JOHNSON & BARNES LTD
Dover Street, Kibworth Beauchamp
The company was started by John Thomas Johnson who was working for a hosiery manufacturer in Fleckney when he decided to start his own business. He installed two knitting frames in a shed in Kibworth Beauchamp and started production. He was joined by William Barnes in 1901 and the Johnson and Barnes Company was created.
A factory was built in Dover Street and equipped with knitting machines to manufacture fully fashioned hose. The company expanded rapidly and in 1906 a factory was opened at Lutterworth and two years later new machines were purchased for the Kibworth factory. These new machines proved highly successful and the original building in Dover Street was extended.
Johnson and Barnes factory, Dover Street, Kibworth Beauchamp
The company purchased premises in Rutland Street Leicester which provided offices, showrooms, and warehousing space.
About this time Johnson and Barnes introduced the trade name ‘Excello’ for their hosiery products and the company became one of the leading manufacturers in the hosiery business. Growth continued and in 1912 the business became a limited company.
The World War l years saw changes to the company, in 1915 a former lace-making factory in Stapleford, Nottinghamshire was acquired, John Thomas Johnson died in October 1917 and in 1918 the factory at Lutterworth was closed.
Post war the company thrived as demand for longer stockings increased with the company reacting to this fashion change by installing new machines
capable of producing longer and wider stockings which were marketed under the trade name ‘Flexcello’
New factory, warehouse and office space was acquired in Charles Street and Rutland Street Leicester and the head office was moved from Kibworth to the new premises.
William Barnes died in December 1932.
During World War ll the factories produced half-hose for the ATS, WAAF, and WRNS.
After the war the company continued to prosper and on 23rd February 1948 a factory was opened in Worsbrough, near Barnsley. Kibworth’s production was centred on fully fashioned ladies stockings and boys' three-quarter hose with production increasing to 3,500 dozen pairs a week.
In 1951 Johnson and Barnes celebrated their Golden Jubilee.
However, this was the beginning of the end of Johnson and Barnes as the hosiery trade was threatened by cheap overseas imports. This was followed in the early 1960s by the introduction of the mini-skirt and the demand for tights instead of stockings. Johnson & Barnes had insufficient capital to invest in new machinery required to produce tights. The company suffered during this time and in 1961 the Worsborough factory was closed. The business diversified into the production of knitted garments and the company was acquired by a Canadian financier, Joel David Lerner. In 1970 the Leicester premises were sold, the Stapleford factory was rebuilt and the Kibworth factory was closed in 1971. By 1977 the business had been bought by an investment company, however it continued to lose money and in May 1981 a Receiver was appointed. The Stapleford factory closed that year. Liquidators were appointed in August 1983 with Johnson & Barnes Ltd dissolved in January 1987.
Kibworth History Society
Kibworth and District Chronicle
During excavations at the rear of Tudor Cottage, Weir Road, Kibworth Beauchamp in 1954 the skull, atlas, the top vertebrae which supports the skull, and metatarsal, the long bone in the foot, of a large Ox was uncovered. Oxen were a large horned mammal that once roamed in herds across Europe including the United Kingdom but became extinct in these areas.
The find resulted in Leicester University organising archaeological excavation of the site.
Archaeologists recovered the skull, vertebrae and parts of the pelvis and limbs and these items have been preserved in the Leicester Museum
From the bones recovered it was deduced that the Ox was the largest to be found in Leicestershire. The measurement between the horns was 96 centimetres (38 inches). An unusual feature about the remains was that it was buried in an upright position indicating that the mammal had been trapped in soft ground and had died standing up. The Archaeologists estimated that the mammal died over 5,000 years ago.
Kibworth History Society
On the weekend of 25th and 26th July 2009 two hundred villagers, volunteer diggers and professional archaeologists worked together to open fifty test pits in the villages of Kibworth Beauchamp, Kibworth Harcourt and Smeeton Westerby in south Leicestershire.The event was organised by Michael Wood and his production team from Maya Vision International as part of their new BBC TV series the “Story of England” and under the direction of Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA).
Big Dig volunteers outside the Coach and Horses Inn
Andrew Southerden (pub licensee), Michael Wood and Prof. Carenza Lewis in foreground
The volunteers gathered in Kibworth Grammar School Hall on the Saturday morning to receive a briefing from Professor Carenza Lewis, a British archaeologist who became famous as a result of her appearances on the Channel 4 television series “Time Team”. Stockpiles of tools including mattocks, trowels, tarpaulin and sieves were available as well as detailed instructions on how to record finds.
Throughout the weekend archaeologists were available to respond to calls from the pit sites to give advice on articles found. The digs were also filmed by three roving film crews. The exercise was co-ordinated from The Coach and Horses Inn where the restaurant was equipped with aerial maps, wireless broadband and relevant printed histories and documents relating to the area. This enabled the teams of experts to quickly attend any of the test pit sites where their expertise was required. The licensee of the Coach and Horses Inn, Andrew Southerden, dug a test pit in the corner of the pub car park (there is now a plaque on the wall behind the site of the pit).
During the course of the Dig over 2500 finds were recorded and labeled, and are now at Cambridge University for analysis by Carenza Lewis and her team. The finds included:
The pit at The Coach and Horses Inn produced early/middle Saxon pottery (450-650AD) and a stratified fragment of an incised patterned early Anglo-Saxon bone comb from undisturbed deposits. There appears little doubt that it revealed the site of the earliest Anglo-Saxon settlement of Kibworth, with at least 20cm of undisturbed deposits of that date. It appears to have fallen from use before the Viking invasions, and not occupied by people since.
Early-Anglo-Saxon bone comb from the pit at the Coach and Horses Inn
Roman pottery was found in two test pits, one in Kibworth Harcourt, the other in Smeeton Westerby. Neither pit produced more than a few sherds. The pit in Kibworth Harcourt also produced forty sherds of St Neots Ware (c.875-1100AD) and six of Stamford Ware (c.875-1200AD) indicating intensive use of this plot during these periods.
Only one of the pits, more than 1km to the south of this find, produced any pottery of middle Anglo-Saxon date (650-850): a single small sherd of Ipswich Ware (700-850) weighing just 6g, although small this was noted as the first find of Ipswich ware in Leicestershire, and as such is of considerable interest, possibly indicating a site of some status in the vicinity.
Four pits in Smeeton Westerby produced Stamford ware (c.875-1200AD), three of which were sited close together along the west side of the main street. Although these produced smaller amounts of pottery (none yielded more than four sherds), they do seem likely to indicate settlement in this area in the late Anglo-Saxon period.
In Kibworth Beauchamp only about half of the pits excavated produced medieval pottery, whether this indicates less intensive settlement here or it is simply due to sampling bias across a small number of pits where there were far less dug.
In the medieval period, the pattern is very different, with most pits producing significant numbers of sherds dating from 1100-1400AD. These include nine of the twelve pits along Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt, indicating the possibility that there was settlement along this street in the High Medieval period, quite possibly arranged as a regular planned row either side of the street.
Smeeton and Westerby also produced large amounts of pottery dating to 1100-1400AD and activity here appears to have increased significantly in the centuries after the Norman Conquest.
Only two of the five pits excavated in Kibworth Harcourt produced later medieval pottery, also in minimal quantities. Documentary evidence suggests that the population of Kibworth Harcourt dropped by around 40% in 1348-9 (The Black Death) and, after a weak rally in the 1360s and 1370s, dwindled further throughout the first half of the fifteenth century to less than a quarter of the pre-Black Death level, almost to vanishing point. The pottery evidence from the excavated test pits clearly seems to reflect this, it seems that those few families who lived in the former villages in the fifteenth century must have done so in an otherwise almost deserted landscape. In the post-medieval period, however, there is a marked recovery, with nearly all test pits producing material of sixteenth to eighteenth century date.
The pit in Jubilee Green, Main Street, Kibworth Harcourt (the site of the old village market (see Early Modern/ Kibworth Harcourt Village Centre)) was dug by a team of pupils from Kibworth High School and they un-earthed a stone cannonball from the English Civil War (1642 to 1651).
Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Maya Vision International
All the volunteer diggers were very enthusiastic and many were rewarded by their finds, the artifacts below were recovered from a pit in Smeeton Westerby much to the delight of the amateur archaeologist who found them.
Finds from Smeeton Westerby pit