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Antique Silverplate J. Lyons Engine Turned Round Drinks Tray

Antique Silverplate J. Lyons Engine Turned Round Drinks Tray


"Always the Best"
 ~ Joseph Lyons


Found at market in England, a collection of handsome round drinks trays are at your service produced exclusively for use in Britain's renowned J. Lyons & Co tea rooms and Corner House restaurants.

The trays were made in Sheffield by Britain's revered Gladwin, Ltd. silversmiths and have the confident weight of quality hotel silver.  The top surface of the tray is detailed with a lovely, swirling "engine-turned" pattern which was done to prevent glassware from sliding and has the added benefit of hiding inevitable surface scratches.

Having once served proudly in the bustling J. Lyons & Co. empire, the trays will be an historic addition to any home bar or buffet, pleased to be always your service and "Always the Best".

Trays sold individually. Strictly limited quantities (at listing, a total of 7 trays are available) and subject to prior sale. 10.5" in diameter. Trays are all in very good condition with only gentle signs of age and use.

Learn More About J. Lyons & Co. Ltd.

First established at the end of the nineteenth century by four entrepreneurs (Isidore and Montague Gluckstein, Barnett Salmon and Joseph Lyons), J. Lyons & Co. became one of the largest catering and food manufacturing companies in the world. From modest beginnings as supplier of catering to the Newcastle Exhibition (UK), in 1887, the new firm rapidly expanded to become a food empire which, at its height, was the largest in Europe. In the process Lyons became a household name and the ‘Joe Lyons’ Corner Houses and teashops, with their ‘Nippy’ waitresses, caught the public imagination and passed into history.

The first of the Lyons teashops opened at 213 Piccadilly in 1894 (it’s still a cafe, now called Ponti’s and you can still see the original stucco ceiling of the Lyons teashop). Soon there were more than 250 white and gold fronted teashops occupying prestigious locations on many of London’s high streets. Food and drink prices were the same in each teashop irrespective of location and the tea was always the best available – although the proprietary Lyons blend was never sold or made available to the public.

The first Lyons Corner House was opened on Coventry Street in 1909. The Corner Houses were much larger than the tea rooms with a greater appeal to the middle classes. Live bands and an informal atmosphere helped to cement their popularity. The Coventry Street location became the Lyons flagship outlet and seated 2,000 diners on multiple floors. At the time, it was the largest restaurant in the world. A second Corner House location, capable of seating 1,200 diners was opened at the Strand in 1915.

It wasn't long before the company was operating hotels, laundries, tea estates in Malawi, meat pie companies, ice-cream companies, tea and coffee companies, jam and soft drink factories and confectionery manufacturing. No surprise that Lyons was the first company to to introduce frozen food to the British public. Never afraid to diversify, during the Second World War they managed one of the largest bomb-making facilities in the UK. They packed millions of rations for troops fighting in Asia and other parts of the world and bequeathed one of their teashops to the American personnel stationed at Grosvenor Square.

After the war, the company embarked on a rebuilding program expanding their operations into Europe and America as well as large projects at home. They acquired the Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream company as well as Dunkin Donuts. Large new bakeries and meat pie factories were built while several smaller ice-cream companies were acquired to increase market share against their competitors. After the war, many city centers were redeveloped and Lyons took advantage of building new hotels including the Regent Palace Hotel and the prestigious Tower Hotel next to the Tower of London.

The company’s fall came as fast its original rise. In the time-honored way it overstretched on its borrowings during the early-seventies and the oil crisis. In 1978 Allied Breweries made an offer for the company which was accepted and Lyons lost its independence. It survived for a few years under new management but eventually its component parts were gradually sold off. Lyons had survived for over 100 years. During this whole period it never changed its name, operating proudly from 1887 until 1998 as J. Lyons and Company.

*J. Lyons & Co history adapted from and courtesy of "The Rise and Fall of the Lyons' Corner Houses and Their Nippy Waitresses" by Rob Baker for www.flashbak.com

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