Crossrail dig unearths 13,000 Victorian jam jars



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Marmalade potImage copyright Crossrail
Image caption Marmalade was one of the condiments produced in the factory by Crosse & Blackwell

Thousands of Victorian jam jars and pickle pots have been discovered beneath a former nightclub during the building of Crossrail, it has emerged.

The Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) found more than 13,000 pots in an old vault at the site of the new Elizabeth line station in Tottenham Court Road.

The space beneath the old Astoria nightclub had been used as a dumping ground by Crosse & Blackwell, which had a large factory on the site until 1921.

MOLA said the find was “remarkable”.

The items, including bottles of Mushroom Catsup, Piccalilli pots and and jars for jam and marmalade, were found in a large cistern beneath the former warehouse.

Image caption Mushroom Catsup was popular with Victorians

MOLA archaeologist Nigel Jeffries said the cistern would have been used to power steam engines to run the factory, but had been taken out of use when the building was redesigned in the 1870s.

It had then been used as a landfill site for the pots.

The findings from the dig in summer 2010 have been revealed in a new book: “Crosse & Blackwell 1830-1921: A British Food Manufacturer in London’s West End”.

Mr Jeffries said the discovery had helped archaeologists learn more about “the tastes and palates of the Victorians”.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The jars had been dumped in a cistern
Image copyright Crossrail
Image caption Crosse & Blackwell was one of the first companies to receive a Royal Warrant

Crosse & Blackwell was based in the Soho area between 1830 and 1921.

One journalist wrote at the time the factory produced “a very distinctive pungency to the surrounding atmosphere”.

The warehouse was turned into a cinema in 1927, before becoming a nightclub in 1976.

It was demolished in 2011 to make way for Crossrail, which will link 40 stations through London and the south east, between Reading and Shenfield.

It is due to open in December 2018.

Image copyright Crossrail
Image caption These decorative jars were used to sell preserved ginger



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