The War Years
Provincial experiment expands, 1940
In 1940, the Partnership’s continued desire to expand to the provinces was realised when the Selfridge Provincial Stores (SPS) group was purchased from Gordon Selfridge. This meant that the Partnership now had shops in a variety of locations, including a number in London itself (e.g. Bon Marche and Jones Brothers), and others dotted around England (e.g. Buckley’s in Yorkshire and Blinkhorns in Gloucestershire).
Victims of War
This further expansion proved vitally important. For in 1940, the Partnership’s flagship department store, John Lewis on Oxford Street, was bombed. Soon afterwards, both Tyrrell and Green and Knight and Lee on the South Coast suffered the same fate and so too did Lance and Lance.
Lance and Lance seriously damaged
In July 1942, Weston-super-Mare was subject to two nights of bombing by enemy aircraft. It was a short but sharp attack with. Large numbers of incendiary bombs fell on the town and several of these penetrated the roof of Lance and Lance. The pre-Partnership section of the building was completely destroyed, although two extensions, added shortly after acquisition in 1933, remained usable. The shops of several neighbouring retailers were completely destroyed. Mr Hurst the General Manager of Lance and Lance at that time, not only saw his shop destroyed, but was wounded to by an incendiary bomb.
Weston-super-Mare seems now like an unlikely target for Nazis attention. It is unlikely that the town was hit as part of the Baedeker Raids, the bombing campaigns that targeted towns or landmarks of natural beauty, such as Norwich, Bath and Canterbury.
It is more likely that Weston suffered because of the publicity that followed demonstrations given to munitions workers of the West, on the towns beaches in April 1942. Thousands of people turned up to witness dive-bombing displays and demonstrations of anti-tank weapons. The event was reported nationwide in cinemas and in newspapers. It is thought that the Nazi’s misunderstood Weston-super-Mare to be a centre of War industry, and therefore targeted it viciously.