13th April 2022

Celebrating 75 Years – 1940s Case Study

Perega’s journey started back in the 1940s. Founded by Reginald Thomason, the company was then known as R H Thomason and as part of our 75th anniversary celebrations, we’re taking a look back at one of the first projects undertaken – Bobby & Co.

Fredrick Bobby founded the department store group in 1887 when he bought a drapery store in Margate. Expansion through the 1900’s focused on South Coast seaside towns initially then spread throughout the Southeast and West and into the Midlands during the 1940’s. Fredrick retired in 1927 selling his shares to the Drapery Trust later known as Debenhams.

R H Thomason were structural engineers on several remodelling projects for Bobby’s in the 1940s, including Eastbourne, the fourth store they acquired in 1910. The shop was a highlight on the high street, featuring a glazed arcade tunnel, 34 dressed shop windows and a tea lounge. The store had various works completed over the next two decades to adapt to changing consumer tastes and to repair it after a bomb strike in October 1940. R H Thomason were structural engineers on a remodelling project in 1949 which changed the layout of the floors and circulation to open up the store. We carried out calculations to determine the impact of the removal of internal walls and designed strengthening to long internal spans that were created. We also provided structural designs for new apertures, created for the relocated staircases.

Another project we provided structural engineering consultancy and design on, was the large-scale redevelopment of Simes of Worcester, acquired by Bobby & Co in 1943. The new design remodelled, extended and modernised the store providing three times as much trading space. Even though we developed all the design work during the mid to late 1940’s, the works did not progress until much later, due to post-war building restrictions.