Office Index


Rare 1928 picture


Elevation drawing of Spike House

.Stock Department 1934.

Horsa glider cocktail lounge

Spike House

Many of the early ex-employees of Lyons would have started their careers in a building known as Spike House. It formed part of the Cadby Hall estate but was situated on the south side of Hammersmith Road, a little to the west of the new laboratory building and sandwiched between the Red Cow public house and Nazareth House Convent. Its official address was 161 Hammersmith Road and it was acquired by Lyons in about 1907. For many years it was an accounting centre where all the teashop receipts were processed in what was generally known as the Checking Department (originally formed in 1902).

Embedded in the front wall of Spike House was a stone on which were engraved the letters 'EL'. These letters stood for Edward Latymer, the son of the Dean of Peterborough, who was born in Ipswich during the reign of Mary. Edward Latymer is described in historical documents as A Clerk of the Court of Wards and Liveries. During his lifetime he acquired large amounts of land and when he died in 1626 he bequeathed his land to three Charity Trusts: for the use of the poor people of Edmonton; St Dunstan's in the West (Fleet Street); and Hammersmith. It is recorded that he bought the land on which Spike House stood in 1624 together with a house called Fairlawn now the site of Nazareth House Convent and originally the site of the Latymer Foundation School.

Spike House was built in about 1627 and for many years was leased to a variety of occupants. One of these was William Keene who leased the property in 1794 until his death in 1827. A year before his death the lease was taken over by Richard Spike and the house undoubtedly derives its name from him. After Richard Spike the next leaseholder was R. McEwan who took the lease for 21 years from 1868. He was followed in 1889 by James McMichael who remained in residence until his death in 1906.

When Lyons first occupied Spike House it became the Joinery Department having the benefit of a large yard at the year with access on to what is now Talgarth Road. The Joinery Department moved to Rannoch Road in 1927 and the property was then shared by three other departments: a repair shop for Normand Garage; the Linen Room and the Outdoor Catering Store. It is not known when these departments moved out but it became the Checking Department (later the Catering Office) who occupied it until early 1950s when the LEO computer took over some of the work. In 1948 a Horsa glider was positioned under the canteen in Spike House and fitted out to represent an airliner, with galley, restaurant and cocktail bar, and where stewardesses of BOAC and South American airlines were trained in the preparation of frozen food (Frood) manufactured by Lyons. The supervision of this work was carried out by Airwork Ltd. Although the design was not based on any particular plane, the capacity of the interior was that of a VIP Dakota. On entering the glider one stepped into the front cabin which formed a small cocktail lounge with seats for 12 people. They were upholstered in cherry red piped with turquoise blue. The walls were pale grey and short green curtains framed the windows. Thick red carpet covered the floor of the dining cabin and the seats here were dark blue leather and arranged in twos and fours around tables as in a railway dining car. From the galley at the far end, meals consisting solely of Frood dishes were prepared in microwave oven by an experienced chef and were then served by stewardesses. The galley was small but compact. The specially designed oven was made by G.E.C. and held 9 trays (three for the entree dishes, three for potatoes and three for other vegetables) sufficient to serve 24 passengers.

After the Checking Department vacated the building it housed the Typewriter Maintenance Department, was home to the Lyons Club, the Purchasing Department and no doubt many other departments or sub-departments. In the 1960s it became a stationery store and a Management Training Centre and in the 1980s was demolished to make way for a new office building (non Lyons).


 © Peter Bird 2005