Snowden Schofield was born in Bradford in 1870. In 1901 he was working for Owen Owen in Liverpool, and making plans to set up in business on his own, possibly in Blackburn. Then he visited an old colleague, H G Shipman, who owned a menswear shop next to the entrance to the Victoria Arcade on the Upperhead Row. Shipman persuaded Schofield to take the shop on the opposite side of the arcade entrance. He agreed, and rented the shop for £50 a year.
Schofield, with three assistants, opened his shop on Saturday May 4th 1901. The first cash book shows that the takings for that day were £62. 3s 4½d; £43.10s of this was in gold. He recorded in the book that 'it was beautiful summer weather, and the shop was packed all day.' The shop was described as a 'Fancy Drapers and Milliners', and sold lace, ribbons, and trimmings of all kinds which were very fashionable at that time. The drapery was on the ground floor and the millinery upstairs. The business thrived, and in 1904 Snowden Schofield took over No.4 Victoria Arcade, and in 1906 he acquired Nos. 2 and 3.
The store was advertised widely by letters, bills posters and catalogues, but at that time drapery shops did not advertise in the press. Schofield was a pioneer in this respect, and was the first man in Leeds to place display advertisements on the front page of local newspapers. The move was successful, and in 1908 yet another shop was opened - No. 20 on the opposite side of the Arcade. This was sold in 1910, and Nos.5 and 6 bought so that the store now occupied six shops in a row. In 1911 Schofield bought Red Hall, and in 1912 converted the King's Chamber, where King Charles I had been imprisoned, into a restaurant. The oak panelling and old plasterwork were restored. The café had its own orchestra the All-star Versatiles 'a quintette of musicians with a varied repertoire.'
In 1921 Red Hall courtyard and the Headrow frontage were acquired, and a programme of rebuilding began. Two new departments for furs and ladies footwear were created. By the time of the store's Silver Jubilee in 1926 300 staff were employed and there were plans to build a new store. In 1927-28 Nos. 11, 10 and 7 Victoria Arcade were added to the store, and in 1929 the yard in King Charles Croft was bought. This meant that in 1930-31 a two storey extension could be built, nearly doubling the floor area of the store.
In 1933 the Hippodrome closed and in 1934 was bought by Schofield as a workshop and warehouse. The Cock and Bottle Inn was an obstacle to uniting the two halves of the store, but was purchased in 1938 when the owner retired. Plans
to build a five storey extension were shelved because of the outbreak of war in 1939. After the war, in 1947, Snowden Schofield acquired the whole of the Victoria Arcade, and became owner of the whole site where he had once rented a small shop for £50 a year. He died on 24th March 1949.
By the 1950s the store was overcrowded both in the sales area and in the offices and staff quarters. After the war Government restrictions prevented the building of new stores until 1957. It was decided to keep the old store functioning while building the new one, but to do this seemed too expensive and likely to disrupt the business to too great a degree. Then the Theatre Royal in Lands Lane closed, and Schofields bought the theatre, demolished it and built a new furniture store on the site. Schofield's Furniture Centre opened on 11th November 1958.
In 1957 the firm acquired Campbell's Corner at the junction of the Headrow with Lands Lane. In January 1959 the block from Lands Lane to the Cock and Bottle was developed and a new store built. The next stage was the demolition of Red Hall, and re-building on the site. Stage three, begun in January 1961, included the installation of three 'packaged' escalators, the first time this had been attempted in an occupied building in England.
The ground floor of the building was handed over for Christmas trading in October 1961. The remaining floors were completed on 30th June 1962. The architect was John F. Rusted of Messrs. Tripe and Wakeham of London. In 1967 the furniture store was extended into the warehouse in the old Hippodrome, and was linked to the main store by a bridge across King Charles Street.
In September 1984 Snowden Schofield's son Peter sold the store to Clayform Properties Ltd., and all family connections with the firm ended. Plans were submitted to develop the site, but were rejected by the Planning committee because they did not have the 'Leeds feel.' A revised scheme was granted planning permission in March 1986. This was for a 3-level mall of 51 shop units and 10 kiosks. The design is influenced by that of the old Victoria Arcade.
Schofields store closed in 1987, and Clayform bought Woolworth's store on Briggate as temporary accommodation for Schofields. Work began in September 1987. The architects of the new building were Crampin and Pring of Nottingham and the contractors Rush and Tomkins. In December 1988 Clayform sold Schofields to the House of Fraser for £4.7m, and the new owners announced that both the Briggate and the Headrow stores would remain open. In March 1990 it was decided to re-name the Briggate store Rackham's. Some of the shops in the new shopping mall opened on 17th October 1989.
|Click images to enlarge|
Map of site, 1910
Shiphams and Schofields shops, 1930
No.1 Victoria Arcade
Interior of Arcade, 1951
Schofield's Red Hall site, 1949
Campbell's Corner, 1949
Schofields Centre, 1990