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FORTY years ago the Beatles gave their last public performance on the roof of Apple Records, the jumbo jet made its maiden flight, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man... and in March 1969, Richard Block and David Quayle opened a no-frills hardware store in Southampton - and later added a caravan in the car park as their HQ. It was the start of a DIY phenomenon that would sweep the country.

Block and Quayle became B& Q, offering a wider range and better value than traditional hardware stores. B& Q now have 323 stores, and get 156million customers a year. Over Easter week alone over six million shoppers will pay them a visit. ANGELA MACFARLANE reveals how it happened...


KNOWN to some as the decade that taste forgot, the 1970s were filled with soft leather, velvet and corduroy furnishings and shagpile carpet. Original features were ripped out or covered up. Waterbeds and hi-tech gadgets for the home were popular.


Block and Quayle take pounds 147 on their first day.

B& Q introduce Vimural - a stick-on vinyl to cover walls and surfaces.

The company sell their very first Black and Decker Workmate bench in 1973.

In 1975 they bring kitchen sales to the high street.

By 1979 B& Q have 26 stores, and an orange bucket becomes the store's all-time best seller.

Mr Block leaves to sell Channel Island tomatoes.

He later ran a hypnotherapy business and at 67 is now retired, living in a two-bed cottage in Derbyshire.


When two tribes went to war - Yuppies in stark warehouse apartments and the fluffy and floral fans in country retreats. The first kitted out their homes in black ash, primary colours and spiky furniture.

The others restored fireplaces and swathed rooms in chintzy florals. Coloured bathrooms all the rage.


David Quayle quits with pounds 4million and has a successful business career. Now 71, he lives in a 19th Century villa in Hampshire. He still takes an interest in his old firm and was at the opening of the latest store in New Malden, Surrey.

B& Q bought by F.W. Woolworth.

Firm opens first store in Scotland.

Superfresco wallpaper launched (and is still going strong 126m rolls later - see or call 0800 328 8452).

70s top sellers

1. White emulsion

2. Foam-backed carpet

3. Timber conti board

4. Sheet boarding and formica

5. Vimural (sticky vinyl)

80s top sellers

1. Textured Artex

2. Coloured bath suites

3. Beige stratus worktops

4. Flock wallpaper

5. Carpet tiles


THE age of minimalism, when homes were neutral and empty-looking. New names like Ikea, and TV makeover shows like Changing Rooms influenced our homes with a lick of white paint, neutral fabrics and a Scandinavianstyle vibe. Stripped wooden floors and natural fibre flooring became more and more popular.


A BUY-TO-SELL trend gains momentum, and there's a huge rush on magnolia paint - all the experts say it's the most neutral colour and won't offend potential buyers.

The influence of Changing Rooms gives a huge boost to sales of MDF (medium-density fibreboard). In 1997 500 million sheets are sold.

B& Q open a store in Shanghai and in 1999 they buy up the British hardware mail-order company Screwfix.

The chain sell enough ladders to stretch from London to Milan and the same weight in cement as 85 Boeing 747 jumbo jets..

90s top sellers

1. MDF

2. Throwaway tools

3. Disposable paintbrushes

4. Laminate flooring

5. Magnolia paint


EVERY style that ever stalked the land is brought back to life from past decades to create eclectic interiors. Vintage sits with hi-tech, customised antiques and bold 60s wallpaper.

We revive, customise and collect things for our homes, and with female taste as the driving force the emphasis is on interior design rather than plain and simple DIY.

Green issues are no longer a fringe obsession but part of our mainstream culture - and growing your own veg is no longer something that just your grandad does.


The 300th B& Q store opens in Yeading, West London, and the 50th giant Warehouse in York.

Over one busy weekend in May, laminate flooring sells out in half of B& Q stores.

The store's website gets a million hits in a week. As recession bites, sales of seed, chicken coops and greenhouses rocket..

00s top sellers

(as women customers become a driving force)

1. Soft furnishings

2. Curtains

3. Faux silk cushions

4. Chandeliers

5. Rugs


Matching florals, wooden curtain poles, ruffles... and avocado bathroom suites 1969's blocky print and big plants give way to 70s wallpaper from Graham & Brown (above left), launched at B&Q Best sellers... lamp and pounds 1 bucket Restful bathroom suite available now for pounds 1,140.73 - 50% off The trend started for natural colours and sleeker styles... and the best-selling Billy bookcase from Ikea & Quayle Block... Latest in New Malden The first store
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 12, 2009
Previous Article:..And the toaster turns 100 too.

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