Saturday, 28 February 2009

A ghostly storefront and a guided tour


Work on the front of an empty shop in Fleet Street has exposed these ghostly traces. The sign read 'Aerated Bread Co', a company whose name referred to the bread they sold. (It was baked by the aerated, or carbonic acid gas, method.) However, the company is better known for its tea rooms, later the ABC Tearooms. The first one - indeed, the very first tea room - opened in 1864, and these establishments changed many women's lives by giving them a public place where they could respectably meet unchaperoned. The company continued trading until the 1980s; the site of its former bakery in Camden Town is now occupied by a Sainsbury's.

I saw the shop on my way to the Museum of London, for a tour of the Roman galleries with the Celebrate London! meetup group. The museum is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, so many of the galleries are closed, but the prehistoric, Roman and mediaeval sections are open and well worth a visit. Having a guide really enhanced the experience, and it was fascinating to see key exhibits such as a pot of face cream. Roman cosmetic pots may be fairly common, but this one was exceptional because it still contained the cream - and thanks to being sealed and underwater, the contents had remained moist and even showed the fingermarks of the last person to use it. Another ghostly trace of the past...

2 comments:

Peter Ashley said...

You've reminded me that Edward Thomas has written of finding a Roman tile with a child's footprint on it. I think it was in The South Country.

Steve Dempsey said...

The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy, serialised as The Tearoom Detective on BBC radio is set in an ABC tearoom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Old_Man_in_the_Corner

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...