J. Lyons & Co.
Strand Hotel Limited was incorporated on 31 October 1907 with some 4,000 shareholders. Created by the Salmon & Gluckstein families it was established to fund the building of the Strand Palace Hotel in London. This hotel company had no legal association with J. Lyons & Co until 1922 when they acquired shares in this enterprise. Then, with its control of the Deferred Shares, and the structure of its Articles of Association, J. Lyons & Co effectively had control of the hotel company. Its directors were common to both Lyons and Stand Hotel Limited.
In 1968 Stand Hotel Limited changed its name to Strand Hotels Limited in a very belated move to reflect the much wider hotel group. By then it was one of the largest hotel groups in the country with the Cumberland Hotel the largest in Europe.
Following the successful opening of the Strand Palace Hotel the company (Strand Hotel Limited) built the Regent Palace Hotel near Piccadilly Circus and although it did not have en suite toilet facilities its occupancy rates were among the highest of all their hotels. They then acquired the Royal Palace Hotel in Kensington High Street and in 1933 built the magnificent Cumberland Hotel near London's Marble Arch.
In 1968 Lyons acquired the whole share capital of Strand Hotel Limited and it thus became a wholly owned subsidiary.
After the Second World War there was considerable redevelopment in the major UK cities and Lyons embarked on a large hotel building programme. Albany hotels were built in Birmingham (1962), Glasgow (1973), Nottingham (1969), Havant (1973), Rugby (1971) and Wakefield (1972). A large hotel in Amsterdam was built in co-operation with KLM and hotels in Paris and Siena were acquired. They built the Ariel Hotel at London's Heathrow Airport and progressively bought many smaller hotels in London and extended them. A heritage hotel group of 17 hotels was bought piecemeal in areas such as Pitlochry, Bowness-on-Windermere, Stratford-on-Avon, Banbury, Chester, Coventry and Harrogate. The largest post war development was the Tower Hotel which overlooked Tower Bridge, probably the finest hotel site in the Capital.
By the late 1970s the company's fortunes took a downward turn and as a consequence the hotel division was sold. With the exception of the Tower Hotel, the hotel chain was bought by Trusthouse Forte for a song in January 1977. It had been the jewel in the crown of all the Lyons businesses and there was much weeping on the directors' floor that month. A much fuller account of the hotel business is included in Peter Bird's book The First Food Empire - A History of J. Lyons & Co.
© Peter Bird 2002