Chapter 27: Lunch Hours in post-war London

movietone posterEventually I was demobbed and went home.  I went back to Soho Square.  I was employed by British Movietonews at number 22.

Here I was in Soho with all its restaurants, pubs, continental grocers and greengrocers.  There was also Berwick Market in the days of the famous “Tosher” the Tie King.  There were also some notorious gangsters.

Tosher The Tie King

Tosher The Tie King

Historians recall what became known as the Battle of Frith Street which took place in 1955. In this battle, Jack Spot fought with Albert Dimes, a Soho bookie and loanshark, who was the enforcer of Billy Hill, Jack’s former partner. Both were seriously injured, the knife fight came to an abrupt end when the heavily built lady greengrocer, who ran the shop on the corner of Old Compton Street, clouted  Spot with a pair of weighing scales.

Jack Spot was not very well.

I used to walk down the streets of Soho peering in the windows of the grocers, the delicatessens and the continental butchers.  I did not know what half the stuff was. There were rolled meats, salamis, hams and sausages.  They were all a bit expensive for me then and, in any case, who in my family would be brave enough to try them ?

Soho streetOur parent company was Twentieth Century Fox who had an office building in the south-west corner of the square at number 31.  On the top floor they had a staff canteen and we in Movietonews were told that we could use it.

I gave it a try.  Just inside the door of the restaurant, there was a small ticket machine which showed that a meal ticket could be purchased for a shilling.  The problem was that the week before, this arrangement had ceased and it was now a shilling and threepence payable at the cash desk.

The food was good with good portions.  We had a choice each day of roast meats or cold meats with salads.  There were the usual vegetables.  We had a choice of pudding and tea and coffee was available.  I became a regular user of the canteen.

Further reading from Soho in the 1940s and Soho Revisited

Next chapter: Chapter 28: Lyon’s Corner House

© Terence Gallacher 2015.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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