, lingerie, shoes, knitting supplies, craft supplies, textiles, and it also became one of Reading’s principal suppliers of schoolwear.

The company later expanded, and opened stores in Caversham, Goring-on-Thames, Bracknell, Camberley, Henley and Oxford; although these had all closed by 1994. This left just its original store in Reading open, which was then branded Jacksons of Reading.[1]

The founder’s great-grandson Brian Carter started working for the firm in the 1960s, rising to become managing director, a position he retained until the business closed on 24 December 2013.[2]

Department store locationsEdit

There were also further branches in Reading at Duke Street Corner (Jacksons hardware department, closed in 1928) No 215 London Road (closed), No 8 High Street (Boot and shoe Department, closed) and No 21-23 Oxford Street (closed). In c.1901 both Jacksons stores on Kings Road and Duke Street were known as "Jacksons Corners".

Jacksons of ReadingEdit

Jacksons’ flagship branch was located in Reading, Berkshire.

Pneumatic tube networkEdit

The store operated a network of pneumatic tubes made by Lamson Engineering,[3] which transported cash and documents around the building. Installed in the 1940s, it was the last such system still functioning anywhere.[4] A customer’s cash and a ticket stating the items purchased would be placed in a capsule by the sales assistant; the capsule would be delivered via the pneumatic network to the cash office; the receipt and change would be returned to the customer in another capsule. According to Carter, by centralising the cash collection, the system helped avoid thefts from the various small areas of the store, which would otherwise each have needed a cash register.[5] At the closing auction, the system was purchased for £900 (+ VAT and commission) by the man who had been maintaining it for the past 20 years.[6]

Part of the system is now in the care of Thomas Macey, archivist of the store, who now owns two of the cash stations and a part of the cash desk. This will be restored to working order.


As well as the building itself, the sign "Jacksons Corner" also became a local landmark. When the closure was announced there was concern over whether the lettering would be preserved.[7]


In October 2012 staff were informed that the store would close the following year.[8] Brian Carter cited building maintenance costs and the nearby Oracle shopping centre as primary reasons for the closure. It closed on 24 December 2013 after 138 years of business, with the loss of 60 jobs. The vast majority of the shop fittings were disposed of in a very well attended auction inside the shop itself on 4 January 2014.[9] The auction raised £75,000.[6]

The company archives which consists of over 200 items including old cash receipts, catalogues, photos and adverts are in the care of Thomas Macey. Many of the items date back to 1875 including Edward Jacksons cash book with the first day takings recorded and a receipt dated 1877 from the first shop at No 6, High Street, Reading.

The school uniforms department, which had become a significant part of the business, will be continued by Stevensons at 11-12 Market Place, Reading. Stevensons is an independent family-owned school uniform and sportswear business, also long established (c. 1925) and has taken over the supply of 28 school’s uniform in the surrounding towns such as Reading Girls and Reading Boys Schools, Sherfield School, Hook; Crosfields School, Reading; Maiden Erlegh, Reading, Ranelagh School, Bracknell.[10]

The Economist newspaper marked Jacksons’ passing by suggesting "you can be too authentic".[11]

In popular cultureEdit

Jacksons’ archivist Thomas Macey published a book on the history of the store in 2009, Jacksons: E. Jackson & Sons Ltd.[12]

Shortly before the store closed a theatre play, written by Benedict Sandiford and directed by Cassie Friend, was organized by South Street arts centre celebrating the store. Performances took place in November and December 2013, mainly in the Jacksons store itself.[13] Part of the performance has been uploaded to YouTube.

In the weeks before it closed, Lea Winchcombe filmed material for a series of short documentaries on Jacksons.[14]

Reading Museum put on a "Jacksons Closing Down Display" from November 2013, scheduled to end April 2014.[15]

The store’s window displays inspired a Facebook group, The Windows of My Soul. At the dispersal auction "Cruella", the child mannequin the group had helped to make famous, sold for £966 to a round of applause.

The interior of Jacksons was used for an episode of the television series Endeavor called ‘Sway’, first broadcast in April 2014. The school uniform department was turned into a ladies wear department. The Lamson cash system was also used in the filming.


External linksEdit