Fortune rains on son of Harborough


170 years ago,  William Wheeler Kendall was born near Market Harborough.   Soon after his 21st birthday he made his way from his family's farm in Great Oxendon,  through Harborough,  to Leicester to seek his fortune.   It must have been raining on his journey, because he decided to make umbrellas.

Kendalls became a prominent High Street brand.  Their umbrellas were bought by everyman and everyone.  They were a forward-looking company which cared for its staff,. They pioneered morning and afternoon coffee breaks and allowed their employees to decide how long their lunch breaks should be.

Kendalls was a family business until 1977.   In 1981 it was sold on Hepworths, the menswear chain.  They hired George Davis to convert Kendalls shops into something new - and he created NEXT.

There's more on these and other High Street brands in 'British Retail', on sale now in hardback from all bookshops and online.