About the Project

This project was funded by the Heritage Lottery and run by Signal Film & Media during 2011-13.


This project explores a part of the town’s history that has not been looked at before. The Cooke’s building is important to the community in Barrow.; it is one of few old buildings of scale still standing, and represents a part of the social fabric of the town and its history, having played a significant role in the lives of numerous generations, whether it was as a furniture store, nightclub or pool hall.

The project takes as its jumping off point the building’s time as a department store from 1915-1959. We will be collecting oral and physical histories, jogging the memories of those who worked there and those who shopped there and uncovering those memories that are now only stored in archives.

‘H. Cooke and Son’s’ had a furniture department, a toy department, a carpentry workshop, a haberdashery and, unusually, housed a pool hall simultaneously on a secret floor that could not be accessed by the store’s lift. It catered to the middle and upper class townspeople of Barrow and existed through both World Wars. After closing, the building’s basement became a nightclub until becoming dormant from the mid 1990’s.

Over the coming months our team of volunteers will be unearthing the building’s past and sharing their findings here as they emerge, and workshops will be held to engage young people, who have only experienced the building as derelict, with the memories of older generations by exploring a common experience, retail, through sound recorded and filmed interviews and documentary footage.



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