Legacy: One Family, a Cup of Tea and the Company that Took on the World by Thomas Harding - review by Jerry White

Jerry White

They Cornered the Market

Legacy: One Family, a Cup of Tea and the Company that Took on the World

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William Heinemann 561pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

What put the Great into Great Britain during those tempestuous years of the 20th century when this country was fighting two of the bloodiest wars the world had ever seen? Well, pretty high up the list would be Lyons Corner Houses, Lyons teashops, Lyons cakes and fruit pies, Lyons Green and Red Label tea and Lyons Maid ice cream. The British marched on their stomachs and Lyons filled them for three generations. The company seemed so British, yet it was so European too: J Lyons & Co was the creation of Monte Gluckstein (1854–1922), the son of German-Jewish immigrants who had come to Britain via Holland and Belgium.

Monte’s father was Samuel Glückstein (the umlaut would soon be dropped in the face of uncomprehending Londoners). Sam was just twenty-two when he arrived in Whitechapel in 1843. In Antwerp he had been a street entertainer but in the East End he turned his nimble fingers to cigar-making,

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