Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bath, Somerset

In a Bath tea-shop

I have a certain fondness for old enamel advertising signs – their strong colours and period letterforms are hard to resist. I find it rather exciting to find them in situ, out of doors, still advertising long-forgotten brands of sausages or cigarettes. But almost as good is coming across an example that someone has saved and put up, just for the fun of it. Here's one the Resident Wise Woman and I came across when having afternoon tea on the day I discovered such things as the abandoned public lavatory and the hill-top villa that I've previously posted on this blog.

Lyons' made quite a few signs for their brand of tea. This is one of the simpler ones. Larger versions had added slogans, such as 'Always the best' and 'A packet for every pocket'. On this occasion, they just let the brand do the talking, aided by the distinctive orange and blue colouring. Many people knew Lyons' because of their chain of tea shops (and their larger and grander Corner Houses), which served tea, cakes, and inexpensive meals and were beloved of shoppers on many a High Street.

The company sold foods over the counter too. Lyons' restaurants usually had a bakery counter at the front and there were also larger Maison Lyons stores that sold a range of goods. This being Britain, tea was a big seller, along with ice cream and biscuits, and these remained important lines for Lyons' until the company went into decline and was broken up in the 1980s. Now the vibrant signs remain, on restored heritage railway platforms and in the occasional tea shop, to remind us of a once-great brand.


Hels said...

Lyons Corner Tearooms were important because they offered middle class women and couples the opportunity to have a friendly, clean and safe social life outside the home.

I am sorry Lyons were broken up in the 1980s, but their purpose had been achieved for many decades.

Peter Ashley said...

Now then. I have a simplified later version of this on my kitchen wall. Without the apostrophe, as in most cases now it doesn't. I believe in Corner House days it was 'J.Lyons & Co'. I've been thinking about this for far too long, and it's right, isn't it, to put this mercurial apostrophe after the 's'?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Peter. You are right. I was asleep. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Hels: Yes. When Lyons' started, there weren't many places that unaccompanied women could go to eat or have a cup of tea. Tea rooms in the early department stores fulfilled a similar function, I think.

Anonymous said...

The Nigella Lawson episode of Who Do You Think You Are? is all about the history of Lyons. It is available on YouTube.

Lake Lili in Newfoundland

bazza said...

When I was a young boy a visit to a Lyons Corner House was the very height of excited anticipation! I was very sad when they went but they had probably become an anachronism by the 1980s.
Also the phrase "heritage railway platform" is full of warm nostalgia these days!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’