The Lost Precinct Advent Calendar – #6: Civic

Shall we follow Harry to Melbourne Street?

The Ad of Christmas Past

Another cheap, cheerful and concise ad. The cost of hiring Harry Worth for his eight seconds of jumping into an electrical retailer may have been equivalent to 23 seconds more airtime between Crossroads. Back in the 1970s, he had his own programme My Name is Harry Worth.

His star jump which he did beside shop windows was first done at Hector Powes’ tailors’ shop on St. Ann’s Square, Manchester. This was used in the opening titles of Here’s Harry and based on his writer’s childhood memories. The writer? Moston’s very own Vince Powell who cut his teeth writing some episodes of Coronation Street. Instead of his gentle comedy with Mr. Worth, he is better known for penning Love Thy Neighbour and Mind Your Language with Harry Driver.

The Shop of Christmas Past

Civic’s stores tended to be in medium sized and small town centres. Stalybridge had one on Melbourne Street, opposite NatWest and Yorkshire banks. Civic Radio and Television also diversified into vacuum cleaners and other stuff as seen in the clip.

Their growth came via mergers. In 1955, J&M Stone Ltd, with 64 shops, bought Civic Radio Services Ltd’s 17 branches in Birmingham. All 81 branches adopted the Civic name in 1960. By the time of Harry Worth’s advert, they were owned by GKN and sold to Loyds Retailers in 1973. GKN acquired one of Civic’s previous owners, Firth Cleveland group.

Later, Loyds Retailers would be sold to Ada (Associated Domestic Appliances) Halifax – a subsidiary of Philips B.V. with Civic shops disappearing by the late 1970s. In 1975, some of its shops would be sold to Currys with the Stalybridge branch closing that year. Another batch of shops was sold to Comet, the retailer we covered in our fourth Advent Calendar window.

S.V., 06 December 2015.