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J. Lyons & Co.


The Salmon and Gluckstein families, who funded the start of the business, dominated the directorships of the company from 1887 when it was first incorporated. This first catering company was dissolved and another, of the same name, was registered in 1889. It was not until 1894 that J. Lyons & Co. Ltd was registered as a limited company with shares available to the public. All three companies were totally controlled by the Salmon and Gluckstein 'family'. When the original directors died their children continued to hold all the senior positions. It was a nepotistic style of management which remained unyielding right up until the 1980s and in part was one of the factors which led to the company's decline. Apart from Joseph Lyons and Len Badham (in 1977) no person, other than a Gluckstein or Salmon, held the Managing or Chief Executive Directorship. There were a few 'Employee Directors', appointed only on favour, but they had little influence on real decision making which was exclusively the entitlement of 'Family Directors' only. Their control of the company was achieved by the careful distribution of voting shares which were allocated in their favour. The first directors of the 1894 J. Lyons & Co Ltd were as follows:

Isidore Gluckstein*, born 13 August 1851. He was the oldest son of Samuel Gluckstein and Hannah Joseph (he had four older sisters) and with his brother, Montague, took over the family tobacco interests of Salmon & Gluckstein when his father died in 1873. He was the accounting genius behind the Lyons company providing financial guidance to the other directors particularly to his brother Montague. He was self taught and had no formal accounting training or qualifications. He was privately educated at Hartog's Academy in Camden, London, and later at the Whitechapel Foundation School. He married Rose Cohen, a distant relative of Joseph Lyons, on 21 June 1876, and they had seven children: Hannah (1877), Barnett (1879), Samuel (1880), Lena (1882), Julia (1885), Montague(1886)* and Matilda who died at 8 years. Four of these married their first cousins. Isidore died on 10 December 1920 at the Grand Hotel Eastbourne. He was buried at Willesden Cemetery, London ,on 12 December 1920, and 1,000 staff attended the funeral.

Montague Gluckstein*, born 18 July 1854, was the second son of Samuel Gluckstein and younger brother of Isidore Gluckstein. He became the Chairman of J. Lyons & Co Ltd after Joseph Lyons died in 1917. He was a brilliant businessman and architect of the firm's early growth from a mere catering company to the largest food producer in Europe. Frequently referred to as 'Monte' his name would be perpetuated through many generations of the family making it difficult for genealogists to build histories. Like his brother he was privately educated at Hartog's Academy and later at the Whitechapel Foundation School. It was Montague's idea to branch out of cigarette and cigar manufacturing and to diversify into catering. It took much persuasion before he could convince his family to invest. A handsome man, he married Matilda Franks on 6 February 1884. They had three children, Samuel (1884)*, Isidore (1890)* and Emma (1893). Two married first cousins. He died on 7 October 1922.

Sir Joseph Lyons, born 29 December 1847. His father was a picture dealer and his mother the daughter of a commercial traveller. Joseph Lyons was a talented water-colour artist and sold many of his paintings to important people of the period. He was also an apprentice optician but it was while he was running a stall at the Liverpool Exhibition in about 1887 that he was first approached by Montague Gluckstein to join him and others in the new catering venture. The Glucksteins realised that he had a great deal of experience in dealing with exhibition authorities which they felt he could put to good effect. He was made Chairman of J. Lyons & Co. in 1887, after having agreed to put his name to the company, a post he held until 1917. He married Sarah Psyche Cohen on 24 August 1881. She was the daughter of a stage comedian who eventually became the manager of the Pavilion Theatre, Whitechapel, London. Her mother too came from a theatrical background and was herself a stage actress. As a teenager Joseph Lyons wrote short plays and sold them to the theatregoers at the Pavilion Theatre where he obviously met Sarah. Joseph Lyons was knighted in 1911 and was a Deputy Lieutenant of London. There was no issue from the marriage and Joseph Lyons died of Bright's Disease at the Hyde Park Hotel on 22 June 1917.

Barnett Salmon was the son of Aaron Solomons (he assumed the name of Sloman) and Jane Barnett Simmons and was born on 24 May 1829. He became a tobacco salesman and it was in this capacity that he met Samuel Gluckstein (Isidore's and Montague's father), who was also a tobacco salesman. Their friendship flourished after Barnett Salmon married Samuel Gluckstein's daughter, Helena, on 24 June 1863. She was 17 years younger than Barnett but bore him nine sons and six daughters although six died in infancy from scarlet fever. Little is known of his early life but many of the subsequent descendants from this branch of the family would play active roles in the story of Lyons. Barnett Salmon died on 11 February 1897 just ten years after the Lyons business was formed and did not live to see how it flourished. Although Barnett Salmon was one of the founding members of J. Lyons & Company, and was a director of the 1887 and 1889 companies, he was not a director of the 1894 J. Lyons company. One of Barnett Salmon's grandchildren (Cyril Salmon) was a very successful judge and became Lord of Appeal between 1972 - 80.

Joseph Browne Martin (1835 - 1926) - Very little is known of this director who first appears in 1894 Shareholder Reports. He was born in 1835 and died on 20 January 1926. His business occupation was described as 'Gentleman'. Although he was a director between 1894-1925 he was not involved in the day-today operations of the company but was thought to have been a major shareholder. He was Chairman of R. Bell & Co., London, one of England's best known match manufacturers which existed from 1832-1921. Browne Martin was Chairman from the late nineteenth century until the First World War (approximately). He was responsible for a number of Bell factories in Australia and New Zealand in 1895 and was responsible for arranging the merger with Bryant & May in 1909/10.

Edwin Levy (1840 - 1895) was born on 29 August 1840 and died during the first year office on 26 February 1895. He died of a heart condition and Isidore Gluckstein was present at the death which occurred at, 32 Compayne Gardens, West Hampstead. He was 65 years old and on his death certificate his occupation is listed as 'of independent means'. His vacancy on the board was taken by Alfred Salmon. It is not known how he became a director but is believed to have been a major shareholder. He did not involve himself with the day-to-day operations of the company.

Alfred Salmon (1868 - 1928), the eldest son of Barnett Salmon, was born on 20 July 1868. Like all the family he did not receive any university or formal education/training but was put to work in the kitchens of the Trocadero Restaurant where he 'learned the trade'. He married Frances Abrahams on 14 November 1894 and they had three children: Barnett (1895), Felix (1908) and Ivor (1911). Felix and Ivor both became Lyons directors. Alfred Salmon died on 11 October 1928 as Managing Director. One of his grandchildren, Vanessa Salmon, married Nigel Lawson who became Chancellor of the Exchequer in Margaret Thatcher's government. The marriage was dissolved.

*Became a director of Lyons.


Chairmen (they were all men) of

J. Lyons & Co Ltd:


1894 - 1917 Joseph Lyons (Kt. from 1911)
1917 - 1922 Montague Gluckstein
1923 - 1928 Alfred Salmon
1928 - 1941 Isidore Salmon (Kt. from 1933)
1941 - 1950 Harry Salmon JP
1950 - 1956 Major Montague I. Gluckstein OBE
1956 - 1960 Isidore Montague Gluckstein
1960 - 1965 Barnett Alfred Salmon
1965 - 1968 Samuel Salmon Kt. CBE, JP, MP                              (Mayor of Hammersmith 1968/69)
1968 - 1972 Geoffrey Salmon CBE
1972 - 1977 Brian Lawson Salmon CBE
1977 - 1981 Neil Lawson Salmon

Some of the Staff over the Years

Bakery pastry kitchen staff outing, 1908


Isadore Gluckstein

(1851 - 1920)

Bakery Pastry Kitchen Staff Cadby Hall O

Montague Gluckstein

(1854 - 1922)

Bakery Sponge Department Ladies. 1932. H

Bakery sponge cake department, 1932


Joseph Lyons

(1847 - 1917)

Bakery school relay team (date unknown)

Bakery School.jpg

Bakery school (date unknown)


Barnett Salmon

(1829 - 1897)

12 February 1972

Greenford Canteen lunchtime entertainmen

Greenford tea factory workers enjoying lunchtime entertainment in staff canteen, 1927

Lyons (India) Staff 1928.jpg

Lyons (India) staff, 1928


Dinner at the Regent Palace Hotel on the occasion of the retirement of Mr Coyte, who is seated between Mr Sam Salmon and Mr Alfred Salmon (date unknown)


Miss Dorothy Barrington, last of the nippies, who retired in February 1971 after 47 years service. She joined teashops in 1923 and went to maison Lyons Marble Arch when it opened in 1933. She is seen here with the waitresses of the Star Grill, Maison Lyons Marble Arch


These 9 ladies worked at Lyons Tea Factory, Greenford, and are seen here on Brighton seafront. The photograph was taken in 1948/49. From left to right are: Jean Parsons, Lorna Cheshire, May Rimmer, Winifred Fowler, Rita Moss, Betty Dunderdale, Grace Bolton, Joyce Burtenshaw and Winnie's cousin? Four of the girls shown here once lived on the Cuckoo Estate, Hanwell, and in recent times they have formed a club calling themselves Cuckooites. 

Cadby Hall - Picture of staff taken in F

Staff at Cadby Hall during World War I (copyright Peter Bird)


Grace Bolton (L) and Helen McReady (R) during lunch break at the Lyons Tea factory, Greenford

(supplied by Grace Bolton)


These 7 girls from the Lyons Tea Factory, Greenford, are show here during their lunch break in the factory gardens. They are: Grace Bolton, Margi Trotman, Rita Moss, Joyce Burtonshaw, Jean Parsons, May rimmer and Peggy ?(supplied by Grace Bolton)

Charles Brown in 1908. Back Row Rightb..
New Coventry St Corner House Staff outin

Coventry Street Corner House staff outing to Worthing, 1928

New Light Transport Outing at Boulters L

Miss Dorothy Barrington, last of the nippies, who retired in February 1971 after 47 years service. She joined teashops in 1923 and went to maison Lyons Marble Arch when it opened in 1933. She is seen here with the waitresses of the Star Grill, Maison Lyons Marble Arch

Light transport outing, 1928. Location is Boulters Lock.

Charles Brown (Back row right), 1908

Courtesy Wendy Brown

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