Trendy coffee bars & US chains have helped towards the gradual decline of the English Cafe culture..............London's "greasy spoon" cafes are disappearing at the rate of one a month while the number of branded coffeeshops like Starbucks have trebled in recent years even though their drinks are usually double the price. Also the continued increase in JD Wetherspoon pubs which offer a decent breakfast for £3 has not helped the small cafe trade. Whilst I have partaken in many a Wetherspoon breakfast myself I do still prefer to check out the smaller cafes and the local characters who eat in them ( the latest for my fave breakfast is the Regency Cafe near Victoria).
Some of the pictures below are a few years old by now though some recent ones have been mixed in here as well. As always I shall continue to add new pictures over the next few weeks/months/years.
BLACKFRIARS - BON APPETIT CAFE
Closed a few years ago, fenced off and surrounded by construction work for the Blackfriars Station redevelopment. Now the Station is complete the cafe site is now accessible though this dusty slightly forlorn place looks out of place next to the modern new Blackfriars Station. Only a matter of time before it becomes something else due to its prime position. Maybe another cafe but more than likely a chain. Star*ucks anyone?
SILVERTOWN - Georges Diner
Allegedly serving up the best fry-ups and home-made steak and kidney pies for miles around, and run by Brian (not George), the clientele here was a great mixture of builders, lorry drivers and Canary Wharf suits. Other attractions included showers for the drivers, cracked plastic chairs, and copies of the Sun and Truckers Weekly.
Georges Diner – they never got round to putting an apostrophe in the sign – closed down in 2005 to make way for the new Silvertown Quays development (still pending).
Tony Jauncey writes to Derelict London: "From 1970 to 1973 I work as a sub contractor with my Dads firm in Crosse and Blackwalls in Silvertown. The food in the canteen was not too bad but we always chose George's out of preference. The first time I went into Georges I was amazed that the family that run it were so small, the average height of men and women was about 5ft 2. Brian was Georges son and as you say, the food was superb. I can honestly say that I have never had a better breakfast since, the place should have been listed. Sadly the guts have been ripped out of the East End, but your site brings back many happy memories"
HOLBORN - The Tea Rooms
Shortly after the Tea Rooms in Holborn closed for business a sign appeared in the window that read: ‘The Tea Rooms has now closed after 44 years of happy trading. I would like to thank all of my customers who showed their loyal support throughout the years. I will miss you all dearly. God Bless. Mrs Reni Corsini’. Now a few years later the shop looks more and more dilapidated. I wonder where Mrs Corsini is these days...
GREENWICH - Sandwich House
Mark Johnson writes to Derelict London: " I remember the Sandwich House in Greenwich always seemed to be open: me and my fellow university students used to go there after a night out - only place in london I reckon you could get a gingerbread man at 11 in the evening!"
RICHMOND - Matthiae Cafe
This was a once-bustling business with a classic blue and silver Art Deco shop front and matching interiors, which recently earned the building grade II-listed status. Reg Matthiae opened the venture as a bakery in 1920 and subsequently expanded the business to include a café, restaurant and catering service.
The building boasts several attractive features, including a glass ceiling in the shop – a cause for concern during the Blitz when any serious vibration could have brought it down on top of staff and customers. As if to compensate for this, the staircase that leads to the first floor is so solidly built that it served as an air raid shelter. Upstairs there is a banquet room, and, on the top floor, an Art Deco ballroom.
The family business closed in 2001 after 80 years. The building has been empty ever since and has suffered from a lack of general maintenance although building work is now underway for conversion into flats. A few sad looking old wedding cake decorations covered in dust remained visible in the window until recently.