Bargain-hungry shoppers turned out in force today as Marks & Spencer opened Original Penny Bazaars in 300 stores as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations.

George MacDonald visits Marks and Spencer's Marble Arch flagship to see crowds queue for the Penny Bazaar and to speak to executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose about the group's 125th anniversary.

More than 1,000 shoppers began queuing at 5am this morning outside Marks & Spencer’s flagship Marble Arch shop to snap up bargains from the in-store Penny Bazaar, opened to celebrate the retailer’s 125th birthday.

Customers began queuing outside the retailer’s Oxford Street flagship at 5am. By 9am, when M&S executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose and model Twiggy opened the bazaar, more than 1,000 shoppers were waiting to get in.

The same scene was played out around the country and by midday M&S had served 900,000 people - three times the number that typically visit its stores on a Wednesday morning.

On average 60 of the one penny items, including cufflinks and socks, were sold every second. 25 stores sold their entire stock allocation within 30 minutes and the total rose to 143 after the first hour.

An M&S spokeswoman said the retailer’s Finsbury Pavement store in the City of London - where 800 customers queued to get in - quickly cleared all the Penny Bazaar stock. Products such as cufflinks sold out most quickly there.

By 11am M&S’s Penny Bazaar was the top trending item on social networking site Twitter, ahead of subjects such as American idol and Star Trek.

M&S was founded in 1884 by refugee Michael Marks and became the first British retailer to make profits of £1bn.