The regeneration of Bristol and the implications for the Partnership

The frontage of John Lewis Bristol in 1989
The frontage of John Lewis Bristol in 1989
An artist's impression of a new tram system for Bristol city centre. Such big plans for an already congested centre eventually encouraged the Partnership to look for a site for their department store outside of Bristol
An artist's impression of a new tram system for Bristol city centre. Such big plans for an already congested centre eventually encouraged the Partnership to look for a site for their department store outside of Bristol

New proposals for Bristol growth

From its very opening, John Lewis Bristol did magnificently well. Bristol thrived and the branch wallowed in the surrounding affluence. By 1989, there were plans afoot to develop Bristol further. A proposal for a regional shopping centre at Cribbs Causeway was declined, but would resurface with a vengeance in later years. Plans for a development called The Galleries also appeared, a £100 million project that would link directly with Broadmead, the home of John Lewis Bristol, and would eventually turn Broadmead into a cohesive shopping centre. As part of the ambitious new proposals, lightweight articulated railcars were part of a suggested new transport scheme designed to relieve the city centre of its growing traffic issues.

Too much to handle

Ironically, it was further development in the centre that would eventually force the Partnership to consider relocation. Traffic to the centre was horrendous, dogged by a confusing one-way system. It was felt that many customers from within Bristol were put off by this. Likewise it was felt by Directors that customers from the South West of England would not be prepared to go into the city centre. Therefore, when an opportunity arose to occupy space on the out-of-town Cribbs Causeway shopping centre, the Partnership jumped at the opportunity. Thusly, relocation was announced to Partners in the Gazette of the 12th March 1994.

New location confirmed

The new site would be ideally placed on the motorway, and would now serve a catchment area of nearly 4 million people stretching in all four directions. The branch would be an anchor store, occupying the biggest retail unit and situated in prime location. The building of the centre was scheduled to take four years with opening set for 1998. In the intervening time, John Lewis Bristol soldiered on.

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