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Crosse and Blackwell

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Until the mid-17th century Soho was mainly open fields. Gradually, well-to-do houses were built, but by the 19th century the wealthy had moved west and Soho had become overcrowded and poor.

In the 19th century it was not unusual for large industrial buildings to be located in densely-packed residential areas. Edmund Crosse and Thomas Blackwell took over an existing pickle manufacturing firm in Soho in 1830. They relocated to new premises between Soho Square and Charing Cross Road in 1838.

Here they manufactured fruit preserves and other commodities. The buildings included kitchens, pickling vaults, offices, bottling and labelling rooms and warehouses. A brick cistern, originally for storing fresh water, was excavated and found to contain over 13,000 ceramic vessels, the largest group of ceramics found archaeologically in London. In 1921 the firm moved production from London to Branston in Staffordshire.

Print showing 20 and 21 Soho Square in 1854
Crosse and Blackwell moved into no. 21 in 1838 and began making fruit preserves from a factory at the back of the property in 1840. They took over no. 20 in 1858. © Museum of London
Crosse and Blackwell premises at 151-155 Charing Cross Road photographed in 1925
The Crosse and Blackwell premises at 151-155 Charing Cross Road, photographed in 1925. It was designed by Robert Lewis Roumieu and opened in 1885. © City of London