Served up by the impressively titled ‘Special Features Division of the Rank Organisation’ is this fascinating look at London’s coffee bars in the 1950s and 1960s.
The coffee bar boom in Britain started in 1952 with the arrival of the first espresso machine in Soho, central London, and the awfully stilted commentary tracks the subsequent growth of coffee bars across the capital.
There’s an excellent clip of a jiving crowd filmed at the famous 2i’s Coffee bar, which was situated in the basement of 59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London, England, between 1956 and 1967,
Artists who played this bar included Tommy Steele, Cliff Richard, Hank Marvin, Wee Willie Harris, Joe Brown, Screaming Lord Sutch, Johnny Kidd, Jet Harris, Ritchie Blackmore, Mickie Most, Big Jim Sullivan and, err, Gary Glitter (Paul Gadd).
There’s also some fabulously unconvincing footage of writers, actors and film directors hanging out in cafes, and there sure seems to be a lot of folks in sunglasses lurking indoors too.
Naturally, there’s plenty of cigarettes being smoked throughout the clip, although most of the coffee cups on view curiously seem empty.
Check out the eight minute video below:
Oh, and please note: being a YouTube clip about Britain’s past, you can expect to find the usual depressing racist shit in their comments section, with a farrago of morons banging on about foreigners, blacks, falling standards and the never-ending evils of socialism. Best avoided, really.
14 Comments on “London’s coffee bars in the 1950s and 1960s – archive video footage”
Does anyone else remember a coffee bar in the Haymarket with a water cascade flowing down coloured perspex sheets?
The best coffee house ever! I can still feel the water sprinkling me as I sat practically under the fountain.
Yes I do. My dad worked at Burberrys and he took me there for lunch (wonderful egg mayo sandwiches) next to the water slide. I seem to remember big plants too. Any photos available on Internet ?
It was called the the coffee house I met my late wife there in March 1959 I remember that fountain as if it was yesterday.
Think it was the one where avant garde young men used to serve in rather alluring make-up. It had a good selection of ‘different’ salads at a serve yourself section.
Re the coloured perspex sheets- my father designed them plus interiors of 3 other coffee houses in the 1950s. His name was antoine Acket.
Your father gave me some of the best moments of my life. I can still feel the water sprinkling me as I sat next to the fountain.
Carla, do you know where I can find a photo or photos of the Haymarket interior?
can anyone remember the coffee bar in the Granville arcade Brixton coldharbour lane it was the first one to open in Brixton its said that tommy steel the singer use to hang about in there
1960s London Gees coffee bar drank about 5 cups then went to a club Middle earth Covent Garden.
Does anybody know the names of the Proprietors of Rosa’s cafe in Hanbury street in the 1960s? I would be so grateful as I need them for verisimilitude in a novel I am writing. Thanks.