Eel, pie and mash shop, 1929 by Herbert A Wright for Luigi Manze.
Reason for Listing
L Manze at 76 Walthamstow High Street, an eel, pie and mash shop built in 1929, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Design interest: a typical and attractive example of a highly distinctive London building type, with an exceptionally complete interior;
* Historic interest: illustrates a type of establishment, and a type of cuisine, that formed a staple of early-C20 working-class life, and remains a characteristic presence on the high streets of the capital today.
London's eel, pie and mash shops are descended from the strolling piemen who for centuries had provided the capital with one of its staple sources of cheap street food. The eels - served jellied or hot - were caught in the Thames, where they were once plentiful, and also imported live from the Fens and from Holland. ('Liquor', a type of parsley sauce, comprises the fourth canonical ingredient.) The first documented pie shop was opened on Union Street in Southwark in 1844, and in 1851 Henry Mayhew records the complaints of street piemen that 'the penny pie shops...have now got mostly all the custom, as they make the pies much larger for the money than those sold on the street'. By 1874 there were 33 such shops listed in the London trade directories, rising to more than 100 by the mid-C20. The shops usually operated both as takeaways and as eat-in restaurants, and followed a standard design formula of tiled and mirrored interiors with marble-topped tables in high-backed seating booths. Later in the century, the availability of other forms of fast food and the dispersal of inner London's established working-class communities led to a slow decline in trade; there are estimated to be about 30 traditional shops still in existence, concentrated in the East End and inner south-east London, with some outliers in the Essex New Towns and seaside resorts.
The Manze chain of eel, pie and mash shops was established in the early 1900s by Michaele Manze, a native of Ravello in southern Italy whose parents had settled in Bermondsey in 1878. In 1897 he married Ada Poole, the daughter of his friend and mentor Robert Cooke, London's most successful pie-shop entrepreneur of the late C19. In 1902 the Manzes opened their own shop at 87 Tower Bridge Road, which survives and is the oldest of its kind still in operation. Further shops followed in Poplar and Peckham, and the involvement of Michaele's brothers Luigi and Pantaleone eventually brought the total number of Manze premises to 14. No. 76 Walthamstow High Street, formerly a refreshment room run by one Alberto Constantino, was acquired in 1929 by Luigi Manze, who employed the architect Herbert Wright to rebuild it in its present form. It continued to be run by the Manze family until 1970.
MATERIALS: main building of red and stock brick with flat asphalt roofs. Tiled and glazed hardwood shop-front. Tiled interior with terrazzo floor, pressed tin ceiling and fittings of timber and marble.
PLAN: the building occupies a long narrow commercial plot (approximately 6m by 30m) on the south side of Walthamstow High Street, with a narrow passageway along the western side. In front is a flat-roofed shop unit, projecting about 8m forward of the three-storey main block; the whole of the ground floor is occupied by the dining room and kitchen, and the upper two floors contain domestic accommodation (originally comprising a sitting room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, WC and five bedrooms).
EXTERIOR: the shop-front has glazed double doors with an overlight, flanked by big sash windows (inscribed 'MANZE'S JELLIED & HOT EELS' and 'MANZE'S PIE & MASH') which functioned as serving hatches for off-sales; the frames and surrounds are of hardwood with brass trim, and the stall-risers below are clad in brown tiles. The fascia is of black Vitrolite or similar, with gold lettering that reads 'L. MANZE / WHOLESALE AND RETAIL' and, in scrolls on either side, 'LIVE EEL IMPORTER'. Below are two curved lamps, and above a retractable awning - these, and the brackets, the cornice and the solid metal gate to the right-hand passage are all currently (2013) painted dark green. The two-bay building behind is faced in red brick and has large cross-casement windows beneath flat-arched heads, with ornamental brick quoins and a raised parapet. Joinery and rainwater goods are painted green to match the front.
INTERIOR: the shop-cum-restaurant occupies most of the ground floor. The walls here are clad in white and green tiles, with large inset mirrors, a frieze of wreaths and ribbons and an egg-and-dart cornice. The floor is of pink and grey terrazzo and the ceiling of pressed tin panels. To the left of the door is the main serving area, which has marble shelves and counter-top and a zinc and hardwood working surface containing four large bains-marie. Affixed to one of the mirror-frames behind is a little notched plate for testing coins. On the right of the door is a small enclosure with a panelled half-height door and a marble counter with a drain, where the fresh eels were formerly displayed on ice. The rest of the space is occupied by a series of seating booths. High-backed timber partitions are set at right-angles to the wall, ending in turned acorn-topped newels and fitted on either side with low benches; between each pair of benches is a marble-topped table, supported on the wall at one end and by a Y-shaped metal upright at the other. Halfway down there is a side door to the passage, and at the back a door into the kitchen, whose fittings have been renewed. A narrow winder stair leads to the first- and second-floor accommodation, which has likewise been modernised, though plain six-panel doors, green and white bathroom tiles and an ornamental fireplace survive.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.