Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.

This resource is part of 'Heart of the High Street', a series that focuses on selected M&S high street stores across the UK, the aim of which is to provide local history resources in the shape of case study histories.
The images in the following pages show the development of the Exeter M&S store through time (you can download all the images in a PDF document from the Resources section).
Also included in this resource are highlights of archival evidence from the store’s own records, giving you snapshots of the life of the store (download Store History from 'Resources').

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of the history of a particular high street store
  • Understanding of how local M&S stores have changed over time and which characteristics have remained the same
  • Skills to use primary sources to gain an understanding of life in the past

Curriculum Links

History : Changes within living memory and significant historical events, people and places in their own locality
Maths: Addition, subtraction and working with money, sequence events in chronological order
Geography - studying the geography of their school and its surroundings
History : A local history study
Maths: Practical application of maths – money, percentages and fractions
Geography: Observe, measure and record human features of landscape in the local area and changes in locations over time
History: A local history study, challenges for Britain 1901 to present day and social, cultural and technological change in post-war British society
Maths: Interpreting and solving problems, statistics, fractions, percentages
Geography: Analysis and conclusions from geographical data

Discussion Ideas

KS1 – History and Maths 
  • Take a look at the Exeter store history (see also Downloads link below).   Does it sound like a fun place to work, and why?
  • When the store started out as a Penny Bazaar, a lot of things they sold cost 1p. How many of those things could you buy if you had a pound?
  • Where are the nearest shops to your school? What are they? 
  • Compare the 1912 picture with the picture of the Exeter store in the 1980s. How is it different?
KS2 History, Geography and Maths
  • M&S started out in Exeter in one building, but the newest store takes up numbers 211-217 of High Street, which is four buildings. Why would they need to move to a bigger store? How many more times bigger is the new store than the old one?
  • Read the store history. When the man stole the marbles from the store in 1911, they cost 1p. How much would he need to pay back today? Is it more than the sixpence he gave the shop assistant?
  • Have a look at the photograph of the interior of the store in 1951. There are skirts for sale for 35 shillings. How much would two skirts cost?

You might want to use the National Archives currency convertor to see what old M&S prices are worth in today's money - see Supporting Links in Resources.

KS3 History, Geography and Maths
  • Does your family shop at M&S? If so, why do you shop there and what do you buy? If you don’t shop there, who do you think does?
  • In 1981 the store moved to 211-217 High Street. If it is only odd numbers on that side of the street, how many buildings does the store occupy? 
  • When the new store was completed in 1981, Roman finds were put on display in the store. Why do you think M&S thought this was an important thing to do? How does it link in to the type of business they are?
  • Have a look at the photograph of the interior of the store in 1951. There are skirts for sale for 35 shillings. How much would two skirts cost? How many pounds and shillings would you have spent if there are 20 shillings in a pound?