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Royal occasions

Royal Occasions

There’s been long tradition of celebrations of royal occasions by Sainsbury’s. Queen Victoria’s Jubilees in 1887 and 1897 and Edward VII’s Coronation in 1901 would have been commemorated in Sainsbury’s stores, but the first photograph in the Archive to show a store decorated for a Coronation is that of Forest Hill and Guildford, which celebrated George V’s Coronation in June 1911 in style.

For George V’s and Queen Mary’s Jubilee in 1935, Sainsbury’s stores were again decorated and a special price list was issued: ‘Meet the Pieman’, for ready-cooked provisions, just right for cold luncheons and picnics for the celebrations on 6 May 1935.

June 1953 saw the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and once more Sainsbury’s stores celebrated. This time Leonard Beaumont, the company’s design consultant, designed the elegant red, white and blue banners that were erected outside of all Sainsbury’s stores.

Over the weekend of 29-30 August that year a special Coronation Fête was held at Sainsbury’s sports ground in Dulwich, including many sporting events as well as performances by the Stamford Players, Sainsbury’s Staff Association’s own Amateur Dramatic Society.

What was trading like for Sainsbury’s around that time?

Sainsbury’s opened its first self-service at 9-11 London Road, Croydon in 1950. The introduction of self-service stores provided an opportunity for Sainsbury’s to expand and modernise its range of packaged products – now able to offer huge choice and convenience to customers who had been used to food rationing and shortages, as well as long queues in store. 

The new self-service stores featured 'produce' departments for the first time. Tomatoes and cucumbers were already sold alongside Sainsbury’s cooked meats and cheeses, but the new Lewisham branch, opened in 1955, also stocked apples, citrus fruits, grapes, bananas and potatoes.

In 1952/1953 Sainsbury’s opened four new or refurbished stores in Eastbourne, Debden, Grange Hill and Chalton Street.

Rationing was still in place at the time of the Queen’s coronation, in effect until 1954 and impacting goods such as butter, sugar, bacon and meat. The Kitchen counsel feature from the staff magazine, 'Journal' provided recipes for coping with the meat shortages and discussed the merits of new heating installations to economise on fuel consumption.

This price list from May 1953 offers a great insight into what was on offer at the time (both own brand and other manufacturers).

In 1977 Sainsbury’s celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee with special staff events and a number of souvenirs for sale in the branches. In 1977 Sainsbury’s had 220 stores of which 18 were freezer centres.

Many mambers of the Royal Family have made other official visits to Sainsbury’s stores. These have included Princess Margaret’s visit to Balham in 1969  in the company’s centenary year. She was also present at the new Bath Green Park Station store in 1982.

The Duke of Edinburgh came to visit West Ealing store in 1984 and The Queen Mother, famously came to the Cromwell road store in 1985.