Esoteric London

No. 487: Downham Road, N1

Posted in Drink, Eating places, Food by esotericlondon on January 10, 2012

Downham Road, London, N1. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

London Labour and the London Poor; A Cyclopaedia of  The Condition and Earnings of Those That Will Work, Those That Cannot Work, and Those That Will Not Work, Volume I – Henry Mayhew, 1851:

The coffee-stall usually consists of a spring-barrow, with two, and occasionally four, wheels. Some are made up of tables, and some have a tressel and board. On the top of this are placed two or three, and sometimes four, large tin cans, holding upon an average five gallons each. Beneath each of these cans is a small iron fire-pot, perforated like a rushlight shade, and here charcoal is continually burning, so as to keep the coffee or tea, with which the cans are filled, hot throughout the early part of the morning. The board of the stall has mostly a compartment for bread and butter, cake, and ham sandwiches, and another for the coffee mugs. There is generally a small tub under each of the stalls, in which the mugs and saucers are washed. The “grandest” stall in this line is the one […] standing at the corner of Duke-street, Oxford-street […]. It is a large truck on four wheels, and painted a bright green. The cans are four in number, and of bright polished tin, mounted with brass-plates. There are compartments for bread and butter, sandwiches, and cake. It is lighted by three large oil lamps, with bright brass mountings, and covered in with an oil-cloth roof. The coffee-stalls, generally, are lighted by candle-lamps. Some coffee-stalls are covered over with tarpaulin, like a tent, and others screened from the sharp night or morning air by a clotheshorse covered with blankets, and drawn half round the stall.

[If you need another shot of coffee see post No. 410. R.D.]

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