FAMILY and friends are mourning the death of a woman who strove to keep open one of Hereford’s most iconic stores.

Diana Barnes, who died last week aged 73, was the great-granddaughter of George Greenland who opened his imposing High Town department store in the mid-19th century.

Mrs Barnes was among the many who lamented its closure 50 years ago, having sought to preserve Greenlands with her parents and brother, Colin.

Claimed in its day to be the ‘Harrods of the West’, Greenlands was sold to Marks and Spencer for £350,000 in 1968 and demolished to make way for the present M&S store.

Mrs Barnes’ husband, Major Robert Barnes said the hopes of his wife and her family to keep Greenlands open were dashed when they were outvoted by other shareholders.

Paying tribute to his wife, Major Barnes, a churchwarden at Pipe-cum-Lyde, said his wife went to Hereford’s ‘Redcap’ school before going to boarding school in Malvern.

“We were married on Trafalgar Day 1966,” he said. “She was a wonderful wife and mother and I will miss her dreadfully. Our three daughters – all little Dianas – will be my strength in the years to come.” There are also four grandchildren.

Major Barnes said he and his wife, whose family business was a landmark store in the region, were both disappointed at the “demise” of the city centre in more recent years.

“High Town was once a thriving hub, but there is no historical value with any of the businesses in High Town now apart from Lloyd’s Bank,” he said. Mrs Barnes’ forebear was a great entrepreneur who brought the first department store to Hereford. Part of the city’s heritage, the store was established in 1856 and drew customers from a wide area.

In its day, Greenlands competed with other major independent Hereford stores including Augustus C. Edwards, also in High Town, and Chadds in Commercial Street – both now also gone.

Said Major Barnes: “Diana had very fond memories of Greenlands.” He explained that she and her brother, Colin, who still lives in Hereford, had made every effort to keep Greenlands open.

“But one side of the family wanted to sell,” he said. “Diana, her brother and parents didn’t have enough shares, so it was sold and pulled down.” His brother-in-law maintained the Greenlands’ name with his furniture shop in Widemarsh Street which closed in 2003.

Her great-grandfather, a modest philanthropist, had expanded the store with the acquisition of new properties in the city centre. He died in 1901 but left the growing business to his four sons. With a history stretching back to the 1800s, the name Greenlands will remain in Hereford’s trading heritage.

Mrs Barnes’ funeral was held at St Peter’s Church, Lyde earlier this week.