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Manze’s celebrates 120 years in business

Over the past 120 years of Manzes at Tower Bridge Rd we have endured many ‘life changing events’ that would have unfortunately seen many other small businesses fall by the wayside. If it wasn’t for the stalwart attitude of the staff we could also have followed them and disappeared into a faint memory.

We would like to thank all the staff past and present for their unfailing loyalty.

Since Manzes early beginnings in 1902 major events that have rocked the world and affected us include.


World War 1

The outbreak of WW1 in July 1914 until 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 which is a date set in our history and our hearts for remembrance to all the fallen during those awful years.

During this time we would have possibly seen Zeppelin’s above the city and Gotha bombers dropping incendiary’s over the East end.

Undoubtedly rationing would have played a big part in Londoners survival as well and Manzes would have done all it could to feed the working classes a substantial meal at an affordable price.




Spanish Flu

During 1918 the Spanish Flu arrived, possibly exacerbated by the soldiers returning to their loved ones. This Pandemic killed millions across the world and would have undoubtedly affected the lives of Manzes staff in one way or another. As many of the staff ‘lived in’ at that time they would had to take what possible measures they could to safeguard themselves and customers from this virulent illness.


World War 2

In 1939 WW2 started and would have meant unsettled times again for the Manze staff. In 1940 the ‘Blitz’ began and reigned terror over London.

Manzes didn’t totally remain unscathed because a high explosive bomb hit a shop a few doors away causing the windows of our shop to implode into the street. But the staff to their credit swept up the debris and opened up as usual.

Our sister shop in Southwark park Rd wasn’t quite so lucky and was bombed and never to reopen. As were the 2 shops in Poplar that had to close due to the men going off to war.

With rationing hitting again Manzes was seen as a place to get a hearty meal, and the staff which would have been mainly women and men that weren’t of Military age would be working all day long, serving the factory workers from 9am all the way through to midnight.



Riots 1985

Although our flagship Tower Bridge Rd shop was lucky enough to escape the mayhem of the 1985 riots our sister shop in High Street Peckham wasn’t anywhere near so lucky. The riots had spilled over from Brixton and the carpet shop directly next door was firebombed causing the flames to rise up and over into our shop through the roof. Whilst the fire damage was limited to the top floor of the building the water that was used to put it out saturated through the building and had the most detrimental affect. As the shop was owned by and insured through the local council a long legal battle ensued as they failed to reinstate the shop. This battle dragged on because the GLC had been disbanded and nobody wanted to take responsibility. Eventually a settlement was agreed in the High courts and Manzes of Peckham finally reopened in 1990 as a shiny new shop but with the period feel of the early 1900s.

During the 5 year period of closure the staff were moved to the Tower Bridge Rd shop rather than making them redundant. Loyalty works both ways in our Manze family. And when the shop reopened they happily moved back.


Covid 19 Pandemic

From the moment Boris announced on the evening of the 20th March 2020 that all non essential businesses were to close from that night we made plans so that we could open safely selling pies and mash through our large open windows. This was so successful and welcoming to the customers that they would socially distance queue from our shop hundreds of yards to the traffic lights at Grange Rd.

We rotated the staff and kept them in ‘bubbles’ with hand sanitising, mask wearing, and socially distancing as all part of the daily regime.

This went on until June when we could finally reopen for indoor eating. This didn’t come without its restrictions of course, we had installed covid screens along our long marble counter to protect the staff. Covid screens fitted in between each table along the back of our wooden benches to protect our customers. They all had to be seated in ‘bubbles’ at sanitised tables, wrapped cutlery etc. And to top it all we did table service for the first time in our history which was quite a novelty for all involved.

Eventually we could remove the screens and table service and return to as near normal as possible, with some of the safety measures remaining just because they made sense.

We’ve had an eventful last 120 years and we’re looking forward to what the next 120 years has to offer!

One thought on “Manze’s celebrates 120 years in business

  1. “Marvellous!”
    Well done! The best Pie & Mash shops in the business.
    I am proud to have been weened in in your shop in Peckham and still visit it now 64 years later!
    Thank you.

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