Victorian London - Directories - Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879 - "Coffee Taverns"

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Coffee Taverns.—Five years ago a company, of which Lord Shaftesbury was president, made the first attempt on a large scale to give the lower section of the inhabitants of London a chance of escape from the public-house. The object of this company was to establish attractive places of refreshment in the "more densely peopled parts of London, and elsewhere, to serve as a counter-attraction to the public-house and gin palace." It would appear, from the interesting brockure by Mr. Hepple Hall, that the enterprise for some reason or another did not succeed so well as its promoters expected, and the houses opened under the auspices of the company have since been leased to Mr. McDougall, in whose hands they seem to making satisfactory progress. In 1877 the Coffee Public House Association was organised under the presidency of the Duke of Westminster. The central agency of the association is at 40, Charing-cross. Again, to quote Mr. Hall, "adequate provision for the wants of the population of London alone requires that coffee public- houses should be numbered, not by tens or scores, but by hundreds. It is the business of the association: 1. To ascertain the localities in which Coffee Publics can be most aptly planted, and the character of the structure and fittings best suited to each locality. 2. To investigate the schemes submitted to it by those who desire its help and the claim which each scheme has upon it. 3. To make the necessary advances upon the most expedient terms, and whenever the conditions of success are sufficiently assured" It will be seen that the last-mentioned clause distinguishes this society from any other of its class. It is a promoter and encourager of coffee taverns, not a trader in them. That some such organisation was a necessity of the times may be gathered from the fact that in the United Kingdom the number of houses now open for this business is nearly 3,000, under the control of nearly 8o companies.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879