Like a lot of department stores,Fenwick has a tradition of creating special Christmas window displays.
Despite owning other branches throughout the UK,their automata-based window display has always been reserved solely for the flagship Newcastle store. Shown below in 2013.
A tradition that began in 1971 and has continued every year since.
And the theme of that very first display was Camberwick Green.
A few pointers from both pics,directly above & below ....
1. Despite the Window sticker just referring to "Camberwick Green" the 2nd pic is Trumpton Town Square of course.
And not only are there characters from both series but they also gate-crash each other's tableaux.
With Mrs Cobbitt being notable for appearing in both.
Despite not actually appearing in any of the Camberwick Green episodes of course.
2. No Firemen. But they were probably just too synonymous with Trumpton,regardless of Mrs.Cobbitt's crossover.
3. I'm not sure who or what the little creatures are dressed as Santa -elves,pixies,goblins trolls ?
Slightly leftfield,but I suppose it was a way of injecting a christmas feel without giving Windy & Co. a seasonal makeover.
4. You can see the lines cut in the floor where the figures would have moved along.
5. PG rated ? The first pic appears to show young Paddy Murphy being decapitated by the windmill !
Clearly a good theme to kickstart the annual tradition ....
Success always breeds expectation.
So from 1972 onwards they've had the almost impossible task of making every year's display "the best yet".
Months of planning and building potentially dismissed with just a cursory glance and "not as good as last year"
Quite how they work out any direct correlation between the display and december's sales figures is anyone's guess.
Or maybe it's that even darker art of "brand awareness" driving the whole thing.
But it clearly adds value somewhere along the line or they wouldnt be doing it.
Although you can't help thinking that people were a lot easier to please back in 1971.
Simply because they had so much less wizardry to compare it with.
And .... to round things off for now .... here's a bombshell ....
I've subsequently learnt that the theme for the following year's 1972 display was .... brace yourselves .... "Chigley" !
Which is maybe no surprise given the huge success of the Camberwick / Trumpton display.
But still uniquely rarified air for a series that never emerged from the shadow of its 2 older siblings.
So the hunt is now on for some ( any ) information about that one as well.
And it would also be nice to fill in some of the blanks from the 1971 version too.
ie. some stills,video ... more information about the designer,Keith Spark etc.
So,if you can help I'd obviously love to hear from you - email on home page - Thank you.
Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley
On this page - a look at the 1971 Fenwick department store christmas window display.
Tv advert ....
Sadly,I've yet to find any footage of that 1971 display in action.
Although it would be surprising if there wasn't some local news reel in a vault somewhere.
Or maybe even some personal 8mm footage ( still comfortably pre-digital back in those days of course.)
So,as always with these things,never say never.
But the company did commission its own tv advert to promote the event,as well as all the christmas goodies on offer in-store.
Probably safe to assume it was only shown in the Tyne Tees ITV region.
And whilst the end result may look a bit underwhelming by today's standards,it certainly wasn't the cheapest ad they could have produced by any means. Because ....
1. It was voiced by John Le Mesurier at the height of his "Dad's Army" fame.
Although even he struggles to add a bit of stardust to a particularly lame script. His Wiki
2. It uses some of the original Trumptonshire models ( plus some additional interlopers ) in specially filmed segments.
And,stop motion has never been cheap,no matter how basic the approach.And,as you'd expect,this is indeed pretty basic.
Although the only really amateurish bit is the falling snow overlay,used at the start ....
The man behind the idea for such displays was the then chairman Christopher Fenwick.
A large furniture store opposite theirs was planning a big christmas re-opening after a fire,and he was looking for something to steal their thunder.
And he found it on a trip to Paris with his display manager,Bill Cass,when they saw the level of attention a retail window was getting simply because it had a moving display.
He recruited a designer called Keith Spark to put it all together,and the rest is indeed history.
In fact,Spark was to do the windows for each of the following 12 years.
And,amongst other things,later went on to collaborate with UK theme park legend John Wardley designing attractions at Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures.
Every year there's a different overall theme.
But the only recurring theme throughout the entire run has been the use of automata.
And whilst their inclusion certainly isn't unique to Fenwick,it's probably the only large scale window display in the UK where their use is absolutely guaranteed.
As are the months of planning and undisclosed amounts of money that continue to go into making it all a reality.
And here's a particularly eye-catching example from 2006 - "Gulliver" ( your browser may reduce the size )
1971 display pics
Here are 2 still photos of a couple of the windows ....