Whilst researching the time when The Exchange, Blackburn was The Majestic Cinema, our archivists stumbled across an entry in a 1932 edition of a periodical called The Era. This was a specialist publication for the entertainment industry. According to the report, The Blackburn Exchange was bought by the founder of the UK’s biggest mail order company, Great Universal Stores (GUS). This company went on to acquire Argos and later merged with Littlewoods, acquiring DIY chain Homebase and financial information group, Experian. 

According to British Newspaper Archives: The Majestic Cinema, Blackburn, was sold by auction on Friday last for £25,000 almost sixteen times its rateable value. George Rose of Southport, Proprietor of the Riviera Cinema, Cheetham, and principal of the Great Universal Stores, Ardwick, was the purchaser. The purchase price, incidentally, includes the cafe and adjacent shop property. 

Great Universal Stores was founded in 1900 by Abraham, George and Jack Rose.  

The sale took place on Friday 27th May by auction at The Thatched House Hotel, Newmarket Place in Manchester and it was reported that Mr Rose, who owned a number of cinemas in Manchester, intended to renovate the Majestic. 

Volunteer archivist, Harriet Roberts is now looking for a photo of George Rose who bought the building as we begin to piece together the social history of The Exchange.  

Harriet said: ‘Big magic dream books with weekly payment options … didn’t everyone love these big glossy catalogues? Whilst writing Christmas letters to Santa, I always found it helpful to add the catalogue page number and item reference!’’ 

The cover of a Great Universal Stores Autumn/Winter catalogue of 1967 is published with kind permission of https://www.vintagecatalogues.com Have a look at their website where you can purchase downloads of digital PDF copies of catalogues from all over the world. 

More information here: https://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/69/The-Great-Universal-Stores-plc.html