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Edited by David McDermott and Paul P.


Great Yarmouth Local History

and Archaeological Society
Copyright © Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society

On 25th January 1888, the Great Yarmouth branch of the Norfolk and Norwich
Archaeological Society was formed. On 27th February 1953, the Society
Published by became independent and its name was changed to the Great Yarmouth and
Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society District Archaeological Society. At the Annual General Meeting on 15th May
Registered Charity No 277272 2009, it was decided to change the Society’s name to the Great Yarmouth
Local History and Archaeological Society in order to reflect members’
2013 changing interests.

The aims of the Society are: to encourage the study of history and archaeology,
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in especially in the Great Yarmouth district; and to secure the preservation and
or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any conservation of historic buildings and monuments within the town and district.
means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without
prior written permission of the publisher. Its activities include lectures in the Northgate Room, Central Library,
Tolhouse Street, Great Yarmouth, at 7.30pm, on the third Friday of each
month, January to May and September to December. The lectures are on local
and national, historical and archaeological topics.

Every endeavour has been made to trace any copyright that exists on the At least two excursions are organised each summer, including a coach trip to a
material in the book, but often the owner of the copyright is unknown. If the place of interest in East Anglia, and an evening visit to a village or a site.
society has contravened copyright, please accept our apologies and the
publisher will be happy to include a full acknowledgement in any future
The Society’s journal is a compilation of articles, written mostly by local
people on mainly local historical and archaeological topics, and is published
each autumn.

Printed The Society produces a quarterly newsletter, giving news, articles and notices
by of events, which is sent out by email or post.
RPD Litho Printers, Gorleston, Norfolk
The Society also erects blue plaques around the district to commemorate
Front cover: Designed by Paul P. Davies buildings people or events of local interest.
Rear Cover: Caister Castle painted by Philip Musgrave-Gray 1967

The Committee of the Great Yarmouth Local History

and Archaeological Society
2012 – 2013
President: Andrew Fakes
Chairman: Paul Davies Preface : Page 5
Vice Chairman and Secretary: Margaret Gooch
Treasurer: Derek Leak Philip Musgrave-Gray. A Personal Recollection : Page 6
Committee Members: Carl Boult, Ann Dunning, Alan Hunt, Peter Jones,
David McDermott, John Smail, James Steward, Michael Wadsworth Some of the National Window Display Prizes awarded to
and Patricia Wills-Jones Philip Musgrave-Gray : Page 11

Monographs Published by the Society Newspaper and Magazine Cuttings : Page 12

Monograph One: Inexpensive Backgrounds for Fashion Displays : Page 16

Excerpt from the Sailor’s Home Logbook 1861 to 1864
Improvisation in Fashion Display : Page 18
Monograph Two:
Record of the Surviving and Legible Memorial Slabs in Photographs of Window Displays, Correspondence, Flyers and
St. Nicholas’ Church, Great Yarmouth at the Commencement of the Certificates : Page 20
Restoration Work: 2nd June 1957

Monograph Three:
Little Yarmouth

Monograph Four:
Homocea: YH 573: A Diary of the
Autumn Herring Fishing Season: 1908
Monograph Five:
Photographs of Great Yarmouth taken between 1942 and 1944 The authors wish to thank Bruce Sturrock of Palmer’s Department
Store and Pauline Mayes for their help in producing this book.
Monograph Six
Plaques in and around Great Yarmouth and Gorleston

Window Display
par excellence
The work of Philip Musgrave-Gray
of Palmer’s Department Store,
Great Yarmouth
in the 1930s
Edited by David McDermott and Paul P. Davies
The seventh monograph published by the Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society

In the late 1800s, the abundant availability of big sheets of plate glass for very large windows
led to the concept of department store window displays. These displays were used to exhibit
merchandise in a more appealingly way. R. H. Macy was the first to develop the elaborate
window displays in New York City in the 1870s. Families used to gather around the
windows to gaze at the magical scenes that displayed Macy’s merchandise. One particular
display of 1915 consisted of Christmas dolls and child-sized furniture. The baby dolls were
dressed in ruffles and lace, sitting in wicker rocking chairs and carriages; the background was
a painted winter scene backdrop. As the years went on the displays became more and more

It was not long before the idea of professional window dressing caught on and other
American stores soon followed suit. Gordon Selfridge brought, what he had learned from
working at Marshall Field’s Store in Chicago, and applied it to his own store, which he
opened in London in 1909, a place where the department store concept had not yet caught on.
He understood better than anyone the power of a good and exciting display. For example,
when Louis Blériot landed his plane in Dover after the first flight over the English Channel in
July 1909, Selfridge had the plane packed and on a train by 2 a.m. and on display in his store
by 10 a.m. The next day 50,000 people came to see it. His displays helped Selfridge’s to
doubled in size by 1928.

Philip Musgrave-Gray was an exponent of modern window display techniques in the 1930’s.
His approach was revolutionary at the time and changed cluttered window displays into the
artistic ones we see today. His concept was “less is more”. With his approach he had an
unrivalled reputation in his art. He demonstrated that superb window displays could be
erected for very little expenditure. Musgrave-Gray was the winner of many prestigious
national window display competitions. His approach, undoubtedly, increased the sales in
Palmer’s Department Store in Great Yarmouth, where he worked for many years. Philip Musgrave-Gray

In 2012, David McDermott gave an illustrated lecture to the Great Yarmouth Local History
and Archaeological Society on the subject of Musgrave-Gray’s work. The pictures of the window displays amazed and entranced his audience. So much so, that
many asked for copies of the pictures. Hence this book, which is dedicated to the art and professionalism of Musgrave-Gray, which he developed in Great

This content for this book is taken from a scrap-book that Musgrave-Gray kept, with the consent and help of Miss Pauline Mayes.

Paul P. Davies 2013.


Philip Musgrave-Gray
A Personal Recollection and Life History
Pauline Mayes
Philip Musgrave-Gray was born at 4 Williamstowe, Combe Down, Monkton Combe near Bath, Somerset on the 28th March 1911. His father was a commercial
traveller selling electric light lamps. His mother was Alice Musnie Gray, formerly Musgrave. His parents were separated. The family were poor and Philip, with
his mother and sister, moved several times until they finally went to London. After leaving school, I believe, that for a very short time, he worked in an office,
before going to Dickens and Jones, who trained him for a career in window display. He had an ambition to work at Harrod’s, so in his late teens he grew a
moustache and at the interview he said that he was 27 years old. However, he failed to get the job. He did however, work at Selfridges.

While living in London Philip rowed, possibly for Selfridge’s, but I am not sure. He was very tall at six foot four inches and was the stroke. I have a very small
silver-plated cup inscribed, “ARC (letters entwined) - Dix Cup Fours – 1929 – P. Musgrave Gray”. This cup is four and a half inches tall. I also have another cup
inscribed: “Teignmouth Rowing Club – Challenge Cup – won by – R. C. Musgrave – Oct 1st 1867”. This cup is eight and a half inches high. (Pictures on page10).
I know nothing about the history of this cup. This would have been a relative of his mother's. Apparently, Musgrave is a very old and distinguished family.

I do not know when or why he moved to the East Anglia. He did work at Chamberlin’s and Bunting’s of Norwich, but refused to follow their “pile it high”
mentality. He was working for Tuttle’s of Lowestoft in 1931. In 1932 he applied to Palmer’s Department Store for a position as their display manager. He felt
that the wage was rather low, so he suggested to Percy Palmer that, if he were to enter competitions, could he keep the prize money? He succeeded in getting the
job and went on to win a record number of awards for window display.

Philip was a master of creating something out of nothing. A dead branch and wheelbarrow being all that he needed to create a window display.

Philip married in 1937 and he outlived his wife. They had no children.

In 1940, he left Palmer’s to join the Royal Air Force. He served the war years in the United Kingdom, as all his life he had suffered with episodes of a malaria type
illness and it was thought that if he went abroad his symptoms would be misinterpreted. After the war Philip returned to Palmer’s, but in 1949 he became the
licensee of the White Hart Inn at Hopton and his work at Palmer’s became more part-time. In 1952, he retired from Palmer’s to run the inn full-time.

Philip was extremely well-thought-of by the directors of Palmer’s, so much so that he had a 25% discount on purchases he made from the store, until the day that
he died.

In the mid 1970's, Philip sold his remaining cups to pay for home improvements. They were bought by Mr. Cox, the jeweller in Great Yarmouth. These were re-
engraved and sold to local clubs. There remains a smaller replica of the championship cup, presented by Daily Express. This has the date of 1937 engraved on it. I
remember being told that the replica was made, as Philip had won the full-sized cup on more than one occasion. There is a picture of Philip being presented with
the full-sized cup in 1935.

The White Hart Inn was a meeting point for car enthusiasts and it was here that the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Car Club was formed. The club badge was
designed by Philip. Cars were a passion for Philip. He owned a Jaguar XK120, which at its launch in 1948 was the world’s fastest production car.

Philip was interested in caravans and caravan history. During the war he lived for some
of the time in a caravan. In the late 1960’s, he bought an Eccles showman’s caravan,
which was built in 1919 and was in need of restoration. He modernised it, but this
affected its value. He had a sink installed, which destroyed its originality and therefore
would not have been accepted by showmen.

Philip was quoted in the Caravan Magazine in May 1969:

For many years now I have visited the Caravan Exhibition, always expecting to find
improved design, better craftsmanship and something I would be proud to own, being
made for a purpose more than price. But each year I am disgusted with what is
exhibited and with the lack of interest by the so-called sales people. I am not in the
caravan trade, but have followed trends for years and remember when the magazine,
Caravan, wrote about real caravans as homes on wheels. Today, it is mobile homes,
which are only an extension of larger, flimsy touring caravans. Recently, I saw a new
small trailer van being towed on the road during a gale. The wind blew it to pieces
while moving and it folded up like a pack of card; fruit, vegetables, underwear, toys, all
between a heap of thin aluminium panels. They make them like that today.

I have just bought another caravan to use summer and winter, after spending many
hours deciding on which model. The answer was a 50-year-old Eccles 18 feet four-
White Hart Inn at Hopton on 1932 wheeler, which has taken six months hard work to finish and restore at a cost of £1,000.
In my opinion, this is better value than I could have found at the exhibition and, in
another 50 years, the van should still be around; built to a standard, not a price. The
van has fitted mahogany-rimmed windows with leaded lights, cupboards, drawers, tables, wardrobes and
carpets. The cupboards, drawers and wardrobes are built of teak and are topped in Formica. The walls
are covered with beige leather cloth.

There is provision for mains electricity

and there is also a combustion stove and
hot and cold water. The modern kitchen
has a stainless steel sink, and a built-in
radio completes the luxury feeling

Philip lived in this caravan for several

years and sold it at auction in the mid-
1970's to Mr. Wagg, who at the time
was restoring Bircham Mill.
Philip Musgrave-Gray inside his Philip Musgrave-Gray’s Eccles Caravan
Eccles Caravan

During the mid-1970's Philip bought another showman’s caravan to restore. He had it spray
-painted in the colours of his new MG Jubilee edition car and then sold it on to a traveller.

In 1965, Caister Hall and Castle was put up for sale and it was bought by Dr. P. R. Hill,
who then built a building to house part of his car collection in the grounds. Philip was the
first curator of the museum and ran this until his death in November 1980. Caister Castle
Motor Museum is the largest privately owned car museum in the country and contains a
wide range of veteran and vintage cars.

In 1975, Philip bought an anniversary MGB GT. Seven hundred and fifty were produced of
this model to celebrate 50 years of the MG marque. At the time of purchase it was the 77 th
car that Philip had owned. Les Gould, the staff photographer for the Eastern Daily Press,
took photographs of this with two older MG's from the museum collection. The
photographs were taken in the foreground of Caister Castle.

Philip also painted in oils and a large painting of Caister Castle, painted in relief, used to
hang in the museum. It is now in private ownership.

Philip was a well-known and well-liked man, who would mix with anyone from any walk
of life. He had an artistic temperament and would stick to his beliefs. The late Graham
Sturrock of Palmer’s once remarked, “the man made us, not just in Norfolk, but nationwide,
and he was a showman”. Yes, he was and that, perhaps, helped to make him so successful.
Philip Musgrave-Gray

Philip Musgrave-Gray at Gorleston in 1934


Philip Musgrave-Gray’s anniversary MGB GT in 1975

The Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft

Car Club badge designed by
Philip Musgrave-Gray
Philip Musgrave-Gray and his Jaguar XK 120 at the White Horse Inn at Hopton

Left and right (top)

Replica cup from the
Daily Express 1937
with representations
of sheep
Nine inches tall

Evan Williams’
Daily Mail
Show and Sell

Right: Dix Cup for Fours 1929

Left: Teignmouth Rowing Club Challenge Cup

Some of the National Window Display Prizes awarded to Philip Musgrave-Gray of Palmer’s of Great Yarmouth
A Record for any one Business in the Country
1st Drene £100
2nd National Shirt Week 10 gns
1 Daily Mail £100
2nd Evan Williams £25
1st 1937 Daily Mail Buttons £250 rd
3 1933 Men’s Hats £10
1st Evan Williams £30 rd
3 Haberdashery £15
1st 1937 Evan Williams Cup and £30 cash £50 rd
3 1948 National Sewing Week £10
1st Wolsey Cup £265
Dunlopillo £10
1st 1937 Wolsey Wolsey Garments, Cup
Evan Williams £2
1st 1935 Wolsey Car and Silver Cup £250
Swan Pens £1
1st 1935 Daily Express Cup £250
1937 Bear Brand Hosiery £5
1st 1933 Dunlop Raincoats £50
1936 Daily Express £5
1st 1934 Daks Cup 15 gns
1936 Jaegar Jumpers £5
1st 1932 Paragon China 15 gns
1933 Stationery Waldorf 2 gns
1st 1933 Daily Mail Wool £50
1933 Stationery Waldorf £5
1st Aertex £10
1935 Norvic Shoes £10
1st Vantella Shirts £10
1933 Cut Glass Window Presentation Clock
1st Aps Trousers £50
1936 Courtauld’s Rayon 1 gn
1st Old England Shirts £50
1934 Swallow Raincoats Silver Cigarette Box
1st Daily Mail £50
1935 John Bull Gold Fountain Pen
2nd Daily Express £50
1936 Daily Express Silver Trophy £5
2nd 1937 Odol Tooth Taste £15
Wolsey £5
2nd 1937 Judy Fabric £50
Dunlop £5
2nd 1935 Daily Mail Wool £50
Daily Mail £1
2nd 1936 Lace Week 5 gns
Daily Mail £1
2nd 1936 Jaegar £25
Daily Mail £5
2nd Orlak Glass £5

Retail business of today points conclusively to the

advantages of modern window display over the so-called
window display of 1910. In this year of speed, 1935, Most of us who are actively engaged in display make a practice of studying
prospective purchasers have not the necessary time to the work of our contemporaries, both at home and abroad. As a result of this
study displays carefully. The window must tell its story contemplation of other people’s work, we are often able to obtain new ideas,
quickly and concisely. Today, the better displays are which are capable of being adapted to suit the requirements of our own
designed to do just this and entirely supersede the 1910 windows and merchandise. It is one thing to adapt and to try to improve upon
jumbled merchandise windows, which were more or less other people’s method, but it is an entirely different matter to copy them
additional stock-rooms. Again, the merchandise today is outright.
handled much better, changed more frequently and above
all, shown in its correct setting, thus increasing sale Although, as a display instructor, I encourage my students to apply their own
appeal. The success of a display is a form of ideas and to strive after originality, I do not discourage them from studying
craftsmanship demanding genuine artistic sense combined illustrations of other people’s work, with a view to learning something from
with manual dexterity, which must extend to wood, them, and accepting the best of them as inspiration to tackle the same
textiles, garments, glass and metal. The display man problems in different ways.
must, therefore, possess an artistic sense, which no
amount of training in execution can give. That, presumably, is why Women’s Wear News and other trade journals,
publish photographs of outstandingly good displays; to provide inspiration
Women’s Wear : 20th June 1935. and information.

What very often happens, however, is that a display man will stand in front of
another man’s work, or study a photograph of it, and then go back to his own
windows and make an exact copy of that display, because he lacks either the
The interior of the main shop has been transformed into a brains or the energy to work out things for himself. That sort of thing is not
gift hall dominated by a castle, which encloses the good enough. It is unfair to both his employers and the man from whom he
staircase leading to the first floor. Guarding the entrance filches the idea. It also sets a bad example to his assistants. I think it would be
stands a knight in shining armour. Above each counter is a good thing if all examples of plagiarism of this kind could be published, as
suspended a gaily coloured nursery rhyme, vivid it would provide a salutary lesson for the offender. But perhaps, this article
reminders of the coming joys of Christmas parties and will be read by some of the display men who have been indulging in this
games. The columns supporting the main ceiling have practice. If so, I hope they will accept this as an appeal to their better nature
been converted into trees in whose branches monkeys, and good sportsmanship. Real ability in display presupposes possession of the
squirrels and birds make merry. The castle, with its gift of creative craftsmanship and the man who is not thus gifted is better out
towers, bastions, portcullis, embrasures and cannon, make of display because he hampers its progress.
a bold and striking setting. The whole of the display has
been designed and made on the premises by Mr. Philip Musgrave-Gray : c1937.
Musgrave-Gray, the store’s display manager and his staff.

Tuttle’s of Lowestoft : early 1930s.


My early years in display taught me that the display man must

not only be a hardworking organizer, but an artist, carpenter, One of the most striking examples of the capacity of Palmer’s to move with the times is to be
painter and, perhaps a cleaner as well. found in its most effective utilisation of modern display technique for both window and
interior presentation of merchandise. Palmer’s long ago discovered that display, in order to be
As my experience developed, I started to compete in various an active means of sales promotion, must reflect modern trends. Crowded windows are
competitions. In all, I have entered for 34 contests and have unknown here. Shoppers are never confused by the jumbled collections of merchandise still
succeeded in winning either a prize or cup for every display favoured in many drapers’ windows. Both inside the shop and in the windows, the methods of
with one exception. presentation are marked by clarity and simplicity. Within the store, island groups, alcoves and
the upper portions of walls are all brought into use in the service of merchandise presentation.
One of a display man's difficulties is to secure satisfactory co-
operation from departments and managers. It is not exaggerating to say that Palmer’s windows have become famous, for they have won
considerably more awards in nationally organised display competitions than those of any
Many buyers in stores and shops do not know the first other store in the country. The display staff, under Mr. P. Musgrave Gray, has its own offices,
principles about our work. Display to-day should be a highly- store-rooms, and Masseeley (embossing) room on the lower-ground floor, beneath the arcade.
skilled type of work and not just ornamentation, which A good position, incidentally, for quick access to the windows, for this portion of the
contributes little or nothing to the selling of the goods. Without basement has its own staircase communicating with the front of the store. A further advantage
understanding you cannot have complete co-operation from the is that it is well-provided with good natural light from the pavement glazing on the forecourt.
un-informed. This accommodation for the display staff is augmented by a commodious workroom in an
adjoining building at the back of the store. This is equipped with an unglazed experimentery
P. Musgrave-Gray 1938. window, where new devices and materials are first tried out before being brought into actual
use in the windows of the arcade.
Many display materials, which are in universal use to-day, owe their popularity to the fact that
they have successfully passed the critical tests of this very progressive display department and
have proved satisfactory under the strong light of publicity, which continually plays on the
Palmer windows. “Palmers of Great Yarmouth are using it” has proved a convincing selling
Mr. P. Musgrave-Gray, the winner of the second prize in the point in favour of scores of new materials and equipment for display purposes. It is hardly
Vantella Shirts national competition makes a habit of dressing necessary to add that these windows have been accepted as inspiration by display men all over
winning windows. the country.
In the last four-and-a-half years he has won £2,035 for Inspiration is one thing, but plagiarism is another. Not once, but many times, the Palmer
Palmer’s (Great Yarmouth), Ltd., and he claims that this is a windows have been copied in every detail. But whether the displays are accepted as models
record for any one business in the Empire. in whole or part is a matter of little concern to the firm, because its methods of display are
changed so frequently. Customers can always count on finding something different in the
Wolsey, Daks, Dunlop raincoats, Old England shirts, Aps, windows of this store, not only in the way of merchandise, but in the manner of presenting it.
Vantella, Aertex and Swallow raincoats are among the brands That is why its two arcades are known in Yarmouth as happy hunting grounds for
with which he has had success. He has won several national discriminating shoppers.
competitions in addition to many local successes. Palmer’s of Great Yarmouth : Store Magazine : September 1938.

The big advance in window dressing in the trade was referred to by

Mr. P. Hurry Palmer. Years ago, he said, window displays
consisted chiefly of dummies and straight lines and were packed
full. There was a great difference today, for window dressing had In 1935, the first Summer School of Display to be held in England was held in Lowestoft.
become an art. He was very proud of the present set of windows, Among the lecturers were Philip Musgrave-Gray and experts from Sweden, New York
which were largely due to the display manager, who was a first rank and Czechoslovakia.
exponent of the art. Palmer’s kept a special staff, who did nothing
else, but study backgrounds and dress windows. In the last four The main object of the lecture course was to give fuller expression to the ever-growing
years the firm had entered 23 national window dressing conviction that art, properly applied, can be of the greatest possible assistance to industry,
competitions and had gained successes in 22, including many first and particularly to those branches of industry, which rely on effective window display for
prizes. No other firm in the country had gained so many successes the best results.
in such competitions in that period

Circa 1938.

Yarmouth Firm’s Brilliant Record

Paris Visits as Prizes to Staff

Messrs. Palmers, of Yarmouth, who, with 31 wins in 32 national window dressings

competitions in the last four years have an unequalled record; their latest awards,
totalling £300 and a £50 cup, were presented at the Regent Theatre last evening.
This represented a first prize of £250 for a Coronation coach in a crown setting,
entirely constructed of 2,600 buttons, another first prize of £30 and a cup in the
shampoo section, second prize of £15 in the toothpaste section, and a consolation
prize of £5 for a hosiery display.

The presentation was made by Miss Elizabeth Allen (film actress), who was
accompanied on the stage by the Mayor (Mr. H. T. Greenacre), Mr. P. Hurry
Palmer and Mr. P. Musgrave-Gray, who as the display manager was responsible
for the windows. The Mayor mentioned that the awards had been made in the
firm’s centenary month and within a month of the wedding of Mr. Musgrave-Gray.

Mr. Palmer announced that to mark the success it was proposed to promote a
competition among the staff with free visits to the Paris Exhibition for the two or Mr. Hurry Palmer receiving the £250 cheque.
three winners. Left to right: Mr. W. Browning (Manager of the Regent Theatre), the Mayor of
Yarmouth (Alderman H. T. Greenacre), Miss Elizabeth Allan, Mr. Palmer
Local newspaper report : 1937. and Mr. P Musgrave-Gray.

Before joining Palmer’s Department Store of Great Yarmouth as the

I have no use whatever for poor-class display. The display with a medium display manger in 1932, Philip Musgrave-Gray worked at Dicken’s and
-class appeal should be attractive in appearance as one directed solely to Jones in London (three years as a junior at 18 shillings a week).
high-class purchasers. I certainly do not believe in crowding windows Selfridge’s (two and a half years), John Barnes of Finchley Road in
with merchandise, no matter in what district the shop may be situated. I London (two years), Tuttle’s of Lowestoft and Bunting’s and
believe in planning displays to a certain extent, although too much Chamberlin’s of Norwich (one year).
planning in advance causes one to loose interest in the window. A very
rough sketch may be useful at times, but, as often as not, one builds up an
idea for a window and improves upon it as one goes along. I am a great Statistics were obtained from several stores to ascertain the
believer in improvisation and I very rarely use standard type display reason people entered them. It was found that:
fittings. In fabric windows I never use a stand of any description, but get
interesting effects with blocks, cubes and wooden cut-outs. Scenic 17% entered following recommendation
backgrounds, except for occasional use for special shows, are a thing of 20% entered following advertisements
the past. It is better to use a suggestive setting rather than make any 21% entered because of the level of service received
attempt at realism. Expensive settings are unnecessary. One cheap 42% entered as a result of the window displays.
material, which I have discovered to be extremely useful, is brown paper.

Philip Musgrave-Gray : 1935.

Few trades or professions call for such versatility amongst its members as
that demanded by display. It can be safely said that the display man wishing
to succeed, must possess, or be conversant with, the following:

1. Business abilities and knowledge of merchandise.

Mr. Musgrave-Gray is a master of the art of improvisation and has 2. Contemporary Design.
produced effective displays from materials that cost only a few pence. 3. Advertising.
One of his latest ideas is to make use of a rough-cast setting made up of 4. A psychological understanding of the public.
Plaster of Paris and distemper of any suitable colour. This he dabs onto 5. Carpentry, painting and decorating.
cardboard with a stiff brush. This makes a very pleasing setting for
clothing or outfit displays and costs practically nothing to produce. A display man should not necessarily make a life study of each of the
Another ingenious dodge that Mr. Gray employs is the construction of foregoing subjects to attain proficiency in his work; this would obviously be
cardboard cylinders for supporting glass ovals. For this he uses a stiff, but beyond possibility, but he will not be able to obtain consistently satisfactory
flexible, card of a suitable colour and fastens the two ends with wire paper results without an understanding of each of the many branches, which the
-fasteners. The join is not seen when the cylinder is in use, if it is placed profession embraces.
opposite the window. On the glass ovals, which these cylinders support,
are placed card of the exact colour as the cylinders, cut to the same size Display men have been referred to as being shockingly extravagant; an
and shape as the glass. These make very effective display units and expense which does not give relative value and are often looked upon as
groups for glove or tie displays. temperamental artists.
The Outfitter : 13th June 1936. Store Magazine : November 1938.

Inexpensive Backgrounds for Fashion Displays The tops of the nails can be concealed with putty and the front of the panel
is then distempered in any colour desired. I generally favour off-white,
I consider that one of the most important matters in the routine of display is cream, or pastel shades.
the creation of movable, quick-change backgrounds which, while being
sufficiently subdued to show up the A suitable relief for the plain surfaces of the curved panels is provided by
merchandise to advantage, also bring a cut-out designs or lettering, which can be attached to the background by
lively new interest into the window, and means of long pins, to stand slightly forward from the distempered surface
enable the display man to avoid the and thus made to throw a shadow which
tendency towards monotony which is adds to the pleasant effect of the design
apparent in many windows with fixed (figure 2). Alternatively, the design or
backgrounds. lettering can be stuck down flat with paste
or glue.
One of the most serviceable and readily
adaptable types of backgrounds that I The circular motif shown in this
have used recently is a curved panel of illustration was one which I used in our
wallboard (Lloyd Board is the variety recent centenary displays, depicting
that I am using at the present time), made costume through the century. I find
to stand without support, and thus circular cut-outs very suitable for
capable of being placed at almost any harmonising with circular blocks
angle, or in a forward position, to reduce platforms used as settings and supports on
the depth of the window. the base of the window. (A unit of this
type is seen in use in figure 5, as a
platform and in figure 6, as a foil for a
bathing wrap.)
Figure 3.
One of my latest ideas is to use
Figure 1. background panels upon which designs
have been worked in thin cardboard strip.

These panels can be made of any size desired The strips, generally half an inch wide, are cut out by a card-cutter forming
and are rendered rigid by nailing to two inch part of our Masseeley embossing outfit for show-cards. The edges of the
laths, then curved round and nailed to two strip can be gummed to the background, but the method I usually adopt is to
inch thick boards sawn out, with one side attach the strip by ordinary long pins driven in with a small hammer (figure
straight and one side curved, as shown in the 3).
sketch in figure 1. These can be cut out with a
small tenon saw, or, if the right sizes can be In order to avoid splitting the cardboard, and also to render the hold of the
obtained, portions of the tops or bottoms of pin more secure. I find it advisable to drive the pin in at a slight angle for
barrels might be used. about half the depth of the strip and then to hold it in an upright position
before hammering the remaining portion home.
Figure 2.

It is advisable to have the panel But, in case any critical reader should
supported at a slight slope when bedisposed to inquire: "Where are your
fixing the cardboard, for, if it is price tickets?" or to point out that the han-
placed flat, the long pins will be dling of the merchandise is not all that it
driven into the table or bench might be, I would point out that these dis-
beneath, and it may then prove plays were hastily arranged in model win-
difficult to detach the panel. dows, purely for photographic purposes, to
demonstrate the use of this method and to
The panel shown in this illustration, give an idea of how such simple pictorial
by the way, has a rough-cast finish, backgrounds can be embodied in the com-
which I have already described in position and balance of the display.
Women’s Wear News, but, for the
benefit of new readers, I again P. Musgrave-Gray : Women’s Wear
include a description of how this is News : 3rd June 1937. Figure 6.

Dissolve one pound of size in two

quarts of warm water, then mix with
Figure 4. three cupfuls of Plaster of Paris to
form a paste, adding distemper in
suitable proportions to produce the tone desired. The best kind of brush for
applying the mixture is the head of an old
stiff-bristled broom cut in half. This is
dipped into the mixture and then dabbed
onto the surface to be covered. It is
advisable to mix only small quantities at
a time, for it sets quickly, and, if a large
quantity is mixed, much of it will be
wasted, as it becomes too hard to use
before the job is finished. The mixture
dries with a pleasant pastel shade, and
somewhat resembles plastic paint in
appearance. Sawdust can be added to the
paste if a very rough surface is desired.

In figures 4, 5 and 6 I am showing three

displays in which panels carrying this
strip material are employed. It will be
seen that they tell a story without words.
Figure 5.

Improvisation in Fashion Display : Part One The platforms, which are suitable for showing underwear, jumpers, coats or
frocks, can be used in conjunction with figures and stands displaying other
This year I have been making extensive use of display platforms made out of garments. It is most important that the top of the garment shall be straight and
plywood. These platforms are of eccentric shape with no two sides or angels it is usually sufficient to pin it underneath at top and bottom. When displaying
equal and have the top slanted to catch the light. I cover them with a mixture frocks on platforms I usually fold the right sleeve twice, and finish with a top
of Plaster of Paris, distemper and size producing a pleasant pastel shade. 1 pleat, while the left sleeve is first tucked under the garment and brought
use screens of the same colour to provide a background for the display. carefully round to the front of the frock and pinned just below the belt.

This rough-cast coating can also be used for producing a variety of other For my spring windows (the same can be applied with equal advantage for
settings, such as circles and frames, and can be applied with equal advantage summer display) I constructed screens of semi-circular shape with a wing on
to cardboard. I find the most satisfactory brush is the head of an old stiff- either side. These side-wings or panels each contain two recesses for
bristled broom cut in half. This is dipped in the mixture, and then dabbed on displaying small articles or accessories The recesses can be lighted from the
to the surface to be covered. top, if so desired. The screens are made of one of the popular varieties of fibre
wallboard and treated with a mixture of plaster and distemper similar to that
One advantage of these irregularly shaped platforms is that they provide each used for the platforms. For the base of the window I use a coarse fabric of
individual garment with a background of its own, while at the same time give suitable shade to blend with the colour of the platforms and backgrounds.
a distinctive touch to the window and enable an element of design to be
brought into the display. P. Musgrave-Gray : Women’s Wear News : 7th May 1936.

Left: Sloping platforms used in conjunction

with figures.
The floral branch relieves the plainness of the
background and imports a seasonal

One of Musgrave-Gray’s staff

applying a rough cast mixture to
An eccentrically shaped platform for cardboard strips.
gown display.

Improvisation in Fashion Display : Part Two

I am dealing now with the production of display supports from cardboard. The
pliable variety I employ for this purpose is obtainable in various colours and I
find it extremely effective when used in conjunction with ovals of clear glass. By
making cylinders of the card with the aid of paper fasteners and paper clips and,
then cutting out ovals in the same material to cover the glass ovals, some very
pleasant units can be built up for the display of gloves, hosiery and so on.

I have produced in this way a great many different groups at the cost of a few
pence. No matter how small the display manager’s appropriation may be, there
are always a few spare glass ovals and small
display stands at his disposal and, if he
keeps a stock of this cardboard in a range of,
say, six different colours, he need never be
stumped for a new method of presentation.

The display of gauntlet gloves shown in

figure 1 involved an expenditure of only
two-pence, which is the approximate value
of the cardboard used, the three glass ovals
Figure 1. and the single stand being, of course,
Cylinders and ovals made of already available from my stock of display
coloured card. fittings.

In displaying gloves I always make a point of showing the thumbs and backs of
the gloves, for the best portions of the skins are used for these parts. I find it a
good plan, too, to put a small piece of cardboard in the palm of the glove to keep
out the creases. Figure 2.

The colour of the card used for this display was salmon pink, which made a happy
blend with the brown gloves. I have also shown a card cylinder and a card-covered glass oval in use for supporting
accessories in the lingerie display shown in figure 2. The five different garments are shown in a group against a black
panel. Ordinary T stands are used for all of them; the tall one employed for the nightdress having a blocking board
attached to it. The dark panel used for this display consists merely of a piece of plywood covered with paper. Panels
that contribute a distinctive effect to the display can be produced in the same way by covering the board with paper of Figure 3.
a suitable colour and then cutting out strips or designs in thin card and applying to the paper in distinctive patterns. Card cylinders and card covered glass
Three examples are shown in figure 3. ovals grouped for glass display and
representations of coloured screens.
P. Musgrave-Gray: Women’s Wear News : 21st May 1936.


Window Displays

presented by

Philip Musgrave-Gray

at Palmer’s Department Store


Won First Prize (£50) in a National Window Display Competition.

Artex : First Prize (£10).


Dunlop Raincoats : 1938.


Vantella Shirts : A Good Plan is to change your Shirt Frequently : Won the Second Prize of £10 (only one point behind the winner).
Using a drawing board, a T-square and a set square, keeping the shirt in the public eye.

Daks in Action : Prize Window.


Rhapsody in Blue.

National Sewing Week 18th-25th February : The First Sign of Spring.


Won Third Prize (£15) in the National Haberdashery Competition. There were several hundred entries.
The large elephant, sprayed grey, is used to showcase small articles in an artistic and neat fashion. The squares are edged with white tape.
The elephant stands on a red base. The background is painted cream.

Sew Save and be Smart.


Daily Mail Show and Sell Competition : Tootal Ties.


Won First Prize : Group B (Things to Wear) in the Daily Express National Competition 1935.
Prize: £250, a silver cup of value £50 and a 16 horse-power Morris Oxford de-luxe car (value £265).
The display consists of a clock face made up of silk stockings. The slogan “Around the Clock with Wolsey Deylong” increased sales.
Over 40,000 retailers throughout the British Isles took part in the competition.

Newspaper Cutting : 1935.

Championship Cup.

A £250 cheque presented by the Mayor, Mrs. A. M.

Perrett to representatives of Messrs. Palmer’s, Great
Yarmouth, the first prize winners in the Daily Express
National Window Dressing Competition. On the left is
Mr. Gray, who dressed the winning window. Messrs.
Handley Ltd., of Southsea, Hampshire have won the
second prize in Class C of the Daily Express Shop
Window Display Competition. The third prize in Group
B has been won by Messrs. A. E. Oughton and Sons,
Northleigh, London Road, Portsmouth.

The presentation of the cheques for £100 and £50 will

be made at the Regent Cinema, Portsmouth, tonight at
8.30 by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Alderman W. J.

Judy Fabric : Judy takes a lead in a Summer Production.

Won the Second Prize (£50) in the National Window Display Competition 1938.
The display consists of Judy Fabric by the yard. Judy, the firm’s trademark, stands in the middle of columns of fabric receiving a bouquet and curtsying.
The background is black. The overall effect is a stage with a proscenium arch draped in fabric.
This was Musgrave-Gray’s 35th entry in the last four years in window display competitions. He had won a prize in 34 of them totalling £1,345.

Daily Mail Show and Sell


First Prize : £100.

First Prize : Drene : £100.


Dunlopillo 1938.

Daily Mail
Show and Sell

Bear Brand.

Prize Winner.

100 years under six reigns : Palmer’s centenary anniversary.


A display of silks in red and several shades of blue. The background is carried out in relief. 1933.

Judy Fabric : A Royal Standard : Second Prize of £50.

The judges stated: The simplicity and dignity of the whole scheme tying up with topical events and the charming attitude of the child
and the appreciation of the fabric was inspirational.

Spring Suits : c1937.

Moulded plastic work showing the elegance of the display. Superb Baroque edging lends distinction to the smart ensemble.

Spend More : Employ More.


100 years of Palmer’s.


The Daily Express National Shop Window Competition : Jaeger : Second Prize.


Daily Express Competition.

Prize Window Display.


Distinction and Taste.

A method of displaying stationary. The large central circular display facilitates the small-ware merchandise. The balance and layout is of a high order.

Your Move. Advertising the Daily Mail £1,000 Knitting, Needlework , Rug Making Contest : Get your materials.

Daily Mail Competition.

Show and Sell.

Dunlop Raincoats.

Classic Head Lines : Evan Williams : First Prize Winner : Silver Cup and £30.
Evan Williams’ shampoos were daily winning favour among modern women. The shampoos brought a newfound lustre to the hair restoring its
youthful brilliance and charm. Four-pence a packet.

Wolsey Cup : First Prize 1937.

The colour scheme is in scarlet, black and cream. The central cut-out figure of a guardsman presenting arms was topical for the Coronation celebrations.
The display is built up on three circular platforms of plywood (one scarlet and two cream) and two cardboard rolls suspended by fine thread, which is practically
invisible. These are covered with cream curtain net. The show-card was done with an embossing machine. The rolls support a row of six stockings. On each of
the two cream platforms are a hosiery leg, with the stockings pleated at the top, to give definite height and to prevent the stocking merging into the cream
background. Two fans of hosiery are arranged in conjunction with the legs and another fan flows out from the rim of the scarlet platform. The display includes
four price ranges. The uniformity of the price tickets and the circular shape is in keeping with the platforms.
With this entry, Philip Musgrave-Gary had won the Wolsey cup for second time in succession.
To mark this great feat the organisers presented him with a replica cup for him to keep.

Odol Toothpaste : Second Prize Winner.


Paragon China.

Prize Winner.

Daily Mail : Sew and Sell Competition : Button Window : Prize Winner : £250.
The Coronation coach was created using 2,600 buttons. Over 11,000 retailers entered the competition.

Daily Mail : Weave and Win Competition : First Prize Winner.


Daily Mail : Show and Sell Contest : A classical theme.


Prize Winner .

Daily Express Competition. : Evan Williams : Third Prize.


Spring 1933.

Spring 1933.

Norvic. Daily Express Competition.

Good use of inverted triangular blocks placed at a slight angle. The geometrical arrangement brings the 19 pairs of shoes into prominence without resort
to freakishness. On the base there is a curved line, which is used to bring the shoe polish into the scheme in such a manner that, while
being relatively inconspicuous, the six tins placed at an angle edgeways do not escape attention. The tins are not just dragged into the display as
an afterthought, but are a definite part of the display.
The globe at the back with its slogan and reproduction of foot prints is an effective method of linking up the brand name with the shoes displayed.

Camber Curl : Prize Winner 1933.

Four cubicles are let into the background. These recesses are illuminated independently by lamps made to flash on and off at intervals, thus bringing in
an element of life into the window and simultaneously concentrating attention on the articles for sale. There is a pleasing contrast in light and shade.
The theatrical effect is not achieved at the expense of the merchandise.


For June.

National Sewing means National Saving.


Beauty Links with Palmolive soap.


Dunlop Raincoats.

Your Country needs your Waste Paper : 1940.

The waste paper and rags are shown on scales balanced by money bags. A silver crest appears on the backgrounds. A “Go To It” banner lies on the floor.

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