Teachers' notes

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

You can also download anM&S in Leeds timeline, which lists key dates and events in the Company's history.

Curriculum Links:

KS2 History: Local history study

KS3 History: Local history study, Challenges for Britain and the wider world 1901 to the present day.

KS3 Geography: Human Geography: population and urbanisation, economic activity



Learning Objectives:


  • Knowledge of how M&S continued to expand during the 1930s and 1940s
  • Understanding of how a successful large business began in a very small way
  • Skills of researching and gathering evidence using primary sources (photographs)

Activity ideas


KS2 History:

  • Look at the photo of the cafeteria in the 1950s . How is it the same, and how is it different from caf├ęs today?  In what ways would it have seemed very modern at the time it opened?
  • Invent a menu for the 1950s M&S cafeteria - remember to use only food and drink that was available at that time!
  • Imagine you are 10 years old, and it's the middle of the Second World War - write a diary entry about your day. You could write about a bombing raid, or seeing the ruined buildings and shops. Or imagine what it was like to be evacuated and write about how you felt on your first night in your new home. These links to other My Learning resources may help you: 
    What was it like to be a World War II Evacuee?
    World War II at Lotherton Hall

KS3 History:

  • Read about the history of Briggate as a shopping centre in Leeds (using the Related Link to the Discovering Leeds website below), then discuss why certain types of properties (such as slaughterhouses, workers cottages and wool/cloth markets) gradually disappeared from the street between the 17th and 20th Centuries.
  • What other types of buildings were taken over by the government during the War and what were they used for? Ask older relatives if they know of any building that had a different use during the War.
  • What happened to museums and galleries - how was the nation's wealth and heritage kept safe during the War?
  • What different styles of architecture were popular in the 1920s and 1930s? How were they different to Victorian and Edwardian buildings of the 19th and early 20th Centuries?

KS3 Human Geography:

  • Briggate is still one of the main shopping streets in Leeds - can you name any other famous shopping streets in city centres? Why do you think out-of-town shopping centres (such as The Trafford Centre and Bluewater) become popular in the 1980s and 1990s? 
  • The 1932 advert pictured promotes five different reasons for shopping at M&S, with the most important one being '96% British goods'. How would you rank these reasons in order of importance for today's department stores?
  • The 1951 photo shows people waiting for buses on Briggate, but it is now a pedestrianised area  (see 1999 photo on link to Leodis website below). Do any of your relatives remember similar streets before they were pedestrianised? What are the good and bad points of banning traffic from shopping areas?
  • Make a list of all the advantages and disadvantages that you can think of for both out-of-town shopping centres and city centre shopping areas.

KS3 Art and Design:

  • Compare the first two photos above (M&S Briggate stores in 1934 and 1951) with the one of the Cross Arcade store in 1909. Make a list of the differences and similarities in the features and design of the buildings, then say which style of building you think each one is closest to  (the links at the bottom of the page may help).
  • Look at the 1932 advert above then design your own advert for a 21st Century department store.
Architecture - the style of a building with regard to a specific time or place
Evacuees - children sent away from cities to live in rural areas during the War, where they were safer

Pedestrianisation  - to convert a street into a shopping mall or walkway, where traffic is banned

Your can learn more about the history of M&S in Leeds  by downloading this timeline PDF.  Also see the Related Links 1 and 2 at the bottom of the page for an interactive timeline and 'Your M&S Store History'.

See also our resources focusing on M&S in Leeds and other related resources on My Learning. 

M&S Leeds Briggate Store 1934.
M&S Leeds Briggate Store, 15 March 1951
M&S Leeds Briggate Cafe Bar 1950s
1932 M&S advert