A guest blog post from Lucas Pilgham to continue along a Woolwich ‘Drift’
Big Mac Fries To Go
If the Woolwich Hobgoblin provides a glimpse of a long forgotten past, a 2 minute walk will take you to the birthplace of a modern retail phenomenon that has courted, controversy, conspiracy and has changed the behaviour of our society.
It all started on November 13th 1974 when an ambitious business man from Ohio looked on as a Radio 1 DJ called Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart announced the opening of the first McDonalds in Britain. A symbolic pebble thrown into a cultural pond whose ripples are still felt today.
The building is so bland and dull there is very little that can be said about it, yet it was because of that very ‘ordinariness’ it was chosen. Powis Street was deemed by the company to be typical British High Street, basically if the restaurant was success here it could be replicated across the country. And how right they were, there are now over 1250 McDonalds operating across Britain, its Golden Arches a testament to the Americanisation of our society.
The shop may be nondescript but the Company is not, the mere mention of the name McDonalds in any conversation will polarise opinion. A shining example of the success of capitalism to some, the unacceptable face of big business to others.
An early champion of the notion that quantity and quick service equals quality, a view that is embedded in every aspect of our lives now.
Conspiracy theories constantly surface about its products and working practises and don’t forget the McLibel trial the longest court case in British History. It’s hard to believe but it all started here in Woolwich.
However it’s not all just about the bigger picture , the first restaurant can still provide commentary about modern life in and of itself. Recently a temporary knife arch was installed and the wi-fi is turned off when schools finish to deter anti social behaviour.
‘As above so below’ seems perfectly appropriate