Friday, March 26, 2010

Unveiling a plaque in memory of David Lewis

Arnold Lewis, Jewish Archivist and fellow member of the Deane Road Jewish Cemetery committee kindly invited me on Wednesday to the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate David Lewis.

It has been placed on the side of Lewis's building on Ranelagh Street.

David was born in London in 1823 and died in 1885 in Liverpool, having established Lewis's Department stores in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and other cities.

Saul Marks tells us that "Lewis established strong ethics at the outset, which would be the foundation of his businesses: he refused to haggle; he would fix a low price and stick to it; he did not give credit; he was always willing to exchange unsatisfactory goods; he never borrowed money; and he always fed his profits back into the business"

He was a very generous benefactor and after his death a trust he had set up in his name built the David Lewis Northern Hospital and also a hostel and club for seafarers, endowed the Princes Road Synagogue

He is buried in Deane Road Jewish Cemetery, Kensington (although it was described as being in Fairfield when it was first opened).

It was a lovely morning, the ceremony was performed by a great great nephew of David and also by Steve Binns, our marvellous local historian who reminded us that Lewis saw his stores as "friends of the people" selling goods "within the reach of the masses". There was quite a crowd there to celebrate this special event.

Afterwards we retired for lunch in the Green Fish Cafe, and very nice it was too.

Well done to Arnold (no relation, sadly) for all his hard work in making this day possible and fulfilling a dream he had for 3 years.

What a bitter shame that the unveiling came in the same week as the announcement that the store was to close (again) because it is not making enough money. Still, at least the facade has been protected, and anything new built here will have to be built within the skin of the store. People will still be "meeting under a statue exceedingly bare" for a long time to come

Pictured: Details of plaque, picture of David Lewis, and Arnold Lewis and me admiring the plaque in situ

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A wonderful achievement. Yes sadly no more Lewis's. However would we have the modern day Primark, Pundstretcher, Matalan's etc if it wasn't for the foundations in providing affordable merchandise that David Lewis established.