The Lyons Teashops Lithographs

With one on almost every British High Street, Lyons Teashops were the Starbucks or Costa Coffee of their day.

Clifford Frith, Fun Fair, c.1946-7

Source: Towner Collection

Clifford Frith, The River Rother at Rye, 1955

The Lyons chain – which at its height numbered around 200 stores – opened in 1894 and the last one closed in 1981, having become icons of the British town centre.

Edward Ardizzone, Shopping in Mysore, c.1953-55

Source: Towner Collection

Edward Ardizzone, Shopping in Mysore, c.1953-55

Lyons always showed a commitment to interior design, with day with creative director Oliver P Bernard developing some forward-thinking Art Deco designs.

Edward Bawden, The Dolls at Home, 1947

Source: Towner Collection

Edward Bawden, The Dolls at Home, 1947

However, in the years after World War Two, the Lyons interiors were suffering a bit of a decline, which was compounded by a post-war lack of decorating materials.

George Hooper, Hotel Entrance, c. 1946-7

Source: Towner Collection

George Hooper, Hotel Entrance, c. 1946-7

To address this, Lyons commissioned some of the finest artists and print-makers of the time to create lithographs to be displayed in the shops – these had to be produced on a large-enough scale to conceal the faded Lyons décor.

L.S. Lowry, Industrial Scene, c.1946-7

Source: Towner Collection

L.S. Lowry, Industrial Scene, c.1946-7

Edward Bawden, LS Lowry, David Gentlemen and John Nash all created works for the series, which went on show in shops between 1946 and 1955.

Michael Ayrton, The Spectators, c.1949-51

Source: Towner Collection

Michael Ayrton, The Spectators, c.1949-51

A collection of the lithographs is being brought together for a new exhibition at Towner in Eastbourne, along with a selection of original paintings and working drawings.

Robin Darwin, The Fishmongers Shop, c.1949-51

Source: Towner Collection

Robin Darwin, The Fishmongers Shop, c.1949-51

The gallery says, ‘Together with the artistic innovations developed by London Underground, Shell-Mex, the General Post Office and others, the Lyons Teashop Lithographs established a distinctive post-war vernacular.’

Sam Rabin, Last Round, c.1953-55

Source: Towner Collection

Sam Rabin, Last Round, c.1953-55

The Lyons Teashops Lithographs: Art in a Time of Austerity, is at Towner, Devonshire Park, College Road, Eastbourne BN21, from 13 July-22 September.

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  • Mike Dempsey November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    If only Costa or Starbucks had the vision to embark on a 21st century version of this idea.

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