door knocker from the Great Hall of Lewis's Department Store

1870-1800 in England
door knocker from the Great Ha Door knocker from the Great Hall of Lewis's Department Store

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door knocker from the Great Ha
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Musuem

Door knocker from the Great Hall of Lewis's Department Store
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Door knocker from the Great Hall of Lewis's Department Store, Manchester; mounted on wooden panel, made around 1870 - 1800.

This door knocker, in the shape of a lion’s face, was affixed to an internal door inside the long standing and well-loved Manchester city centre retailer Lewis’s department store.

Lewis’s was a significant Manchester retail destination for 130 years. It opened on Market Street in in the late 1870s and ceased trading in 2001. The building, by Manchester based architects Horton and Bridgford, is elaborate and ornate. It originally had a grand corner tower, although this was subsequently removed.

In 1915 the shop expanded into the Royal Buildings and two back streets were absorbed into the premises. The Lewis Arcade and glass archway were created at this time.

The first Lewis's was opened in 1856 in Liverpool by entrepreneur David Lewis. It started out as a men’s and boys' clothing store, mostly manufacturing its own stock and soon moving into women’s clothing, shoes, tobacco and other departments.

The Manchester store was grand in its scale and ambition. The building’s Grand Hall epitomises this. On the fifth floor inside the hall was a full-sized ballroom with sprung flooring. It was used as a ballroom for just four events a year, the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter balls. Otherwise, the Grand Hall was used to host exhibitions and events such as book signings.

It has been reported that Lewis’s was fitted with the first escalators outside of London and to have had the largest soda fountain outside of the United States. It is reported documented that the basement was intentionally flooded and decked out for Venice style gondola rides.

It is certainly clear that the annual Christmas grotto was popular with generations of local families, along with its elaborate window displays and interior decorations.

The building remains an important part of the retail life of Manchester city centre, having been occupied by the Irish fast fashion retailer Primark since 2001.


Local History
Object Number:
wood and brass
70 mm x 195 mm x 302 mm, 1.9 kg
door knocker
Gift of Janet Wood