Sir John Moores 1896-1993

In 1992, Liverpool Polytechnic achieved university status, and was named after Sir John Moores, a choice that the first Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Toyne, described as being 'in the spirit of optimism'.

Sir John Moores was a remarkable individual who embodied the ethos of the city and the new university through his entrepreneurial approach to life and philanthropy.

A true visionary and a shrewd, successful businessman, who founded in 1923, and headed until 1982, what was then the UK's largest and most profitable privately owned company, Littlewoods, comprising retailing, mail order and the football pools.

Based in Liverpool, the impact of the family business was immense, and in 1987 the Polytechnic recognised Sir John's outstanding contribution to the region's business and community life by making him its first Honorary Fellow.

The university is a lasting memorial to an individual who did so much to build a highly successful business from humble origins and to encourage others to strive for excellence

Sir John's eldest son, John Moores Jr, served as the university's second Chancellor from 1994 to 1999, succeeding Henry Cotton. His eldest daughter, Lady Grantchester, was admitted as an Honorary Fellow of the University in 2015.

In LJMU’s Bicentenary year in 2023, it celebrated the legacy of Sir John’s Littlewoods empire through the Littlewoods Heritage Project.  

The project is the culmination of five years of impassioned research by Dr Ruth Doughty from Liverpool Screen School, ensuring that the story of the Moores family and their ‘Littlewoodies’ - how staff were affectionately known - is recorded forever more.  

Through cataloguing, curating and conversation with the people that worked for and were associated with Littlewoods, Dr Doughty and her colleagues uncovered amazing stories alongside vintage photographs and archive materials including pools coupons, promotional artwork and letters which have not previously been available to the public for almost a century. 

What’s more is that through student internships the archive materials were also digitised, oral histories captured on camera and even brought to life through an animated short film Above all: Inside the Littlewoods dream factory. 

Crucially, the heritage project captured the ethos of belonging that Sir John instilled in his workforce. It showcased moving stories of sisterhood and camaraderie, which created friendships that last to this very day.