In pictures: Crossrail's tastiest discovery yet

Lynsey Barber
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Tottenham Court Road Prepares For The Arrival Of Cross Rail
Soho was once a site for producing picalili and other condiments (Source: Getty)

The massive project that is Crossrail has unearthed a more appetising insight into London's history than the 3,000 plague victim skeletons at Liverpool Street

A tasty treasure trove of condiment bottles from a former Crosse and Blackwell factory in the heart of Soho have been excavated after digging to create the Elizabeth Line around Tottenham Court Road.

Londoners familiar with the shops, bars, restaurants and flats in the area might be surprised to find it the location for a large manufacturing operation and the food manufacturer opened up at 21 Soho Square in 1840 and remained there until 1921 employing thousands of people at one point.

Read more: Mapped: Do you work on top of a London plague pit?

Archaeologists discovered that large parts of the warehouse basement remained in tact with remnants of the kilns and furnaces used to make the 13,000 pickle pots, jam jars and essence bottles unearthed at the site, all of them, of course, well-preserved.

"Excavations on Crosse & Blackwell’s Soho factory produced a large and diverse collection of pottery and glass related to their products, with one cistern alone containing nearly three tonnes of Newcastle made marmalade jars with stoneware bottles and jars," said Nigel Jeffries, mediaeval and later pottery specialist at Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA).

Reports at the time describe “a very distinctive pungency to the surrounding atmosphere” and “suffocating effluvium”.

The details of the discovery are chronicled in a new book released this month: Crosse & Blackwell 1830-1921: A British Food Manufacturer in London’s West End

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