A personal selection of books and articles
covering all aspects of cafe culture. Some are practical manuals,
others are novels or plays. On no account miss the Classic
Cafes book that accompanies this site - published December
Classic Cafes [Adrian
Maddox, Black Dog Publishing, 2003]
The Sunday Times... "Excellent" The Guardian... "Too
good to be true" Space... "wonderfully evocative"
The Independent... "Essential" Internet Magazine. Classic Cafes commemorates
an institution perilously close to vanishing without trace or
acclaim. Classic cafes are actually little gems of British vernacular
high street design. In an era of retro-kitsch, inert 'theme'
brasseries and fast-breeder US coffee-chains, they hark back
to a European dynamism that added colour to Britain's post war
social and commercial scene. Part sentimental journey, psychogeographic
incursion and alternative architectural gazetteer, the first
half of Classic Cafes presents a shadow social history showing
how London's cultural ascendancy in the 1960s began life in the
classic Formica cafes of the 1950s. The latter part goes in search
of the archetypal classic cafe, culminating in a gazetteer that
takes in many left intact as of 2003. Features extensive contemporary
large format architectural photos by Phil Nicholls (Melody
Maker, Blitz, Vogue, Uncut, Sunday
Times, The Independent...) and legendary NME
photographer Peter Anderson with many never-before-seen archive
pictures. Plus, comprehensive research sources covering related
books, journals, magazines, films, websites and much else...
Always a Welcome [David
Lawrence Between Books 2003]
Lawrence travelled 8000 miles around
the motorways of Britain in 1999 and even lived at one service
station for a week! The result: the
finest 'glove compartment history of the motorway service area'
ever. From garden sheds selling sandwiches at Watford Gap in
1959 to the latest retail developments, the book takes readers
into the very heart of these strange, unloved places. With a
foreword by Jonathan Glancey, this design, architecture and cultural
history is illustrated in full colour, using technicolour postcards
from the 1960s, through the brown and orange 1970s and cool beige
1980s to the present. A triumph.
Cafe [Cheryl A Aaron,
Printers Inc Press 1985] NEW
"Cafes are oases, crossroads, resting places... The East
End of London is full of these cafe oases, and the East End is
itself a oasis. It always was a refuge... people landed here
near the docks and they settled. This was as far as they were
going... They came to this East End to escape pogrom and poverty.
They had no choice. All were able to start again... Each new
wave helped create an amalgam of tolerance and their various
dreams and struggles permeate these pavements, these walls...
No-one needs to be a stranger in the streets and in the cafes
of Tower Hamlets... There is no high pretentious talk. Ideas
are confined to the commonplace, which is after all the noblest
area of existence...These cafes, these interiors, these faces
give you identity. Life is for real. It is all here, and that
is enough. You have no ambition to be anywhere else. You know
where you are." (from the introduction by Bernard Kops)
Googie Redux: Ultramodern
[Alan Hess 2004]
'A thoroughly revised and significantly
expanded edition of the popular 1980s original, Googie Redux
is the authoritative history of the mid-20th century icon that
ignited an architectural revolution: the coffee shop. Dismissed
as lowbrow stylistic folly in their heyday, in many ways they
were the realization of modern architecture's grand promises.
They were populist, employed new materials, and captured their
purpose, place, and culture as vividly as any great architectural
style. The original edition helped to spark a robust preservation
movement and kick-started the reappreciation of mid-century architecture
and design. This latest edition features extensive up-to-date
research and dozens of rarely seen and newly found photographs.'
The Good Cuppa Guide
[Jonathan Routh 1966]
The great gazetteer of its time... only two of the many establishments
listed survive some forty years later: Frank's near Olympia
and The Snack Bar in Brooks Mews.
Lime, Lemon and Sarsaparilla
[Colin Hughes 2003]
'Details the history of the Italian
Cafe-based community in Wales, a community closely related to
the London one being largely from Bedonia and Borgotaro (in the
valley of Val Taro) about 20 miles from Bardi. The book has a
great map of the Italian cafes in Wales... there are still at
least 18 Italian cafes in Pontypridd/Rhondda - which would be
a reasonable twelve mile driving tour.' (Republished by Seren
Books Nov 2003.)
London Belongs To Me
[Norman Collins 1945]
"All the characters in this novel are imaginary. The London
of the title is real enough - that's London all right. But Dulcimer
Street and the lives of the people in it, like the other lives
which cross with theirs, are all fictitious. And so are the various
Funlands, cafes, Sprititualist Societies, agencies, hospitals
and institutions, with which the story deals." What le Carre
did for spies, Collins does for shopgirls and nightwatchmen,
accountants and publicans: 'Real londoners who sleep the night
in London as well as work the day there. Real Londoners - some
in love - some in debt, some committing murders, some adultery,
some trying to get on in the world, some looking forward to a
pension, some getting drunk...' St Etienne dedicated their first
album to the book. (Collins was Director of the BBC, and invented
Coffee Bar Culture [Matthew
Partington / Ceramic Review Magazine Mar/Apr 2004]
In-depth coverage of these lost gems from the leading British
authority on the genre. Great illustration of the Moo Cow Milk
Bar 1954 in Victoria Street, London. (On no account miss Partington's
History Research Centre project 'Oral Testimony and the Interpretation
of the Crafts').
The Uses of Literacy
[Richard Hoggart 1957]
The British cultural critic - and co-founder
of the Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies - Richard Hoggart
celebrates the working-class culture of his childhood in the
Hunslett area of Leeds. At the same time he criticises 1950s
popular culture because it is: "full of corrupt brightness,
of improper appeals and moral evasions". He particularly
disliked milk bars, in which he believed he could detect: "a
sort of spiritual dry-rot amid the odour of boiled milk... The
hedonistic but passive barbarian who rides in a fifty-horse-power
bus for threepence, to see a five-million dollar film for one-and-eightpence,
is not simply a social oddity; he is a portent." Bravo,
'Cafe Society' [Charlotte
Du Cann, ES magazine Nov 1990]
Double page spread focusing on
Stefano's in Covent Garden; the now much altered Bonbonpierre
chain and the ever lovely Copper Grill. Notable for its championing
of caffs as cheap-eats oases in the midst of the last recession.
Whole article is proudly displayed on the wall of Stefano's.
A little place well worth checking out near the old college of
Cafes and Coffee Shops
[ed. Martin M. Pegler]
US publication covering the waterfront of - mostly - the newer
rash of 'Central Perk' style places. There is a rumour of another
US book in preparation devoted to America's old lounges by one
of the owners of LA's infamous AMOK bookstore. Sounds like a
Mood & Atmosphere
In Restaurants [Newell 1965]
Magnificent guide book for 60s
designers with great pix by one Michael Busselle.
Cafe & Milk Bar
Catering [Joan N Marks 1952]
Brilliant short history of the cafe in the 50s, great pix and
account of how to run a milk bar. Pure nostalgia.
A Catering Business
of your Own [E Turner 1967]
Another smashing how-to-guide.
The Good Cafe Guide
Occasional copies surface in junk shops but distribution is scant.
Updated every few years and sometimes an award certificate from
the authors is seen on cafe walls. Seems to be published infrequently
with the accent on cheapo food ratings. The author is reputed
to tour London on his bike picking out decent old caffs to list.
A noble enterprise.
Cafe Racers, rockers,
rock n'roll and the Coffee Bar Cult [Mike Kay 1988]
More about motorbike gangs of the
50s and 60s. But some cafe content and pix.
A View Of London [Edward
Sad atmospheric illustrations of
60s London in charcoal featuring the kinds of characters in a
cafe of the time. Grudging intro by Colin Wilson.
The London Nobody Knows
Daily Telegraph illustrator of the 60s who sketched many London
vignettes and illustrative essays. Several books in this series
appeared and one was even made into a sordid UK mondo movie hosted
by James Mason! Good on ambience and general seediness. "My
object is to encourage an appreciation of unlooked-for pleasures...to
create an enthusiasm for the neglected or undervalued, the freakish
Practical Milk Bar Operation
[E F Colam 1961]
Great lost title for the start-up
cafe merchant of the time.
In The Night Cafe [Joyce
The Lost Time Cafe [Elizabeth
The Black & White
[Harold Pinter 1969]
Unsettling monologue mumbled by
lone woman in a cafe. Though you can't tell from the text, the
place she is in is actually an old Fleet St eaterie well known
to Pinter in his youth called 'The Black & White.' A picture
of the place can be seen in a new publication from The Museum
of London called London Eats Out which also features nice
interiors from the old Lyons Tea Houses.
'Grease Proof' [Caroline
Stacey, Time Out, June 9-16 1993]
A rarity. One of the few articles
about cafes in a major publication. Double page feature spread
with limited round up of old London cafes and a poor montage
Lights Out For The Territory
[Iain Sinclair 1998]
"...reads the hidden language of the city like no other
writer. This book is what literature should be about: intensity
of language, humane wisdom and controlled anger...one of the
most remarkable books ever written on London"
Formica and Design [Susan
Grant Lewin 1991]
Many designs and a full history of the great all purpose covering.
Soho In The Fifties
Full account of the boho London scene of the time with many illustrations.
Good for background atmosphere on how the cafe scene developed
and the main players.
Adrift In Soho [Colin
"The comic, sad, blazingly
honest novel of a young man's search for experience among London's
eccentrics, beats and artists...the espresso bars, dingy dives,
the broken down tarts and actors, the virago landladies, the
unwashed sheets - so good is Mr Wilson's prose, one sees and
smells them all." A must. Re-issued by Braniac Books 1996
The French Cafe [Marie
Fine illustrated compendium of French cafes all over the country.
Britain vitally needs something similar. Photos to die for and
a bracing sense of pride in a glorious institution.
The bible of architecture and interiors of the 50s. A huge compendium
of all that is great and good from the time. Gives an amazing
insight into the optimism of the period and the materials and
construction popular at the time. A must have book. Huge bibliography
is also a vital resource.
Motels, Hotels, Restaurants
A US title published by Architectural Record and McGraw-Hill
in 1960. Vast overview of many types of interior and exterior
that have a cafe feeling. Truly these were the glory years of
American architecture. Every project is a gem. Why the styles
are not ripped off more today is beyond us.
Guide London [Brondum
Little art book which may be available
form Zwemmers containing an illustrated photo chapter on cafes
by one Firmin Moriarty! Basically a handful of polaroids with
no text or commentary but neatly done and featuring at least
half a dozen east and south east London cafes unknown to this
site but which look worthwhile from the pix.
Populuxe [Thomas Hine]
Another great look at the 50s US
culture of streamlined styling. Recently re-issued.
Billy Liar [Keith Waterhouse]
The great British novel of the
period. Required reading.
Ian Penman [The Face
#96 Apr 1988]
Feature about the concept of 'drabness'
at the heart of English life.
Mark Irving [Space:
Guardian Mar 2 2000]
Attack on 'theme' pubs and a plea
to protect the 'local' boozer. All points relevant to cafe lovers
Andrew Anthony [Observer
Life Mar 13 1994]
Brave defence of Broadstairs -
and lots of detail about the Morelli cappuccino milk bar.
Introduction to Modern
Architecture [J M Richards, Pelican 1959]
Smart little handbook with good b/w pix of top modern architectural
projects from the 'sixties and earlier. Good introduction.
Soft City [Jonathan
Raban, Fontana 1974]
"Historians, sociologists, architects and planners have
all tried to analyse (the) massive 'urban revolution.' But what
does it mean to the individual as he looks out of the window
of his flat, drifts on the street or rides in the crush of the
Day Out [D Jones &
G Richards, Abson 1980]
"The idea was that we two presenters would take it in turns
week by week to do exactly what so many people enjoy doing for
a nice day out - hopping into the car and finding somewhere interesting
slightly off the beaten track"
Nairn's London [Ian
Nairn, Penguin 1966]
"...an intensely subjective search for the really good things
in London, described with vehement passion which flies out from
a solid foundation of architectural knowledge. Anything visible
is included - churches, pubs, alleys boulevards, dock cranes
and suburban rhododendrons."
News of The World Better
Homes Book [Ed. Roger Smithells 195?]
Beautiful collection of domestic interiors graphics and preposterously
bossy text laying down the law on how to show off you 50s parlour
to maximum snob effect.
R D Russell & Marian
Peppler [Geffrye Museum 1983]
Two key 40s & 50s designers - full of amazing shop and domestic
design pictures. Exceedingly evocative tribute to a pair of great
modernist craft masters!
Putting On The Style
[S. MacDonald & J. Porter, Geffrye Museum 1990]
Style compendium of setting up home in the 1950s. Almost as essential
as 'Contemporary' and - once again - packed with amazing interiors
Fifties Style [Richard
Horn, Beech Tree Books 1985]
Another compendium of kitsch -
but some pleasing graphics.
Plastics Designs &
Materials [Sylvia Katz, MacMillan 1978]
The hard stuff!
Boring Postcards [Martin
This collection of New Town concourses, precincts and Motorway
stations is presented as a post-modernist joke. But the faded
hues of the pictures and jaunty post-war architecture somehow
pull at the heartstrings. Even the interiors of social clubs
and rest homes look rosily nostalgic set against today's legacy
of 80s toy-town mall architecture. Begs for a CD of accompanying
incidental background music.
London Eats Out [Museum
Based round the museum's 1999 exhibition
of the same name this features a couple of pages of cafe info
and assorted pictures of Lyon's Tea Houses.
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