Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2 [updated]

Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2

It may be long closed, but the frontage of these old Tea Rooms in central London is still (just about) hanging on to life.

Situated close to the British Museum at 11, Museum Street, London WC2., the cafe opened in 1960 and closed some 40-odd years later, with the building remaining empty ever since.

Once frequented by the likes of Diana Rigg, Bamber Gascoigne, Patrick Moore and George & Gilbert, the cafe was run by a husband and wife team.

After the the husband died, his widow continued the business – with her customers “helping with her bereavement” – and the cafe closed for good when she retired.

These two photos from niznoz document the decline of the tea room during the mid 2000s.

Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2

In this April 2003 view the cafe appears to have just closed, with tea cloths covering the urn and surfaces inside. Note the different sign above the shop and the boutique next door.

Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2

By January 2005, the shop is boarded up, and the sign has gathered an extra layer of dust. The battered Coca Cola  sign remains and the central top window has been partially boarded up.

Although I like to think of myself as something of a cafe aficionado (I’m still lamenting the loss of the New Piccadilly cafe!) I never made it to this one.

Did any of you lot out there ever visit the place? Please write in if so!

Update: here’s a film of the cafe in action. It’s rather sad.

Update 2: some photos from 2001

Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2

Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2

Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2

Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2

[Thanks to niznoz and Spudsonic for Flickr pics]

[Google map link]

6 Comments on “Old Tea Rooms, Museum Street, London WC2 [updated]”

  1. used this cafe about 10 years ago ,when renee the lady was on her own ,such a lovely lady,i use to love the banter with her ,so sad its closed

  2. I went in once in the late 90s out of curiosity (I walked from Tottenham Court Road station to my office in High Holborn) and because I loved the beautiful signage ….. It seemed to be the caff of choice for the local bin men who were all eating ham rolls at 7.00 a.m. Lunch? Had a toasted bacon sandwich which elicited some grumbles when I asked for it, took ages to prepare, but it was beautifully done when it did arrive. Very sad but lovely short film.

  3. Up to the mid-1990s, a Spanish-speaking, friendly Central American family (Ecuadorian-cum-Guatemalan) with a couple of children used to live above the tea rooms where they helped out, but moved out on the boarding-up of the building and adjoining yard. Quite a few of us British patrons, being served at the counter, enjoyed practising our (Latin-American) Spanish on them, whilst they of course went down well with Spanish-speaking tourists and visitors to the British Museum.

  4. Hi! This was my great grandmother’s tea rooms. She ran it from the 1930s to 1960 when she sold it to the Corsinis. I have a picture of it from 1941 (where you can see the original sign looking tidier! ) if you would like it for the blog. (I realise this was written a while ago but it’s worth a try!)

    1. That is a fascinating bit of history Emma. This was my favourite cafe, from a teenager in 1974 on and off over the years until it closed. Gino’s ‘cheese and french’ bread was my staple, along with the best (strongest) cup of tea in the capital, Happy days. Posso a copy of the picture?

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