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The story is on the walls - at John Lewis in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:25 26 March 2012

The Sheriff of Norwich, Chris Higgins cuts the ribbon to officially mark the Bonds and John Lewis shop history in old photographs in the store's Place To Eat. With him are, from left, Richard Marks, general manager; Isabel Macdonald, managing director; and Mary Ash, acting chairman of the Norwich Society. Picture: Denise Bradley

The Sheriff of Norwich, Chris Higgins cuts the ribbon to officially mark the Bonds and John Lewis shop history in old photographs in the store's Place To Eat. With him are, from left, Richard Marks, general manager; Isabel Macdonald, managing director; and Mary Ash, acting chairman of the Norwich Society. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

There is more than food on the menu at one famous Norwich department store restaurant - the story of a shopping dynasty.

It is a landmark Norwich department store with an exciting future and a rich history – one we can all enjoy thanks to a new display at John Lewis which is still known and loved as Bonds.

A few months ago we were telling you how John Lewis was celebrating the completion of a £7m renovation project – the latest chapter in an extraordinary story of one Norwich business and how it has changed and developed over the decades.

Now customers can all follow the ups and downs of what happened after Robert Herne Bond opened a small drapery business at 19 Ber Street way back in 1879.

Four heritage walls at the Place to Eat restaurant in the famous curved building at the junction of Ber Street and All Saints Green have been opened by the Sheriff of Norwich Chris Higgins.

And it was fitting it should be done during a breakfast gathering for members of the heritage watchdog, the Norwich Society, which does such good and valuable work in the city on our behalf.

“The heritage walls are a fantastic display which add to the knowledge and rich heritage of our city, they show pictorially the social history of the shop,” said Chris.

“The pictures from during the war very much resonate with me as The Trafford Arms also suffered bomb damage on the same night as Bonds,” added landlord Chris.

Store manager Richard Marks said he was delighted that they had been able to be sensitive to the heritage of the shop during recent renovations, respecting the architecture of many of the features - revealing more windows of the old cottages in the atrium for example.

“It is fitting that we should celebrate the history of the shop with the refurbishment marking the start of a new era,” said Richard.

The walls tell the story of how Robert Bond opened his shop and of the early expansion programme with members of his family joining the business which kept on growing.

It moves on to the 1940s when the store was hit during a massive air raids on the city in June of 1942 which destroyed the shop and the beautiful Thatched Cinema next door. Within days the shop was trading from old buses on the bomb site.

The new revolutionary designed store, the work of the talented Robert Owen Bond, fitted in well with the bold City of Norwich Plan of 1945 I have been writing about recently. Bonds was at the forefront of a new shopping era.

The new shop was completed in 1953 and it continued to develop, meeting the changing needs of customers. In 1982 the Bond family sold it to John Lewis, opening another chapter in its glorious history. The name changed followed 20 years later and the refurbishment was completed at the end of last year.

Today the new-look shop continues to play a leading role in the life of the city and county.

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