Acquisition and the War Years

1939-1945

By Jonathan Blatchford

Becoming one of London’s finest

In 1940, the John Lewis Partnership took over John Barnes as a result of its entire assimilation of the SPS. Under the directive of the Partnership, the shop began to seriously capitalise on its absolutely prime location. Finchley Road had by the beginning of the war become one of the main routes into London from the North. It was served by three suburban railway lines. In fact one of the railway lines even passed underneath the store!

Wartime restrictions

As the Second World War broke out, John Barnes was subject to strict limitations on resources, facilities and manpower, in much the same way as the rest of the capital. Substantial preparations were made for the outbreak of war and the oncoming blitz. The front cover of the Gazette below, although from 1975, shows John Barnes Staff Trainer Mr E Clark grasping a vital piece of wartime safety equipment, a gas-mask. Masks would have been issued to all members of the fire-watching teams at the time, whose task it would have been to sit on the roof of the store and keep watch!

Photo:The gas mask recovered from one of the backroom cupboards of John Barnes

The gas mask recovered from one of the backroom cupboards of John Barnes

Capitalising on post-war climate

As the war ended, John Barnes Partners celebrated coming through unscathed. Whereas other retailers, both competitors and other branches of the Partnership, had been unfortunate victims of the German’s comprehensive bombing campaigns, John Barnes prospered, picking up the trade of those less fortunate. In the years following, it would certainly benefit from the extra custom this generated.

This page was added by Jonathan Blatchford on 14/08/2014.

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