The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Department stores

Debenhams – Taunton

Nominated by: C20
Region: South West
Dates from: 1938 and 1960s
Built for: W. & A. Chapman Ltd, taken over by Debenhams in 1959
Architect: George Baines & Son, later G Baines & Syborn
Listed: Unlisted
Conservation Area: No

Debenhams, Taunton

Credit: C20 Society

The Debenhams department store building of nos. 19 to 26 North Street was built in two phases as part of a redevelopment of a number of adjoining properties to provide shop floors, showrooms and offices for Messrs W. & A. Chapman. W. & A. Chapman Ltd was established in 1864 by William Muggleton Chapman and Arthur Allen Chapman at no. 20 North Street, Taunton. It later developed into a large department store selling carpets, drapery, furniture and household goods. 

In 1938, a new elevation was provided for nos. 20-24 North Street, while the existing 19th-century nos. 25 and 26 were left unaltered. W. & A. Chapman was taken over by Debenhams in 1959 and the Taunton store was subsequently remodelled in the 1960s. This saw the interior refurbished and the building expanded to the west into the site of no. 19 North Street. This expansion involved the demolition of nos. 19, 25 and 26, as well as the rear section of the building. The 1938 Art Deco Moderne frontage of nos. 20-24 North Street was retained and includes the central bay—with a window, pilasters and entablature—and the three bays to its left. This section bears the inscription “Architects Geo. Baines & Son, Westminster, Builders W. Potter & Sons, Taunton”. 

When remodelled in the 1960s, the new sections were designed to complement the existing 1930s frontage and provide continuity in the streetscape. The main North Street elevation consists of ground floor shop fronts beneath a cantilevered concrete canopy. The two storeys above are brown brick with pale concrete/stone moulded dressings. While the front elevation is in a 1930s style, the Goodland Gardens facades are more typical of the 1960s, with extensive glazing and coloured panelling with concrete partitions.

It is believed that the same firm was responsible for both 1930s and 1960s phases. This was George Baines & Son, which became (by the late 1950s) G. Baines & Syborn. 

Closed May 2021. C20 has strongly objected to an application submitted by Ropemaker Properties to demolish the store (Somerset and West Taunton Council ref: 38/20/0406). We also offered third party support for an application to list it, which was unfortunately unsuccessful. (last update: August 2021)

Suggest an update

    Your details

    Store details

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    Search Department stores

    • Search

    • Or