J. Lyons & Co.
219 Despatch was the office and 'nerve centre' of the Departmental Despatch, and got its name from its telephone extension number. When the telephone extensions were re-allocated in 1950, following the installation of a new telephone exchange, it was decided to leave it unchanged because it was so familiar to many people both inside and outside the company. It was the proud boast of this department, like the telephone exchange itself, that it was manned 24 hours a day 365 days a year. It never closed.
The main job of the Departmental Despatch was the routine delivery of bakery and kitchen goods to the teashops and restaurants. Many of these items were perishable and had to be delivered as quickly as possible while as fresh as possible. Teashop vans were loaded with trays of goods which amounted to some 52,000 trays a week delivered to the teashops in 540 van runs. For the Corner House and restaurants a special fleet of vans operated an hourly service between 6 am and 8.15 pm (more frequently in the peak periods) in order to maintain a constant supply of fresh rolls.
If there was a breakdown in any of the factory production lines, then 219 Despatch would inform the Bakery Sales Office who in turn would warn the catering departments. If it was after office hours then 219 Despatch would contact them direct. The Bakery Sales Office worked hand in hand with 219 Despatch, receiving orders from the catering establishments, placing these orders on the factories and sending the charge notes down to 219 Despatch to await the arrival of the goods. 219 Despatch would also arrange the delivery of emergency goods if for some reason the original consignment had not arrived. They would arrange with the Transport Department for a van to come round and pick up the emergency order for quick delivery. Sometimes a van would break down in transit and it was necessary to send another to off-load the goods but the next call on his original route was urgently short of bread. In this case a taxi would be summoned to deliver the goods direct. The staff working in 219 Despatch had to be flexible and they had at their disposal a range of emergency procedures to handle most emergencies. One of the most frequent request came from the royal palaces who wanted just a dozen fresh rolls. A special van would deliver these post-haste. Calls would sometimes be received from the police if lights in a teashop had been inadvertently left on overnight. 219 Despatch would contact the appropriate person to arrange for them to be turned off. (Can you imagine this happening in the twenty-first century).
Lyons vans in the yard.
Loading teashop vans.
219 Despatch, 1951