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Bag of memories from a much-missed Dudley store

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 24, 2014

By Gavin Jones

A rare survivor of F.W. Cook's Dudley department store. Note the reference to the famous coffee lounge

A rare survivor of F.W. Cook's Dudley department store. Note the reference to the famous coffee lounge

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F.W. COOK is a name that has been well-known to Dudley folk for two reasons.

Frederick William Cook was mayor of the town in 1906/7, but it was his shop, founded way back in the early 1800s, which eventually became a department store and outlived him by some decades, which kept the name alive.

Situated at the top of the High Street, F.W. Cook became a modern store offering everything that the larger chain stores did. Its coffee lounge became a popular hangout for the weary Dudley shopper in later years, but the whole place closed down in 1983; just a couple of years before the coming of the Merry Hill centre began to empty the town of all its biggest names.

So we must thank Gornal reader Stan Witton for sharing with us this reminder of Cook's, a carrier bag from its very last trading day. It was signed by a few members of staff, including J Cadman, R Bowater, Joan Cook and J Fones, and dated February 26, 1983.

It's also of interest for the portrayal of the shop front too, which looks as if it was a rebuild from the 1950s or '60s. Note too that it brings attention to its 'friendly coffee lounge'.

The claim that Cook's had given over 150 years of fine service by 1983 suggests that the business must have pre-dated old Fred Cook himself, no doubt being set up by his family before passing into his hands.

Do you have items from shops of old which you'd like to share with Bugle readers? Bring them in, give us a call, or send an email to gjones@blackcountrybugle.co.uk.

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