The years after the First World War were hard for many people and they got even worse when the great depression of the early 1930s came along.
In Portsmouth the Portsea Island Mutual Co-operative Society did not recover its pre-war prosperity until 1933.
That was when it opened its grocery, drapery and hairdressing stores opposite its main building in Fratton Road, Portsmouth.
But disaster soon struck on July 20, 1934, when a fire destroyed that main building in one of the biggest blazes in Portsmouth’s history.
The cause of the fire was never discovered, but one theory is that it was caused by the effect of the hot sun through the glass roof, setting alight the dividend checks laid out for counting.
The fondly-remembered half-yearly ‘divi’ payment allowed families living on the breadline to buy ‘luxury’ goods such as children’s shoes or a winter coat.