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, Corner Houses 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 'FROOD' a revolutionary frozen cooked food process. The company is also famous for 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, and 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 1970's 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 operation and to change its name to Allied Domecq. The individual companies were sold off and Lyons head office was closed in 1995.
The records 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 the lithographs which were commissioned by the company after the second world war as a cheap way of brightening up Lyons Corner Houses.
This list, compiled by the Greater London Record Office, is a final list. For lists of the records compiled by the company itself, see ACC/3527/260-261. Lyons also compiled an 'infopack' (ACC/3527/263) which includes notes and photographs on the history of the company.
Publication is by specific permission of the Greater London Record Office.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Marketing and Advertising: General
Marketing and Advertising: Individual Companies
W. Symington and Company Limited
Craiglands Hydro Limited
H. Cohen and Company Limited
Printed: Staff Newsletters
Framed Items/Museum Exhibits