In the nineteenth century, the site was primarily occupied by terraced streets running in a north south direction between East Street and Hoglands Park. To the east of the site was a Methodist Chapel set back, but accessed from East Street.
In 1860, the Edwin Jones Department Store opened on East Street and subsequently expanded to include neighbouring buildings. In 1880, Edwin Jones purchased buildings facing Houndwell Park and built the Queen’s Buildings housing the store.
The store was purchased by the Debenhams group in 1928 and became a subsidiary, though the department store continued to be known and operated as Edwin Jones.
The buildings were completely destroyed during the blitz in 1940, which destroyed much of the historic city centre. In the immediate aftermath of the blitz, a temporary ground floor show room was constructed with north-light factory roofing over the eastern half of the site.
In 1942, a city-wide reconstruction plan was constituted that identified this part of the city for retail use. As part of this plan, the minor street, Strand, to the west of the site was transformed into the four lane Queensway; creating a new north-south axis parallel to the High Street.
In the late 1950’s, Healing and Overbury were commissioned to design a new Debenhams store on the western half of the site. The building, that still occupies the site today, was designed in a post-war modernist style and was completed in 1959.
The building was re-branded as Debenhams in 1973 and traded until its closure in summer 2020 after the chain fell into administration.