Following the demolitions on both worksites, archaeological investigations have been undertaken to better understand the development of west London over the centuries.
On the western site at Dean Street, excavations revealed remnants of Roman pottery and 17th Century artefacts including a clay pipe, pottery and bricks. The remains of a brick building were also found which may have been one of the original structures lining Great Chapel Street – which may itself have been an earlier thoroughfare called Parkers Lane.
A second major phase of brick building was discovered dating from the mid-late 18th Century. Two structures were identified as likely to be the remains of the cellars. The position of these demonstrates that ground levels were raised in the area as soils cleared for buildings were redeposited in roadways and backyards. Today, the ground level in Great Chapel Street is approximately three metres higher than in the 17th Century.
Deposits of domestic waste were found on the site; these will be studied to understand the lifestyle and social status of the occupants who lived on the site hundreds of years ago.
On the eastern site at Goslett Yard, the investigations found evidence of 17th Century structural remains, with further phases of building development in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.
The famous food company Crosse and Blackwell was a Soho firm. Founded in 1706, in 1840 they started a bottling factory from No 21 Soho Square. Over the next decades they expanded rapidly, buying up neighbouring properties in many nearby streets.
By the end of the 19th century the company was operating from a large new warehouse in Charing Cross Road. The Astoria Cinema and Dance Hall was constructed inside this building in the 1920’s after Crosse and Blackwell had left the area.
The basements of the warehouse had survived in good condition when we re-discovered them. A large network of underground rooms were revealed and kilns, furnaces, and an innovative refrigeration system were found inside. One underground vault contained around 8,000 unused ceramic and stoneware jars for preserves, pickles and sauces. These were probably abandoned as the company changed to glass jars and bottles for its products.
The maker’s marks show that some of the jars were made by the company. They also relied on other suppliers from all over Britain including factories in Newcastle, Derby and other London potteries.
The finds are thought to be the largest discovery of late Victorian and early Edwardian jars in the country. This has provided the Museum of London with an important research collection.
Some of the historic buildings recorded can be shown to have originated as part of the Crosse and Blackwell industrial complex on the site.
Other artefacts and structures found include a circular brick-lined pit and a brass plate for J&E Hall Ltd, a company established in Dartford in the 18th Century and pioneers of early refrigeration equipment.
Everything found during the investigation has been recorded and some articles preserved to increase the wealth of knowledge of London’s history.