Sainsbury's founder born in Waterloo 180 years ago

Wednesday 12 June is the 180th anniversary of the birth in Waterloo of John James Sainsbury, founder of one of the UK's best-known supermarket chains.

Sainsbury's founder born in Waterloo 180 years ago
John James Sainsbury was born in 1844 in what is now Baylis Road, close to Lambeth North Station. (Image from Google Street View used with permission.)

Sainsbury was born on 12 June 1844 at 5 Oakley Street, Lambeth.

Oakley Street is now Baylis Road, and old street-numbering plans show that number 5 was at the Westminster Bridge Road end of the street, on a site now occupied by the Westminster Square residential complex, close to what is now Costa Coffee and the Point A hotel.

Contemporary business directories record 5 Oakley Street as the premises of Robert Cave, a fishing tackle manufacturer.

Sainsbury learnt his trade working for a grocer in The Cut from the age of 14, before going on to set up the now-famous family firm in 1869.

Since 2012 Sainsbury's has had a Local store at the corner of The Cut and Short Street, close to the site of the founder's family home.

According to an official history of the company published for the centenary in 1969 the census of 1851 records the founder's parents, with two daughters and a son, living at Short Street, off The New Cut.

Sainsbury's had its headquarters in Stamford Street between 1890 and 2001, and the company still nods to its local heritage with its Stamford Street value range of products.

A bust of John James Sainsbury used to be on display at Stamford Street HQ and is now at the Sainsbury Study Centre in the Museum of London Docklands.

Having moved to Holborn in 2001, next year the company is due to relocate its HQ to Charterhouse Street, close to Smithfield Market.

The company's local connections are recorded for posterity in the stained glass at Christ Church Southwark in Blackfriars Road. The Colombo Centre in Colombo Street occupies a building that once served as the Sainsbury's staff canteen.

Sainsbury's former Stamford Street HQ is recorded in the stained glass at Christ Church Southwark

Tags: History, Business, Waterloo, Lambeth

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