The death of Mr John Lewis, 1928

The TJ Harries exterior at the time of acquisition, 1928
The TJ Harries exterior at the time of acquisition, 1928
John Lewis as an elderly gentleman, 1910
John Lewis as an elderly gentleman, 1910
First trust Settlement 1929
First trust Settlement 1929


Spedan Lewis and his father remained bitter to each other for another two years. Reconciliation only came about because Spedan’s mother persuaded her husband to visit Peter Jones. He was most surprised and impressed by what he found and wrote to his son Oswald,

‘The place is a credit to the boy, a very great credit’

A result of this visit was that John Lewis gave Spedan more cash to put into Peter Jones and also brought him back into Oxford Street with a formal one third of the business. This, Spedan eventually converted into two thirds by buying his brother’s share,who wanted to try other avenues. However John Lewis was never told.

In effect Spedan now ran John Lewis and Peter Jones.

A pivotal year

In 1928, another property was purchased by Spedan Lewis on Oxford Street. TJ Harries, previously a competitor of John Lewis, was absorbed into the existing department store. This building became known as John Lewis East House, whilst the original department store was cleverly labelled the West House. The more traditional stocks of fabrics and furniture remained in the West House whilst newer merchandise like ready made clothing and electrical goods were housed in the Eash House.  The Oxford Street shops would remain like this until the Second World War.

John Lewis dies

Of perhaps greater importance to the future of the John Lewis Partnership was the fact that old John Lewis eventually passed away at the age of 92 in 1928. He refusing to let his shop go, he never fully retired. Although he had made peace with his son, it is clear that his father’s passing left the door open for Spedan to implement his ideas of Partnership.

The First Trust Settlement

Finally, after years of work and preparation Spedan could put his plan to create a new type of business into action.  In 1929, the initial formal document known as the First Trust Settlement was created putting the Partnership scheme into practice. The John Lewis Partnership was born.

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