Historic coffee stall that has served up cuppas for 100 years closes for good12/20/2019
The holidays are around the corner, but if you’re not feeling festive yet, let us introduce you to a Christmas miracle that will fill your heart with joy.
If you spend a lot of time in Shoreditch, it’s very likely that you’ve at one point or another walked past Syd’s Coffee Stall.
The 100-year-old shack has been serving up drinks and snacks to grumpy Londoners passing through Calvert street on their way to work since 1919, and has been owned by the same family, going on three generations, for the past century.
Unfortunately, as of today, this historic gem has closed down for good, as owner Jane Tothill has decided it’s ‘time to move on’.
Considered a local treasure, Syd’s stand has a lovely history.
The stall was originally opened by Sydney Edward Tothill, a World War One veteran who used his invalidity pension (a grand total of £117) to commission a coach-builder to create the unique construction from mahogany.
And it features an impressive amount of detail with etched glass, brass fittings and wheels – and yes, the wheels do work.
Syd’s stall has stood the test of time; withstanding the Blitz, when Syd and his wife May were granted a special license to serve air raid wardens during blackouts.
It wasn’t just a place to grab a ‘camp coffee’ (brown liquid made with coffee beans, chicory and sugar), which is what was on the menu back then, or a saveloy sausage with bread and mustard.
People cherished the caterer so much that when May was hurt during an explosion, Syd’s son was sent back from an overseas RAF mission so that he could help his father run the stall.
To this day, Syd’s stand is also the only caterer to have served punters customers on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Recognising the popularity of the business, Syd’s son, also named Syd, eventually expanded it by starting a catering company, called Hillary Caterers, dubbed after New Zealand mountaineer, Sir Edmund Hillary.
But wait… we promised you a Christmas miracle, didn’t we?
Those worried that the stall will be demolished or that this piece of history will be soon forgotten can rest easy.
It has just been announced that Syd’s stall has been snapped up by The Museum of London, with the curator of social and working history at the museum’s saying it is ‘an invaluable piece of our shared history as Londoners’.
The last cuppa however, has been served.
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