Debenhams, which is now at risk of closure, opened in Dundee High Street in March 1981 when they took over the former Draffens store.
For much of the 20th century, Draffens was a fashionable meeting place, a stylish building where the manager would dust down the banister with his white handkerchief prior to opening.
This was all during the halcyon days of Dundee’s ‘big four’ department stores – G. L. Wilson, Draffens, D. M. Brown and Smith Brothers.
They set the bar and all went from humble, hard-grafting beginnings to become lavish department stores that would have graced the most affluent areas of London.
These were the jewels in the crown of Dundee’s retailing trade for decades, at a time before the High Street chains which now dominate had arrived in the city.
In fact, it was the arrival of one of those famous chains which signalled the death knell for the old-style department stores.
When G. L. Wilson’s closed in 1972, owner Sir Garnet Wilson, who had been Dundee’s wartime Lord Provost, remarked: “The day that Marks & Spencer entered Dundee the writing was on the wall.”
The closures of big shops like Wilson’s were met with dismay in the community.
When Draffens was taken over by Debenhams, local shoppers mourned the passing of a family firm who numbered the Queen Mother among its customers.
Debenhams then spent almost two decades at the site before it became the anchor store at the heart of the Overgate’s second reincarnation in Dundee in March 2000.
With Debenhams stores now set to close across the UK, we have opened our archives to take a look at some special moments at Debenhams in Dundee over the years.
Workers had just finished removing the old name plaques from the Draffens shop frontage to complete its transformation to Debenhams in March 1981.
Bargain hunters were out in force in May 1981 for this half-price sale at the new store.
Norman Brockie and his wife Christina of Newport in Fife spent the night outside Debenhams in July 1981 with their dog Roushka to be first in the queue for the sale of a fur coat which had been reduced in price from £2,000 to just £10.
Norman and Christina look delighted with their new purchase and they celebrated outside the store with a glass of champagne.
The Debenhams store in Nethergate pictured in March 1982.
The new Debenhams building emerging from the scaffolding as work progresses on the Overgate in 1999.
Lord Provost Helen Wright cuts the ribbon at Debenhams to officially open the Overgate in 2000.
Pudsey was in the store fundraising in 2014 but took time out for a make-over by staff beauty consultants Shauna Scott, Louise Winter, Lisa McSweeney and Rachel Robley.