03 June 2017

Been shoppin'

The lure of the "my waitrose" card, with free coffee and the price of the newspaper taken out of the rest of the shopping, sends me to that supermarket on a Saturday morning - the weekly shop at Waitrose was a comforting(?) ritual while I was living in Kensal Rise, a sort of continuation of "the old life" with Tony, and now it's another punctuation point for the week. Drawing Tuesdays, Shopping Saturdays - they anchor the days.

It's a short walk to the store in Crouch End, but ... "how you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree"? The store on Finchley Road, the old haunt, has so much more space, so much more stock.

I love to look at all the wonderful things that are available, including the things I feel ever-so-virtuous about not buying. (Pastries; most meat; overpriced olives; overpackaged anything.)

Another factor of enjoyment is the building that houses the Finchley Road store. It used to house a branch of John Lewis - John Barnes - in whose fabric department, in 1975 or 76, I bought bright green fabric for making the roller blinds in the kitchen in the Yorkshire house - a north-facing kitchen that had cheerful yellow formica counters and a (hard, cold) quarry tile floor - remember how fashionable quarry tiles were? remember those kits for making roller blinds?

the building looks to be 1930s; it is rumoured that "back in the day" the company looked after its employees and housed some staff there, and that there was a swimming pool in the basement (the basement is now a parking lot for Waitrose customers, with pillars inconveniently located). It's a rather desirable address.
A little research (in wikipedia) finds that the John Barnes store was opened in 1900 and "occupied the site of 14 shops and several houses and included a central passenger lift. The store occupied four of the floors, and there was accommodation for over 400 members of staff." It started making profits in 1905, and became part of the John Lewis group in 1940. "In 1926, the business was purchased by the newly formed Selfridge Provincial Stores group. With the purchase major changes were brought in to modernise the business, including no staff living on the premises. The business was so successful that in 1935 the store was completely rebuilt in the fashionable style of the time by a design from architect T P Bennett. The new store was located on three of the eight floors, with 96 flats on the upper five floors." The opening of a John Lewis at Brent Cross shopping centre in 1976 affected business, and John Barnes closed in January 1981; Waitrose opened on the ground floor in February 1981 (it had been in the basement).
Heading home with heavy bags

1 comment:

reensstitcher said...

Nice to learn the history of this building which I used to pass as I went about my work for the ILEA. However, we were always South Londoners so Pratts of Streatham was my equivalent. We still have the dining room table we bought there - probably about 1978. And I remember how I first heard about Peter Jones from a flatmate who told me in 1970 that it had been King George VI's favourite shop Until then I thought Selfridges and Liberty were the only places but I quickly became a JL fan and have remained so.