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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.

JohnsonBarnes

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.

JBfactory

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. 

Acknowledgements:

George Weston
Kibworth History Society
Kibworth and District Chronicle

Published in Modern
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