Zaika at 27 London Road is a Pakistani cafe and takeaway with around a decade’s service in West Croydon.
1860s–1880s: Construction of the building, and John Lloyd, chemist and druggist
As discussed in previous articles in this series, 23–29 London Road were all built at the same time, around 1869–1872. The first inhabitant of number 27 was John Lloyd, a chemist and druggist who sold products including a “celebrated cough syrup” and a “hair lotion and restorer” that would “certainly restore the Hair when weak; and after illness, or fevers, induce new growth”.
1880s–1900s: Chemists, dentists, veterinary surgeons, and West Croydon Post Office
John Lloyd remained at 27 London Road until the mid-1880s, when he was replaced by fellow chemist Frederick William Peck. Frederick Peck also took over the post office service which until this point had been further down the road at number 17. However, he didn’t stay long at the property; around 1890, both the chemists and the post office were taken over by Josiah Goodman, who was soon joined by Arnald & Arnald, veterinary surgeons.
Around 1903, Josiah Goodman was replaced by R L Griffiths, and shortly afterwards Arnald & Arnald were replaced first by the Dental Guarantee Association and then by P De Pinto, surgeon dentist. R L Griffiths continued to run the chemists and post office until at least 1906. Around 1907 the post office moved along the road again, to W E Pratt’s grocery store at number 40. Ward’s 1907, 1908, and 1909 directories list the property as West Croydon Drug Stores, with no indication of whether Mr Griffiths was still in charge.
1910s–1920s: Antiques, sewing machines, and Leach Bros fishmongers
The next three occupants of number 27 all had very brief tenancies; F Guttridge, chemist, around 1910; William Benfield, antique dealer, around 1911; and the Cinderella Sewing Machine Co around 1913. A period of stability was then ushered in by the arrival of Leach Bros, a small local chain of fishmongers. Its London Road branch was at number 27 from around 1914 to early 1931; at this point, it moved its fish-based operations next door to number 25, where it remained until the mid-1970s.
1930s–1950s: Greengrocers and fruiterers
After Leach Bros moved its fish shop to number 25, it kept number 27 for a year or two, running it as a greengrocers/fruiterers. However, the greengrocery business quickly passed to other owners: J Jones & Sons from 1934, A Coles from 1936, and finally Mayles Ltd from 1938.
All of these greengrocers also had branches elsewhere. J Jones & Sons and A Coles both seem to have been fairly small concerns, with no more than half a dozen branches apiece at most, and none outside South London. Mayles Ltd was rather larger; the November 1938 London phone book lists 12 branches around South London as well as offices in Wallington, and by May 1945 it had an additional office on Catherine Street in Covent Garden. Mayles had two Croydon branches: this one on London Road, and another at 95A South End.
Mayles appears to at some point have gone into some kind of partnership with another greengrocery firm, F Meyers Ltd, which is listed in phone books from February 1952 onwards as supplying floristry services at both of Mayles’ Croydon branches. However, by the end of the 1950s Mayles had vacated Croydon entirely.
1960s–1980s: F Broomfield and the Quality Food Centre
Next to move in to 27 London Road was F Broomfield, a chain of bakers with several branches in Croydon including three further up London Road. Its branch here lasted throughout the 1960s. This was followed by the Quality Food Centre, which was in place by mid-1974 and remained until the late 1980s, selling English and Indian groceries, halal meat, and cigarettes.
1990s: Computech Electronics
A period of vacancy followed this; Goad plans from 1990 to 1995 list the property as vacant (and, in 1993–1994, under alteration). However, by 1996, the premises were occupied by Computech Electronics, which unsurprisingly sold computer equipment. Computech Electronics was at 27 London Road until at least 1998, and was followed by another period of vacancy.
By 2004, Zaika was in place. This small Pakistani cafe and takeaway serves both meat-based and vegetarian food, separated into different display counters to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Savoury stews and rice dishes are cooked in bulk and reheated to order, while kebabs and breads are cooked fresh in the tandoor behind the counter. The menu changes frequently, and on any one day might include dishes such as chicken haleem, chickpea curry, and saag aloo.
When I visited Zaika in early October 2013 to ask about the history of the business, I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Zak, who was chef and owner at Zaika for many years. A couple of years ago, he passed responsibility for the business to other hands, but remained for a while as a consultant. The current owners, Kym Foods Ltd, took over earlier this year, and Zak is currently supervising and training their chefs to ensure that the quality of his cooking is maintained. The name “Zaika” means “taste”, according to Zak — a very appropriate name for the source of some very tasty food!
Thanks to: Brian Gittings; Zak at Zaika; all at the Croydon Local Studies Library; and my beta-readers bob, Flash, Kat, and Shuri. Pre-1985 phone books consulted via Ancestry.co.uk.
Footnotes and references
- See my article on 25 London Road.
- John Lloyd is listed in street directories from Wilkins’ 1872–3 to Ward’s 1885. Information on products sold taken from the advertisement reproduced in the present article and another advertisement on page 11 of the April 1880 Croydon Review.
- Ward’s 1886 directory lists “Fredk. Wm. Peck, Chemist and Druggist” at 27 London Road, and its list of local post offices includes “London-road, at Mr. Peck’s, chemist”. Ward’s 1887, 1888, and 1889 directories list him as “Chemist — Post Office”. Josiah Goodman is listed in Ward’s directories from 1890 to 1902. From 1892 onwards the post office side is listed as “Post and Tel. Off.” rather than simply “Post Office”, which might signify an addition to the business, or might just be a change in Ward’s categorisations. Arnald & Arnald are listed from 1894 to 1903.
- R L Griffiths, “Chemist — Post and Tel. Of” is listed in Ward’s directories from 1903 to 1906. “Dental Guarantee Association, Dentists” is listed alongside this in Ward’s 1904, and P De Pinto is listed in Ward’s 1905. Ward’s 1906 gives R L Griffiths as the only occupant.
- Ward’s 1906 directory has number 27 as the post office, and number 40 (actually number 22 in contemporary numbering, but this was renumbered to 40 in 1927) as W E Pratt, grocer and provision merchant. Ward’s 1907 directory has W E Pratt as grocer and provision merchant plus post office.
- Ward’s directories list F Guttridge at 27 London Road in 1910, William Benfield in 1911, “Unoccupied” in 1912, Cinderella in 1913, Leach Bros fishmongers from 1914 to 1930, and Leach Bros fruiterers in 1932. The September 1930 London phone book lists Leach Bros at 27 London Road (among other places) with no mention of greengrocery, but the next edition (May 1931) has Leach Bros fishmongers at 25 London Road and Leach Bros greengrocers at 27 London Road.
- Leach Bros is listed as a greengrocer at 27 London Road in the November 1931, May 1932, and November 1932 London phone books, and as a fruiterer at the same address in the May 1933, November 1933, and May 1934 editions. In the November 1934 edition, its sole London Road presence is at number 25.
- J Jones & Son is listed as a fruiterer and greengrocer at 27 London Road in the August 1934, February 1935, and August 1935 London phone books. These phone books also show another branch at 29 London Road and others in places including Beckenham (12 Cedars Parade in 1934 and then 236 High Street from 1935 onwards — this may have been an actual move or it may have been a street renumbering) and New Cross. The August 1936 London phone book lists J Jones branches outside Croydon only.
- The February 1936 London phone book lists A Coles as a fruiterer and greengrocer at 173 High Street, Beckenham (head office), 99 High Street, Croydon, and 27 London Road. The August 1936, February 1937, and August 1937 editions list it as a fruiterer, greengrocer, and florist with its head office at 27 London Road; the Beckenham branch is still open, but the Croydon High Street branch has moved to 29 London Road. The February 1938 and August 1938 editions list it only at 27 London Road, 173 High Street Beckenham, and 47 The Market, Rosehill, Sutton. The February 1939 edition lists no A Coles anywhere in Croydon, Beckenham, or Sutton.
- Mayles Ltd, fruiterers, is listed at 27 London Road and 95A South End in phone books from November 1938 (London edition) to April 1958 (Outer London Kent/Surrey edition). (Ward’s 1939 street directory disagrees with the address of the South End branch, listing Mayles at 95 and Pamela, wools and baby linen, at 95A.) The only Mayles branches in the June 1959 Outer London Kent/Surrey phone book are in Carshalton and North Cheam.
- Information from phone books as noted in footnotes , , and . It is of course possible that these chains had additional branches without telephones.
- From October 1955, F Meyers is instead listed at 29 London Road, while Mayles continues to be listed at 27 London Road. It’s possible, however, that the joint businesses were trading at both addresses for some years before this, as phone books and street directories don’t always list the full address for properties covering a range of numbers. Kent’s 1955 and 1956 street directories list “Mayers Ltd” [sic] at 27–29 London Road, which is clearly a typo of some kind, possibly a conflation of “Mayles” with “Meyers”.
- See footnote  above. F Meyers remained at 29 London Road until around 1963 and 95A South End until around 1969, and will be discussed further in a later article in this series. Confusingly, the 1967 and 1971 editions of the Croydon Classified Directory list F Meyers Ltd at 27 London Road (as well as 95A South End). I am at a loss to explain this. The Outer London Kent/Surrey and North East Surrey phone books list F Broomfield at 27 London Road from August 1960 to September 1969. The July 1971 North East Surrey phone book has no F Broomfield branch at 27 London Road, but the only F Meyers branches it has are in Wallington and New Addington.
- See footnote  for F Broomfield dates.
- The Quality Food Centre is listed at 27 London Road in phone books from July 1974 to 1988, but doesn’t appear in the 1990 Croydon edition. It’s also shown there in the August 1974, March 1983, March 1984, March 1985, April 1986, and April 1987 Goad plans, where it’s listed as “BUT GRO”, i.e. butcher and grocer. (The March 1984 plan has a note “closing down (Stuart Edwards)”, but this clearly didn’t actually happen.) Brian Gittings’ 1980 journal of central Croydon retail lists it as “Indian food shop — Akhtar”. Brian’s photo of the shop (c.1985 to his recollection), a crop of which is included in the present article, shows the words “Continental & English Groceries / Halal Meat” on the frontage, and adverts for Marlboro cigarettes in the window.
- Goad plans list 27 London Road as vacant in March 1990, June 1991, and June 1992; vacant and under alteration in April 1993 and April 1994; vacant in June 1995; “Comp Electronics computer equip” in May 1996, May 1997, and June 1998; vacant in September 1999, May 2000, June 2001, and May 2002; and Zaika from May 2004 onwards. The first edition of Shop ‘Til You Drop (possibly published around 1998–1999) lists it as Computech Electronics (and also as Huma Printers — print/design/copy). The second edition of Shop ‘Til You Drop (possibly published around 2002) has no listing at 27 but does have MA Printers at 27a; the building has no separate entrance from the street to the first floor, so I’m not sure what “27a” refers to. The 1996 and 1998 Croydon phone books list it as Computech Electronics. Hence I’m assuming that “Comp Electronics” on the Goad plan is an abbreviation of the full name.
- See footnote  for opening date of Zaika. Other information in this paragraph from personal observation.
- All information in this paragraph from conversation with Zak at Zaika, 3 October 2013. Zak told me that Kym Foods took over in June 2013.