Kardomah Cafés

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Kardomah Cafés were a chain of coffee shops in England, Wales, and a few in Paris, popular from the early 1900s until the 1960s, but now almost defunct. They featured live entertainment provided by string quartets.[1]


The company that created the Kardomah brand began in Pudsey Street,[2] Liverpool in 1844 as the Vey Brothers teadealers and grocers. In 1868 the business was acquired by the newly created Liverpool China and India Tea Company,[3] and a series of brand names was created beginning with Mikado. The Kardomah brand of tea was first served at the Liverpool colonial exhibition of 1887,[4] and the brand was later applied to a range of teas, coffees and coffee houses. The parent company was renamed Kardomah Limited in 1938.[5][6] The brand was acquired by the Forte Group in 1962,[7] sold to Cadbury/Schweppes/Typhoo in 1971, and became part of Premier Brands some time between 1980 and 1997. The brand still exists, selling items such as instant coffee and coffee whitener.

The Kardomah Cafés in London and Manchester were designed by Sir Misha Black between 1936 and 1950.[8]

Famous real and fictional Kardomah Cafés[edit]

  • Swansea (Castle Street; real): the meeting place of The Kardomah Gang, which included Dylan Thomas; replaced by the present Kardomah Coffee Shop Restaurant in Portland Street[9]
  • Milford (fictional; a studio set[10]): one of the meeting places used by Alec and Laura in the 1945 film Brief Encounter
  • Liverpool's Kardomah Cafe just off Stanley street which was open until the late 80s also gained notoriety for the song titled Kardomah Cafe. The song was realised in 1983 by Liverpool group the Cherry Boys, it was written by the guitarist and singer of the group John Byrne who would later go on to join the La's and play on their worldwide hit 'There she goes' This branch was also used by the Beatles, and the many Merseybeat groups of the 1960s, who played in the nearby Cavern Club.

Other locations[edit]

Kardomah-branded products[edit]

  • Kardomah Kee-Mun Tea (fl.1936)[33]
  • Kardomah Tea-Tasting Cabinet (1952)[34]
  • Kardomah Products[35]


  1. ^ What are your memories of the Kardomah Cafes?, BBC Leeds, 2010-10-28, accessed 2011-05-14
  2. ^ "Fire at Liverpool", The Times, Thursday, Nov 22, 1866; pg. 6, accessed at Times Digital Archive 2011-05-15
  3. ^ Kardomah Limited, Companies House registration no. 04059
  4. ^ Catherine Hall, Sonya O. Rose, At home with the empire: metropolitan culture and the imperial world, Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-521-85406-7, p.184
  5. ^ "Kardomah Limited" share issue announcement with company history, The Times, Monday June 16th 1947, p.7, accessed at The Times Digital Archive 2011-05-14
  6. ^ "Our Company History", Premier Brands, accessed 2011-05-14
  7. ^ "Lord Forte" (obituary), Times Online 2007-03-01, accessed 2011-05-14
  8. ^ "Black, Sir Misha", Exploring 20th Century London, accessed 2011-05-14
  9. ^ "Caff Gazetteer #2", Classic Cafes, accessed 2011-05-14
  10. ^ Laurie N. Ede, British Film Design: A History, I.B.Tauris, 2010, ISBN 1-84885-108-1, p.60
  11. ^ Kardomah, Birmingham History Forum, accessed 2011-05-14
  12. ^ "Around Brum", A Compendium of "Memories" provided by members of the ENG-WARKS-BIRMINGHAM-LIST, accessed 2011-05-14
  13. ^ Nick Clarke, Alistair Cooke: a biography, Arcade Publishing, 1999, ISBN 1-55970-548-5, p.20
  14. ^ "Flickr", credit mr-bg, accessed 2014-09-09
  15. ^ "Kardomah", Real Cardiff, accessed 2011-05-14
  16. ^ [1], accessed 2014-07-13
  17. ^ Derby Evening Telegraph, accessed 2011-05-14
  18. ^ Kardomah Cafe, 65 to 66 Briggate, Leodis, with 1935 photo, accessed 2011-05-14
  19. ^ The Kardomah Coffee House at the Corner of Whitechapel & Stanley Street, Winston Lennon, with 1960s photo, accessed 2011-05-14
  20. ^ Kardomah Piccadilly, 1936 photo, RIBA, accessed 2011-05-14
  21. ^ G. L. Herries Davies, Whatever is Under the Earth: The Geological Society of London 1807-2007, The Geological Society, 2007, ISBN 1-86239-214-5, p.267
  22. ^ Kardomah Fleet Street, 1939 photo, RIBA, accessed 2011-05-14
  23. ^ Glyn Idris Jones, No Official Umbrella, pub. Douglas Foote, 2008, ISBN 960-98418-0-5, p.141
  24. ^ Barbara Pym, Hazel Holt, Hilary Pym, A very private eye: an autobiography in diaries and letters, Vintage Books, 1985, ISBN 0-394-73106-9, p.266
  25. ^ Richard Ingrams, England: an anthology, Collins, 1989, ISBN 0-00-217825-7, p.110
  26. ^ "Sleuth 08/01/2010", Manchester Confidential, accessed 2011-05-14
  27. ^ Manchester, Market Street
  28. ^ Manchester St Anne's Square
  29. ^ "Kardomah coffee house", nottstalgia.com, accessed 2011-05-14
  30. ^ "John Gross (obituary)", The Independent, 2011-01-21, accessed 2011-05-14
  31. ^ Karl Baedeker, Paris and environs: with routes from London to Paris, 1913
  32. ^ Preston Kardomah, 1966, photo, accessed 2011-05-14
  33. ^ Kee-Mun tea label, Adventures of the Blackgang, accessed 2011-05-14
  34. ^ Photo of Kardomah Tea-Tasting Cabinet, Design Council Slide Collection, accessed 2011-05-14
  35. ^ Flickr photos

External links[edit]