Department Index

Learning the correct tray arrangement.

Dressmaking Dept. Photo 1952

Kitchen equipment. Photo 1951

Training in Bill preparation. Photo 1939

Window display. Photo 1951


Orchard House

The Orchard House office served the Teashop Department, which at its peak employed some 10,000 people employed in 200-250 teashops throughout the country. The office was the largest of the clerical departments outside of Cadby Hall employing at its peak about 350 staff. It was on the corner of Oxford Street and Orchard Street, a few hundred yards from Marble Arch, and the company occupied the third, fourth and fifth floors of the building. They first took occupation in 1930 and prior to this the Shaftsbury Avenue Maison Lyons (opened 1915) was the teashops headquarters. The engaging and training of staff was one of the main jobs of the Teashop Department at Orchard House. The bulk of the engaging for the teashops was done by the Applications Office. Although applicants could be engaged on the spot by each manageress, all the personnel work was carried out at Orchard House. New staff were taught how to do the various teashop jobs in the Training Centre, which was specially equipped so that they were trained in an atmosphere as much like a teashop as possible. There was a Cashier's Room, where pupils were taught how to master the intricacies of the cash takings slip, and how to ring up and give correct change. In the Front Shop room trainees were taught with a replica teashop window, with dummy goods, how to arrange the window display to attract attention. There was also a Teashop Kitchen and a Help-Yourself Counter which taught trainees how to dismantle and clean the components. All uniforms for teashop staff were made by the Dressmaking Department and in nearly every case the first uniform or overall was ready before the trainee left Orchard House for his/her teashop. Uniforms and dresses were also made here for the staff of the Corner Houses and for any special functions such as the Royal Garden Parties, Wimbledon, etc.

There were four groups of people involved in running Orchard House, all composed of supervisors who had served in the teashops and were regarded as specialists in their particular field. There was the Food Group, responsible for promoting the sale of foodstuffs, for the handling of food and the drawing up of tariffs, and for general liaison with the Cadby Hall Kitchens and Bakery departments and the Provincial Bakeries. The approval of the directors had to be obtained before any new dishes were included, or left off, the tariff. The Equipment Group were responsible for the installation of services and new equipment in the teashops or the Orchard House training equipment. The Research Group handled mechanical experiments with the object of saving time and space in a teashop, where both were always limited; for example a milk pourer was devised which fitted over four cups so that in one operation each cup was filled with the correct quantity of milk. This group also planned seating accommodation, and worked out how goods could be best displayed on the Help-Yourself-Counter both to save the customer's time and to get them through quicker. The Administration dealt with all queries and emergencies which arose in the teashops and for which manageresses needed help. During and after the Second World War teashop allocations of rationed goods were also worked out at Orchard House, as were the arrangements for catering of large parties. The welfare and health of the staff were well provided for in the Clinic and Welfare Office. A doctor and trained nurse was always in attendance and, on the welfare side, trained assistants were available to advise and help whenever needed.

Most of the teashop staff were engaged at Orchard House and it was there they would go should they leave the company. It was desirable therefore to maintain here, the staff records and wage particulars of the employees concerned. In addition, since the Teashop Management had their offices in the West End, it was the obligation of the office to provide them with various office services without which, a large department could not function efficiently.

One of the main jobs was the calculation of teashop staff wages and the preparation of authorities for their payment out of the takings from the shops. For this purpose, a Powers Samas automatic punched card system was installed (1949), the only such equipment in use in the Group. These machines printed attendance sheets in duplicate which were sent to the shops where manageresses entered daily attendance details of staff. From these the wages clerks extended the various payments to be made in respect of the attendance shown and calculated the gross/net wages due. Documents were then sent to the manageresses authorising them to pay out the wages shown, from the shops' takings. This all changed in 1954/55 when the LEO I computer took over the task of payroll and the clerks were reduced in number and re-located to Cadby Hall.

The records for all teashop staff up to and including the rank of manageress were kept by the clerks of the payroll section who were responsible for ensuring that employees were engaged at the correct rate of pay, that wage increases authorities were originated when due, and that references were taken up and given. Other duties included the compilation of holiday lists and authorisation of holiday payments when due, and the origination of lists of teashop employees entitled to various privileges for long service. The Section was also responsible for controlling staff deductions, the stamping of National Insurance cards, the application for railway passes for cheap travel for teashop employees, and issuing of Lyons Club membership cards.

In the General Section the clerks were responsible for the miscellaneous work of the office. They dealt with the summarisation and dissection of wages and controlled pension fund contributions, staff loans, and National Savings. The Statistical Group prepared labour turnover and other figures for management, enabling them to determine labour and wage policies. The Teashop Treasury was part of this Group. The Copying Group was a miniature printing works which could turn out printed material for the teashops at a moments notice.

There was also an office for controlling teashop reports which were received daily and varied in content. It was the job of May King to decide which director(s) would be interested in their content. The job had to be done as quickly as possible as any delay could result in how a customer's complaint was handled. There were several thousand reports over the period of a month and all had to be dealt with. The report typists were often confused with some of the teashop report jargon like what was a 'long Tom' (a metal tube containing ice, which was put into milk churns to keep the milk cool) or what was a 'donkey rack' (a rack for dishes or food).

In January 1963 the Teashops Department became part of the newly-formed Catering Division. A vast modernisation programme had begun aimed at giving teashop and restaurants a new look. Decentralisation was an important element in the thinking behind the formation of the Catering Division. Teashops were grouped together with other catering establishments in autonomous regional units. From being the headquarters of teashops only, Orchard House was designated the headquarters of the Catering Division as a whole. Although many of the departments which previously worked there had already moved out to their own regional offices other moved in and one of these was London Steak Houses Ltd. A section remained at Orchard House for managerial and supervisory training and this was run by Miss D. Winston and Miss P. Clancy. Miss Winston was concerned with the training of assistant manageresses for teashops and Miss Clancy was responsible for the training of superintendents and waitresses for the Corner Houses. In November 1967 the training centre at Orchard House moved to new premises at 93 Newman Street, London. The training centre was on the first floor of the building in which London Steak Houses once occupied the fourth floor. The premises had four lecture rooms, a projection room for showing company films, staff offices and a training officers' room. Some of the rooms were air-conditioned. The new facilities were designed for administration courses for Steak House and Corner House management trainees. There was a medical department on the same floor with a well-equipped dispensary.

In 1969 The Jolyon Restaurants began to appear and this was the decline of the teashop era. A change of name and decor did not revitalise the magic of the teashops of pre-war days and the Jolyon Restaurants were short-lived and closed

© Peter Bird 2005