James Cox Department Store Huntingdon Est. 1893

shop front 1893 new
shop front 1914
Our History
James Cox has been trading on the High Street in Huntingdon since 1893.

Opening in the reign of Queen Victoria and four generations of the Cox family later, the business has evolved to offer a wide selection of quality products.

James William Cox at the age of 23 took the entrepreneurial step of leasing No.94 High Street in 1893, having spent the previous 7 years learning to become a qualified tailor at Joshua Taylors, Cambridge.

In 1899 the shop was leased to Huntly and Orlando Tobacconists and the business rented No. 95, James, his wife Bertha, and growing family lived above the shop.

In the early decades clothing essential for warmth and protection was supplied to customers working on farms and in the factories and living in colder houses than today.

In 1918 Cyril Cox joined his father in the business after the death of his older brother, William, in the first world war. He was to spend the next 60 years connected with the business.

1930's - 1960's
The shop expanded into no. 94 and 95 during the 1930s and David Cox was born to Cyril and Gwendoline, making three generations living above the shop and in time all working in the shop. The shop at that time was open from 8am to 8pm.

During the second world war, the shop served all the local military bases, including the American base at Alconbury, offering alterations to uniforms and with medals and badges in stock. This was a very busy time.

In 1948, after 55 years of growing a successful business James Cox passed away.
The business was now a partnership between Cyril and Gwendoline.

In 1952 David Cox joined the business as a junior, cleaning the shop, cleaning windows and making deliveries by bicycle. At this time the shop secured an order for hundreds of overalls for the workers at Chivers Jam factory in George Street, David was responsible for the delivery. Learning the trade for a wage £1.50 a week. The shop was heated with a few paraffin lamps, it could be a very cold environment. Sold garments were put in brown paper bags and larger items wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string, any smaller items wrapped in tissue paper saved from deliveries which came by rail not road.

In 1953 for the 60th jubilee sale a special offer of detachable lined raincoats were sold for £9 each, about a week’s wages at that time. There was a queue through the shop and into the High street for hours.

During this time staff were entitled to two weeks holiday a year and half a day off during the week.

In 1961 Gwendoline died at the young age of 54 years and a new partnership between Cyril and his son David followed.

Cyril continued to work in the shop for the rest of his life and after 62 years in the business passed away in 1980.

In 1963 David and Pauline were married.

During the 1960s the shop was extended, walls were cut through, increasing the sales area by 50% and a new shop front incorporating the doorway of no. 94 into the windows which were now set back from the pavement.

dad and grandpa shop picture
centenary with the former Prime Minister 1993
1970's - 2000's
David and Pauline became business partners, with the shop now open six full days a week. A new boys clothing dept. opened alongside the already well stocked school uniform on offer. Most days of the week it was normal for David to see five different company reps with their merchandise and on a 'bad' day they would be waiting to come in from the High St.

In 1982 a new shop front was built, including the new windows of 96, as it is today.

In 1984 Graeme Cox joined the business after training at Joshua Taylors department store in Cambridge, just as his Great Grandfather had previously.

A successful ladies department was opened and run by Pauline and with the additions of Men’s and boy’s Suit Hire the shop became the complete one stop clothing shop in Huntingdon.

In the late 1980’s Sarah and Andrew Cox joined the business and in 1989 a second shop was opened in Ely. The Ely shop is now a completely separate business.

In 1993 James Cox celebrated its centenary and Prime Minister John Major visited on a special day.

After running a successful ladies department Pauline passed away in 2002. Sarah continued to manage the Ladies department for the next eight years

Over the years the shop has had several refits to maintain a modern feel, and in 2010 a new Gift and Home department was opened.

David Cox continued to work and be involved in the shop into old age until he passed away in 2019, it was 67 years after joining his father in the business.

Graeme Cox continues to run the business, the fourth generation of the family.
Over the years the business has been fortunate to have many loyal hardworking staff, with several staying for many years.

Harold Peacock, John Giller, Daniel Duncanson–Hunter and Jenny Long to name just a few.