John Lobb, bootmaker, probably opened his first shop in London at 296 Regent Street in 1866. In 1880 he expanded and opened a second shop at 29 St James's Street and at the beginning of the century two more premises were added, 292 Regent Street and 1 Rue Vingt Neuf Juillet in Paris. The second shop also moved from 29 to 55 St James's Street. In 1895 John Lobb died and was succeeded by William Hunter Lobb his second son. (The eldest son, John, had been expelled from the family, having been caught wth his hand in the till). William Hunter died in 1916 and his wife Betsy Lobb ran the business until their eldest son, Mr Will, was old enough to enter the firm.
By the beginning of the second world war, Lobbs was declining rapidly and Mr Will's youngest brother, Mr Eric, entered the firm on a voluntary basis in February 1939. Later that year, after the outbreak of war, William left the firm for the Ministry of Information.
During the war the Lobb premises were bombed six times and in 1944 55 St James's Street was destroyed. Luckily Lobbs found new premises at 26 St James's Street.
In the years after the war, Mr Eric slowly rebuilt the firm and expanded into the American market to try and combat the decline in orders in this country due to rationing. William also rejoined the firm and together with their mother Betsy they became three equal partners. Betsy Lobb died in 1956 and William in 1963. Mr Eric still runs the business today.
In 1962 Lobbs were forced to move premises again, to 7-9 St James's Street, to make room for the Economist tower block.
Since the war Lobbs have taken over several boot and shoe makers, including Box, Buhl, Moykopf and Tuczek, the records of which are also held here. (Acc 327 and 1555). In the Lobbs records are two books of indexes to lasts from [Peter Yapp Ltd], presumably also taken over.
For the complete history of the company see: Brian Dobbs, The Last Shall be First, London 1972.