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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/3527
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1891-1995
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 30.35 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 Limited, food manufacturers and caterers, 1891-1995. The archives reflect all aspects of the company's history. There are some of the usual company records relating to management, shareholding and administration, but the collection is particularly strong in what may be termed ephemera. There are hundreds of photographs, from 1887 up to the present day, a few films and videos, and large collections of press cuttings, advertisements, menus and even a set of lithographs which were commissioned by the company after the Second World War as a way of brightening up Lyons Corner Houses.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The archive is arranged into the following series:
ACC/3527/001-006: Management;
ACC/3527/007-009: Shares;
ACC/3527/010-050: Internal administration;
ACC/3527/051-059: Finance;
ACC/3527/060-072: Operation;
ACC/3527/073-169: Marketing;
ACC/2527/170-178: Conferences and presentations;
ACC/3527/179-208: Staff;
ACC/3527/209-226: Property;
ACC/3527/227-263: Subject files;
ACC/3527/264: Symington and Company Limited;
ACC/3527/265-266: Craiglands Hydro Limited;
ACC/3527/267: H. Cohen and Company Limited;
ACC/3527/268-365: Printed material;
ACC/3527/366-400: Menus;
ACC/3527/401-421A: Advertisements;
ACC/3527/422-455: Press cuttings;
ACC/3527/456-462: Scrapbooks;
ACC/3527/463-726: Photographs;
ACC/3527/727: Negatives;
ACC/3527/728-746: Films and videos;
ACC/3527/747-757: Cartoons;
ACC/3527/758-857: Pictures;
ACC/3527/858: Computer disk;
ACC/3527/859-869: 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:

Donated to the Archive in 1995, with an addition in 2007.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For related records, see ACC/3811, 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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