The Partnership's second go at Peterborough

Front cover of the Gazette, showing both the Queensgate cente and the proposed site of the new Jon Lewis department store. The new store is marked on the left

The Partnership is patient

In 1956, the people of Peterborough witnessed a fire that would forever change the face of the city, and would drastically alter the retail landscape in the area. For in this year a significant proportion of Peterborough’s biggest department store Robert Sayle Peterborough (formally Thompsons) was burnt to the ground. And in its place 30 years or so later, John Lewis Peterborough rose from the ashes to prominence.

For the next 18 years or so, the ‘John Lewis Partnership’ kept its distance from the city of Peterborough. Opportunities elsewhere were given the go ahead and were subsequently built. However, it was in fact Peterborough’s own development that in the end enticed the Partnership back into the vicinity.

A New Town

In 1967, Peterborough was designated a New Town, and in much the same way as Milton Keynes was to undergo substantial development in order to accommodate an overspill population from London. With excellent transport links both to the Capital and to places nationwide, the location was perfect. The Peterborough Development Corporation, created in 1970, concentrated resources on the creation of four townships: Bretton, Orton, Paston and Werrington, all of which were based just outside the city centre.

The population figures were expected to rocket, with an additional 100,000 people in the vicinity. News of such development made the John Lewis Partnership prick up its ears. When news followed shortly afterwards about the opening of a brand new indoor shopping centre at the city’s heart, the Partnership was positively salivating! In the Gazette of the 6th November 1976, the Partnership announced that that initial terms to build an anchoring department store on the site had been approved by the Peterborough Development Corporation.

Queensgate confirmed

In March 1978, the Gazette confirmed to its readers that a Waitrose Supermarket would be joining the proposed department store in what would be called the Queensgate shopping Centre. All approval required was given to the Board in a meeting in February. And with that, building commenced.

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