Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 18, 2019
Webpage updated: September 18, 2019




The Plymouth business house of Messrs J L Russell Stores Limited, grocers, was located at 19 Russell Street, Plymouth, before the Second World War, with branches elsewhere in the City.

John Lansdowne Russell was born in the Edmonton district of Middlesex in 1883.  He married Miss Annie Elizabeth Greenwood in Hackney district in 1905.

The Russell's had at least three children: Ena Elizabeth Russell was born in 1906 at Brentford, Essex; Leslie John Lansdowne Russell was born in 1914 at Guildford, Surrey; and Kenneth Douglas Russell was born in 1917 at Lipson, in Plymouth, where he later attended the Hoe Grammar School.

Exactly what job John was doing when the family arrived in Plymouth in 1917 is not known but it is said that in about 1918 he commenced selling tea from door-to-door around the Three Towns.

In 1925 he opened his first shop, number 160 King Street, which were known as Russell's Tea Stores.  To that he added 150 and 151 King Street, where he specialised in biscuits, apparently, and by 1932 had groceries at 19 Russell Street; 3 Holborn Place; and 112 Union Street, East Stonehouse.  Within three years he had added branches at 58 Marlborough Street and 20 Cumberland Street, in Devonport.

Both his sons joined him in the business but when the Second World War broke out Kenneth left to join the Merchant Navy as a gunner.  When he was officially called-up he became a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force.

Most of the shops survived the Second World War intact but they lost 160 King Street and had to move from 58 to number 21 in Marlborough Street.  They also opened a new one at 9 North Hill Terrace, Tavistock Road, and in number 3 Avenue of the Pannier Market.

In July 1947 Russell's took over number "Palace Vaults", otherwise number 33 New Street, where Leslie and Kenneth Russell opened a factory for the canning of pilchards and herrings under the name of Messrs Kendie's Limited.  Kenneth ran this business on his own until the end of 1952, when it was sold to Mess H J Heinz Company Limited and the premises converted into a furniture store for Messrs Pickford's Limited.

At this time Mr John Lansdowne Russell was living at 8 Lyndrick Road, Hartley, and Mr Leslie J L Russell was at 197 Beacon Park Road.  They had opened two new shops, at 25/27 Cornwall Street, in the reconstructed City Centre, and at 614 Wolseley Road, St Budeaux.  The unit in the Pannier Market had been moved to numbers 3 to 7 Centre Stalls.

In the summer of 1961 the Russell's opened what was to be a very short-lived venture, a self-service shop, snack bar and the Mayflower Restaurant.  It was constructed especially for the Company but as it was situated right in the centre of the new shopping area, at 97/99 New George Street, the prime site attracted the attention of Mr David Maxwell of Messrs Maxwell Land Investments Limited.  He purchased the premises in November 1961, just a month after announcing that he planned to construct a bowing alley in Plymouth.  It never happened, well, not on that site.

The end of the business came swiftly after that.  On January 20th 1962 it was announced that Messrs J L Russell Stores Limited had sold nine branches to Messrs Pearks' Dairies Limited, a subsidiary of Messrs Meadow Dairy Company Limited, which in turn belonged to Messrs Allied Services Limited.  The branches were at Cornwall Street (two locations); Saint Budeaux; Wolseley Road; Honicknowle; Devonport; Newton Abbot; Tavistock; and Exeter.  Two small 'family' shops at Prince Rock (3 Holborn Place ?) and Keyham (128 Victory Street ?) were retained.

Russell's warehouse at Newnham Road, Colebrook, Plympton, was to be sold by auction on Wednesday February 7th 1962.

It is not known when the two remaining 'family' shops were closed down but Mr Leslie John Lansdown Russell bought several farms on Dartmoor and amalgamated them into one based on Taviton Farm, Tavistock.

The founder of the business, Mr John Lansdown Russell, who had been a widower since 1954, died on August 25th 1971.  He was 88 years of age.  The funeral service was held at Emmanuel Church in Plymouth and he was buried in Ford Park Cemetery.  He was survived by two sons and a daughter, Mrs Ena Elizabeth Roberts.

Mr Kenneth Douglas Russell died at Mary Tavy in February 1991.  He was survived by his widow, Molly, and a son, John.

Mr Leslie John Lansdown Russell died at Taviton Farm, Tavistock, on Tuesday July 5th 1994, aged 80.  He was survived by his widow, Christine, and two sons, Christopher and Paul from his first marriage.