Amazing history of new Penge carpet shop

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 February 2019

Happy days as classic carpet store reopens. Photo: Anthony Upton

Happy days as classic carpet store reopens. Photo: Anthony Upton

Anthony Upton © Copyright 2019

Penge's famous Harris carpet family came full circle after essentially re-opening their original branch.

On January 26 flooring retailer Tapi Carpets celebrated a grand opening at its newly acquired High Street, Penge branch.

It is Tapi Carpets’ 114th store since the company launched in 2015.

But the latest branch has special significance for Martin Harris, Tapi’s CEO, and for his father, Lord Harris of Peckham.

This is where the Harris family’s carpet empire first started.

Lord Harris inherited the store in 1957 at the age of 15, after the death of his father who owned C & W Harris Discount Carpets.

And from there, the booming industry just kept climbing.

Tapi reacquired the Penge branch in late 2018 and during renovations, outside cladding was removed to reveal signage for the 1970s tenant, Carpet Warehouse. When this was also removed, the original C & W Harris Discount Carpets sign from the 1950s was discovered and brought back some memories.

This latest store opening, with the Harris Primary Coleraine Park steel band providing a distinctly Caribbean sound, was carried out with a pronouncement by a town crier.

There was also a long customer meet and greets with Lord Harris, who handed out signed copies of his book called Magic Carpet Ride, a tale of his life with floor coverings.

Lord Harris is a Conservative party donor and has ploughed some of his fortune into academy schools in south London via the Harris Federation and also into equestrian pursuits, backing a gold medal-winning horse at the 2012 Olympics in London.

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