Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.

This resource uses images and documents from the M&S Archive relating to the Company's origins in Leeds at the turn of the century, and its rapid expansion during the 1930s to 1950s. 

It includes suggestions for discussion and activity ideas (see below) that can be given to students as homework or one-off activities, and a KS2 Maths Task sheet to download (please note: answers are on the second page).

Curriculum Links

  • KS2/3 Art & Design: Looking at styles from different eras
  • KS3 PSHE: Living in the Wider World: Enterprise
  • KS2 Maths: Solving simple equations
  • KS2 Design & Technology: Cooking and Nutrition

Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge of the different M&S café bar formats in the 20th Century
  • Understanding of how a large retail business updates its service to customers
  • Skills of researching and gathering evidence using primary sources (photographs)

Discussion and Activity Ideas

KS2/3 Art & Design:

  • Many artists have painted scenes of cafés (see external links below). One famous painting by an artist called Edward Hopper has similarities with images of the early M&S café bars. Can you can identify the painting, and do you recognise what is similar?

  • What do you think it is about cafés that inspires artists to paint them? 

  • Why did Edward Hopper choose to paint a café? If he was alive today what would he paint to represent the same idea? 

  • Research more café scene paintings, think about how the painting style or subject gives clues about when it was painted. 

  • Two of the pictures in this resource show signs in a particular style of font that is typical of the 1930s. Imagine you are designing a Café Bar, what font would you use for its signs and what atmosphere would you want to suggest?

  • Spot the differences between the  new Hammersmith Café bar and the  old Hammersmith Café bar (see Resources).

KS2/3 Enterprise:
  • Café Bar culture has become popular again today. Why do you think that is, and what things do we have in common with people in the 1930s?

  • If you were opening a café who would you want your customers to be and why? Think about where the café would be, what you might serve and how you would make a profit e.g. would you want to make it so comfortable that people stayed a long time or would you want a 'quick turnover'?

  • Think of the things you would want your café to be famous for and put them in order of priority. Then decide what your customers' priorities will be and see if they are the same!

KS2 Maths:
  • Imagine you can rent a café for £200 a week and can sell 50 meals a day. Your staff costs are £350 a week, and you think the costs for your supplies and running costs will come to £450 a week. You want to sell meals for approximately £5 each. How many days a week would you need to be open to cover your costs?

  • If you want to make a profit of £300 a week how much would you need to sell a meal for? This task can be downloaded as an activity sheet. (Teachers please note - answers are on the second page)

KS2 Design & Technology - Cooking and Nutrition:
  • Invent a menu for a 1950s M&S café - remember to use only food and drink that was available at that time!

Internal Links

More resources on My Learning related to this subject area include:

M&S 1930s Food Displays

M&S First Department Stores

M&S Convenience Food

See Resources section for further supporting links.