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M&S Penny Bazaars
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M&S Staff Leeds c.1906

This photograph shows the staff of the Leeds Cross Arcade M&S Penny Bazaar c.1906. The manager was Mr Ratner (centre back). Fifth from right on the front row is Mrs Gertie Swidenbank (nee Nicholson) who worked in the tinware section of the M&S Penny Bazaar which opened in the Cross Arcade in 1904. Gertie is 14 in this picture, and most of the girls employed would start work at this age.

Gertie remembered tea being provided at lunchtime; the employees took turns going up to the staff room 15 minutes early to boil the kettle and prepare the tea. They provided their own food and had two cookers to warm it up.

The stores opened Monday-Friday until 8pm, and 10pm on Saturdays. The full time wage was 7s 6d a week, very good at the time. The first day that the Cross Arcade store opened takings totalled £75 by lunchtime, but Michael Marks declared that they would not close until they'd taken £100. They managed this by 4pm, and had taken £175 by closing at 8pm © M&S Company Archive