Friday, 8 August 2014

John Lewis 150th Year Celebrations at the Oxford Street Store

Yesterday, Little Bird and I made a trip into town to visit the Roof Garden at the Oxford Street John Lewis store, which was built to celebrate their 150th year of trading on the site.  I'd wanted to visit ever since I'd heard about it earlier in the year.

We took a bus which dropped us off just across the road, so made it super easy.  I needed to check out a couple of items instore whilst we were there too, as I need both a new iron and vacuum cleaner, so I combined the visit with a bit of consumer research.

When we entered the store we noticed a sign advertising their 150th Year Celebration Exhibition, so that was our first port of call on the 3rd Floor.  The exhibition was built in the style of the original store and to the same footprint too, so you got a feel for the size of the origninal store.

It was interesting to learn that the store took less than one pound in old money, on it's first day trading.  It was probably quite a lot in those days.

I took a few photographs of some of the exhibits which included a wonderful haberdashery counter,

plus lots of very authentic looking replica costumes of the dress styles of the day when it was opened.

We wandered through the exhibition.  It was very interesting to read about the founding and development of the brand, the partnership with it's staff and it's stores countrywide.   I learnt various facts that I didn't know, such as the fact that the Oxford Street store was completely destroyed in World War Two, when and oil bomb was dropped on it and it was 20 years before it reopened in it's current form.

There were videos of old TV adverts which made us smile, exhibits of clothes and other items sold in the stores from both the past and the present, including hats worn by Queen Victoria and Queen Mary and dresses by modern day Japanese designers. 

There was information and exhibits relating to collaborations the store was involved in, with some of the prominent designers from the 1950's and 1960's and later, such as Lucienne and Robin Day and scuptor Barbara Hepworth, who designed the beautiful sculpture hung on the side of the building. (Sadly I forgot to take a photo of this).

It is certainly well worth a visit if you're in the area this summer and both the exhibition and roof garden are free to enter. 

From the exhibition, we made our way up to the roof garden.  It was a scorching hot day and it was midday or thereabouts at the time of our visit, so there were lots of people up there, partaking of refreshments on sale at the small cafe, and soaking up the sun or keeping out of it in more shady parts of the garden.

Much of the planting was done like a wall, which was very clever and there were lots of little nooks and crannies to explore.

It was a lovely little oasis with views both across the rooftops of central London and right down onto Oxford Street itself.

We finished our visit by having lunch in one of the cafes inside the store.  I used another of my vouchers to get a free cup of tea and cake and treated us both to savoury crepes which were very nice indeed.

We finished our lovely day out with a tiny bit of pre-school shopping on Oxford Street, where the streets were rammed full of people out shopping and sightseeing.  By the time we left we were very glad to be on our way home, leaving central London to the shoppers and visitors alike.


  1. I really like the Winged Figure sculpture, and the building in general. It looks like a nice pop up exhibition. Fun!

    1. Yes, it was interesting. I didn't realise it was there so it was a bonus too.

  2. Wow the roof garden looks fantastic! I watched the Shop Girls documentary that was on recently, and it featured John Lewis of old.

    1. It was a lovely little spot, but was pretty busy when we were there. I do like the partnership idea where the staff get a share of the profits. Makes good business sense to look after your staff and they will look after the business. Maybe that's why they've survived so long.

  3. What a lovely visit - I might have to pop up ! Love seeing the old shop pictures x

    1. It made a lovely day out and didn't cost much either.