Remembering George Henry Lee – a social history

So, we go from social commentary on the creep of gated communities to doing an ‘art’ review on a shop window on consecutive days? Yes, that’s the way it is round here.

Early last year Sarah wrote a post on here about her favourite shop in the history of the whole world ever, George Henry Lee’s in Liverpool. The post told the story of the shop, carrying our pictures of its final day’s trading before moving to a new site in 2008. The story was popular at the time and has continued to be read by a good many George Henry Lee fans every day since.

George Henry Lee's, 2008.

George Henry Lee’s, 2008.

The glorious central staircase, subsequently and senselessly ripped down by the building’s current inhabitants, T.K. Maxx.

The shelves almost emptied. Sarah's final visit to her beloved 'Habi'

The shelves almost emptied. Sarah’s final visit to George Henry’s.

So as a public service to all those fans I thought I’d draw attention to something interesting that’s happening in the windows of the ‘new’ ‘George Henry’s’ – now John Lewis in Liverpool One – at the moment.

I was sauntering past on my way to get the bus yesterday, when my eyes became conscious that in the normally bland windows of the shop there was art going on. In fact, beautifully detailed large graphic displays telling the social history of the 150 year life of the John Lewis Partnership.

150 years of John Lewis.

150 years of John Lewis.

John Lewis02

Large graphic displays.

John Lewis03

Telling the story of John Lewis and also what was happening in the world around it at the time.

The Great War ending in a time of basic principles and suffragettes.

The Great War ending in a time of making life better. Basic principles and suffragettes.

The artist, Morag Myerscough.

The artist, Morag Myerscough.

 

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The story of 1919 in a 2014 street.

Marketing before it was called marketing.

Marketing before it was probably called marketing.

Like, I bet no one was calling it ‘building the brand’ in 1925.

The profit sharing idea being born. Around the same time as the Teasmade.

The profit sharing idea being put into practice. Around the same time as the Teasmade is invented.

This is where we come in.

This is where we come in.

Yes, 1940. John Lewis buys George Henry Lee’s in Liverpool. And look at all those other splendid names in other places.

If anyone were to ask me I’d suggest those names were reintroduced. A sense of place matters, you know.

After rationing and post war austerity, the country begins to recover.

After rationing and post war austerity, the country begins to recover.

Life, and curtains, get more colourful.

Life, and curtains, get more colourful.

Social history in a shop window. Never knowingly under told.

Social history in a shop window. Never knowingly under told.

As you’ll know if you’ve read Sarah’s original George Henry Lee article, we don’t think the whole of the culture was successfully transferred to this new Liverpool One store. But who knows? Maybe telling themselves the story of how they got going and their founding principles will help the organisation to recover them.

And turn somewhere bland.

And turn somewhere bland.

Back into somewhere wonderful.

Back into somewhere wonderful.

Somewhere like George Henry’s in fact.

Well worth braving the privatised streets of Liverpool One to have a look at this. And I assume it’ll be in the windows of the John Lewis stores elsewhere too. Plus they’ve got a book you can buy about their history too, if you wish. ‘A Very British Revolution.’ But window shopping is free, and in this case stylish and informative.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Remembering George Henry Lee – a social history

  1. Yossi Jackson

    By the way, John Lewis is not some kind of workers cooperative, at least their grocery stores (Waitrose) aren’t. My partner works for them. Zero contract hours, min wage, and lots of temporary staff who have been temporary for years. Just saying.

    Reply

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