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Pifl ’81 Day 7: Norbury and Sons Department Store

Saturday, January 7th, 2023

Norbury and Sons department store opened its first branch in Auk over 150 years ago. The Pifl branch opened not long after the arrival of the railway on the Harbour Road. The tallest building on the harbour it rises six stories above the waterfront. There are entrances on the ground floor on Harbour Road facing the band stand and on the fifth floor at the top of the cliff facing up hill towards the Town Hall. A spur off Cliff Road into an underground loading dock allows deliveries by road to the second floor store rooms. The building bridges over the Cliff Road at the third floor.

Navvies who dug the railway tunnels to bring the railway to Pifl were employed to expand a medieval stone quarry and excavate rooms into the cliff face behind the building at ground, first, second and third floor levels. These spaces are mostly used as store rooms but the ground floor food hall is cut into the cliff and provides a cool respite from the heat on hot summer days.

Largely built from ironstone excavated from the quarry some structural cast iron elements were used. The façade is faced in ironstone and incorporates Gothic elements which caused some controversy when it was built. During heavy rain the store’s Gargoyles shoot jets of water onto the Harbour Road.

Goods hoists were fitted to allow the movement of stock between floors and later replaced by lifts. At six stories tall the store originally had a café on the third floor so customers could pause while ascending or descending to catch their breath. The addition of electric lifts in the early 20th century allowed the café to relocate to the fifth floor.

Small compared to the main store in Auk the Pifl branch still provides an excellent selection of goods.

Floor Goods
Ground Food Hall and Lady’s Clothing
First Perfumery, Children’s Clothing and Toys
Second Furniture, Haberdashery, Materials, Bedding and Soft furnishings
Third Gentlemen’s Clothing including Suits, Shirts, Socks, Ties, Hats, Underwear and Shoes
Fourth Electrical items, Kitchenware, Stationary and Leather Goods
Fifth Restaurants, Teas, Barbers, Hairdressers and Wigs
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