Memories of Caleys: An Unfortunate Incident, c1968.

The attached memory was written by Elaine Morris on 3rd December 2016.

Elaine volunteers at the John Lewis Heritage centre in Cookham, Berkshire and she has written this memory of an unfortunate incident that took place whilst working at Caleys.


“At the time this incident took place I was Staff Manager/ Staff Trainer at Caleys and the Store Detective Pam Keylock was allowed the use of my office for the administrative side of her job – police papers and reports etc.

This particular story began on a Saturday morning at about 10.30am when Pam called into my office to tell me she was just going up to the Partners Dining Room for her morning break. Saturdays were very busy trading days and as she sat drinking her coffee the Elizabeth Arden Beautician joined her in rather a flustered fashion explaining that she was running late. She had to be extra quick drinking her coffee because her last client was a rather fussy and demanding certain local Account Customer whose daughter was getting married that afternoon in Marlow. The customer’s name was mentioned and sitting alongside by a ‘spooky coincidence’ was the Fashion Department Manager who recognised the customer’s name.

She immediately interrupted the conversation between her two colleagues and asked if the customer, who was to be the mother of the bride, had described her outfit she was going to wear later on that day for the wedding. And oh yes the Elizabeth Arden consultant was able to give a brief outline of the colour and style.

The fashion Department Manager straight away said that a missing expensive dress and jacket from her locked ‘Gowns’ cabinet in the department had last been on the very same day that this customer had been looking for an outfit for her daughters big day and had in fact tried on the outfit which had gone missing!

Never! – surely not? – a high valued Account Customer (as they were in those days) have walked out with a designer outfit without paying…..

Following a hunch that this was the case and after further discussion it was agreed that the Store Detective and the Fashion DM would visit the said Church in Marlow for the 3pm Wedding. Sure enough the outfit was recognised and the Mother of the Bride was led away, cautioned and subsequently charged with shoplifting.

Quite an extraordinary way to have your name in the local paper the same day as your daughter’s wedding.”

Comments about this page

  • I remember this well and can still visualise the outfit. I was a young partner at the time working for Mrs Donelly in the fashion department.

    By Shirley Hatt (nee Roberts) (28/01/2021)

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