Twenty Twenty at John Lewis Kingston
With the Kingston branch of John Lewis celebrating its 20th year in the town later this month, we have delved back into their history to bring you 20 fascinating facts you probably never knew about this much-loved department store...
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2010
PROMOTIONAL FEATURE: With the Kingston branch of John Lewis celebrating its 20th year in the town later this month, we have delved back into their history to bring you 20 fascinating facts you probably never knew about this much-loved department store...
1) The department store’s opening in 1990 represented the culmination of 25 years’ planning to establish a John Lewis in south London.
2) Below the shop are the remains of a medieval undercroft and part of the old 12th century Kingston Bridge. The undercroft is open during this month’s Heritage Open Days event.
3) Over 145,000m3 of clay, soil and rubble was removed during excavation.
4) The store has the same footprint as St Paul’s Cathedral and is the fourth largest John Lewis in the country.
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5) To navigate its mass, there are 18 lifts and 17 escalators.
6) When planning permission for the store was granted, a redesign of Kingston’s one way traffic system was required, which ultimately put a road through the middle of it – this is why the store comes in two parts.
7) Both underground car parks are the size of an international football pitch.
8) Architect Paul Koralek drew on the department store design of Bon Marche and Printemps in Paris.
9) To achieve this, the void at third floor level is equivalent to an Olympic sized swimming pool and the roof-glazed area extends over 3,500m2.
10) The construction of the building used 55,000m3 of concrete and 8,000 tonnes of reinforcement.
11) A new 80m wall along the Thames riverside had to be constructed with an average depth of some 18m to assist in keeping the lower levels watertight.
12) The foundations are on 300 piles sunk to a depth of 30m below ground level.
13) The brick cladding was completed using Stamford bricks by Williamson Cliff – 800,000 bricks were used.
14) 140 special brick shapes were used as part of the detailing.
15) The operations manager, Andrew Layton, has been at the Kingston store since its opening day in 1990.
16) There is a fabulous roof terrace that overlooks the River Thames for the partners (the John Lewis term for permanent staff).
17) A small collection of work by the Victorian photographer Eadweard Muybridge can be found at the Place to Eat restaurant.
18) Silk mosaic tapestries designed by Lucienne Day hang in the Espresso bar.
19) The store has been immortalised in stained glass. A window made by local stained-glass artist Simone Kay in Kingston’s Guildhall shows a night-time view of the town’s bridge with the shop in the background.
20) A taste of sci-fi has come to John Lewis in recent years, with the department store being used in episodes of both Red Dwarf and Primeval.
John Lewis, Wood Street, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 1TE. Tel: 0208 547 3000 / www.johnlewis.com/kingston