Bainbridges: 1939-1945

A Bainbridges wartime advertisement from 1941
The fire-watchers at Bainbridges, 1939-1945

Property requisitioned

The war years were an extremely difficult time for the Bainbridge business. When war was originally declared, part of the shop was requisitioned for the war effort. The carpet showroom became a Ministry warehouse for the storage of emergency food supplies.

Difficult wartime conditions

Like stores around the country, Bainbridge lost staff to compulsory active service, and those who remained were subject to strict rationing and considerable shortages of resources. Despite these difficulties, the store made the best of a bad situation, by stocking many wartime essentials, such as gas masks.

An air-raid shelter, capable of safeguarding over 2000 customers and staff, was built. Observation turrets on the roof provided air-raid wardens with their look-out posts and shop assistants were required to take turn on fire-watching rotas

Change required

Upon returning from the war, Mr George VM Bainbridge, great-grandson of Emerson Muschamp, became a Managing Director. He knew that things needed to change in the post-war years, in order to guarantee continued economic security.

The Partnership enters Newcastle

Although these were tumultuous years for the city of Newcastle, retailers and the country in general, the John Lewis Partnership chose the war years to extend into Newcastle. In 1943, the Partnership acquired the Silk Shop Newcastle, along with a branch in Edinburgh. This initial foray into the North East would lay the foundations of Partnership interest in Bainbridge.

Comments about this page

  • Pleased I have found this page. I joined the hairdressing department in Bainbridge as an apprentice in January 1971. Very interesting to read the history of the Partnership.

    By Heather Crawford (28/06/2023)

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