NOBODY did Christmas quite like Busbys. The Manningham department store still holds a place in many Bradfordians’ hearts, and its festive grottos were particularly popular.

The annual festive procession, led by Mother and Father Christmas, must have been quite a sight making its way up to the store.

Here, T&A readers share their memories of the much-loved department store. Frank Healy owns up to causing mayhem in the grotto...”Back in 1956 for about six months after leaving school, I worked for Busbys as a lowly junior. As a child I’ been taken there to see Father Christmas. The grotto was a magical place in those days; it was in the service corridor running the full length of the store so it was extensive.

We have become accustomed to piped music in today’s shops but back then it was provided by disc music boxes (the discs were more than 2ft in diameter), and only at Christmas time. These were positioned around the store as well as in the grotto, and during the rest of the year were stored in the gents’ cloakroom together with the stuffed reindeer. Being 15-years-old and not long out of school, when I saw these boxes, curiosity took over as to how they worked.

The older men encouraged my curiosity and with little encouragement I managed to open one (the locks were old and a bit of wire solved the problem). I got the thing to play and left it going. A supervisor was quickly despatched to turn it off. A few weeks later, after more egging-on, I opened all the disc boxes, wound them up and started them playing. They’d play for several hours on a winding. There were around a dozen, I locked them all after I started them and made myself scarce.

One playing on its own wasn’t much of a problem - but 12 was. The sound of them all playing different tunes penetrated the store and a supervisor was soon on the scene. But they were locked. Where were the keys? They were kept in a large box, along with several hundred others. It took around two hours before they found them and calmed the cacophony. Questions were asked, I was the chief suspect but with no proof I was just advised not to do it again. They removed all the discs, just in case!”

Connie Varley: “Busbys was the place to go for my family. Dad had his haircut at the barbers every two weeks. I saw Santa there then enjoyed going with my younger sister and eventually my own daughter.”

Ronald Beale: “I saw Santa there for the first time. The bus from Keighley stopped over the road and emptied outside Busbys.”

Chris Holland: “I worked in the toy department for a few months in 1970. It was just like Are You Being Served?”

Linda Wood: “We used to go to Busbys for a fish and chip tea before the panto courtesy of Provident at Christmas.”

Alice Norton: “We were walking down the stairs there in 1954. I was carrying my one-year-old daughter. Suddenly we heard a voice shouting: ‘Stop! It was repeated more urgently so we turned round to find an assistant chasing after us saying: ‘Your baby has stolen one of our rag dolls.’ He pointed to a large display on one of the counters. Sure enough, Jane was happily clutching the evidence. She must have been Busbys’ youngest shoplifter!”