THESE were some of the staff who ran Elliston & Cavell, one of Oxford’s leading stores.

They worked in the elegant four-storey building in Magdalen Street now occupied by Debenhams.

The picture was taken at a staff party at Oxford Town Hall, probably in the late 1950s.

The cameraman captured this shot from his vantage point in the balcony.

The photograph comes from Jo Pocock, who is in the white dress at the top end of the middle table, sitting with her colleagues in the hardware and electrical department.

Her son, Tim, writes: “They all worked in the basement of the shop.

“My mother remembers those sitting with her on the left side of the table – from the top, Cliff Jones, my mum, then ‘Matty’ and Stan.

“At the top, on the right side of the table, is Mr Samworth, the department manager. My mother has recently been in contact with Cliff Jones, who lives in the area.

“She is fit and well at 87 and living in Kidlington.”

Mrs Pocock cannot remember why the party was held – it doesn’t look like a Christmas celebration, as no crackers or decorations are visible.

Elliston & Cavell specialised in the latest fashions and “every branch of furnishing and decoration for the home”.

Its roots can be traced back to 1823, when William Delf opened a linen and woollen drapery shop on the site.

He sold out seven years later to his assistants, Jesse Elliston, his brother-in-law, and a Mr Street.

Elliston soon had total control. In 1835, his chief clerk, John Caldecott Cavell, became a partner just before marrying Elliston’s sister, Sarah. When Elliston died in 1853, it was already an “extensive establishment”.

Cavell, who was mayor of Oxford three times, continued to develop the business until he fell to his death from the top floor in 1887, an accident attributed to hallucinations brought on by diabetes.

A business review in 1895 described the firm as “the leading silk mercers, costumiers, carpet and bedstead warehousemen in Oxford”.

Elliston & Cavell became part of the Debenhams group in the early 1950s and the time-honoured name was consigned to history in 1973 when the group decided all its shops should trade under the Debenhams’ name.

Do you recognise yourself or anyone else in the picture? And can anyone tell us what occasion they were celebrating?