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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/3811
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1893-1989
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 3.06 linear metres
Name of creator(s): J Lyons and Company Limited | food manufacturers and caterers


Administrative/Biographical history:

Lyons was founded in 1886 as a catering business, earning a reputation as caterers for exhibitions at Newcastle, Glasgow, Paris and London's Olympia. In 1894 it was incorporated as a public company and established its head office and food factories at Cadby Hall in Hammersmith. The company rapidly established a chain of Teashops, Cornerhouses and Restaurants with the opening of the first Lyons Teashop in 1894 in Piccadilly, the Trocadero Restaurant in 1896 and the First Lyons Corner House in 1909 in Coventry Street. To keep pace with this expansion, the factories were moved to Greenford in Middlesex in 1920 and the largest tea packing plant in the world opened. Further progress was made during the Second World War with the development of the FROOD - a revolutionary frozen cooked food process. The company is also famous for its work in less obvious fields - from 1941 to 1945 it operated a munitions factory at Elstow near Bedford on the reputed site of the slough of despond. In 1954 it developed LEO (Lyons Electronic Office), the first computer in the world capable of use for commercial work.

Further growth came in the 1970s with the acquisition of a number of businesses both in the UK and overseas. In 1978, Lyons became the food division of Allied Breweries which was renamed Allied-Lyons in 1981. In 1990 the head office was moved from Cadby Hall to Greenford. In 1994 Allied-Lyons decided to dispose of its food manufacturing operations and to change its name to Allied Domecq. The individual companies were sold off and Lyons head office closed in 1995.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of J Lyons and Company Ltd, 1893-1989. The records relate to various aspects of the company's history. In particular, there is a substantial collection of legal papers relating mainly to catering contracts entered into by the company, 1893-1978, and a series of private ledgers, 1894-1921. Also of interest is a group of files relating to the administration of Elstow Ordnance Factory near Bedford, 1941-1947.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

ACC/3811/001-005: Share Records; ACC/3811/006-028: Legal Records: Contracts/Licences; ACC/3811/029-034: Legal Records: Court Cases; ACC/3811/035-046: Financial Records; ACC/3811/047-065: Operation; ACC/3811/066-068: Staff; ACC/3811/069-072: Miscellaneous; ACC/3811/073-074: Printed; ACC/3811/075-076: Press Cuttings; ACC/3811/077: Photographs; ACC/3811/078: Films; ACC/3811/079: Artefacts

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

This additional collection of records of J Lyons and Company Limited was given to London Metropolitan Archives on 27 November 1996.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For related records, see ACC/3527, LMA/4306, LMA/4004, LMA/4018, LMA/4183, LMA/4258, LMA/4271

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July to October 2009

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