This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"The great popular carnival, Whitsuntide, imposes a strain upon the resources of caterers which outsiders can but imperfectly realize. At the Inventions Exhibition, for example, Messrs. Spiers and Pond were on Whit Monday expected to meet the eating and drinking requirements of over 73,000 people. This gigantic task was, thanks to the masterly arrangements made, carried out with complete success in spite of pessimistic prognostications. At the Crystal Palace Messrs. Bertram & Roberts were prepared to "tackle" a similar inrush. The general average number of visitors to the Crystal Palace to be provided for is 10,000, but Whit Monday is always a special day, and the curious warren of larders and kitchens, bakeries, groceries, butchers' shops, and wine-vaults down at the back of the south transept, was for days previous a very interesting scene of preparation. A correspondent was permitted to walk through the place on the Saturday preceeding the great holiday, and a particularly busy scene he found it. The contractors were prepared for a nice little tea-party of 4,000 people at one time. They can seat this number at any rate - perhaps some at dinner and some at tea.
They expected to brew some 5,000 gallons of tea and coffee, and in one room were several huge boilers and some hundreds of tins like large-sized waterpots in which the beverage is run away on trucks to various parts of the palace. They were providing for about 15,000 shilling teas, and their preparations for dinner suggested nothing short of a orotracted siege about to commence. Some twelve tons of meat would be required and about twenty women were busily employed in peeling potatoes, washing cabbages, making salads, and so forth. The firm make and prepare pretty nearly everything here, including various kinds of aereted drinks, the water for which is pumped up from an artesian well in the giounds and elaborately filtered on the premises. The bottling machinery Is very extensive, and the laundry down In this queer region is fitted up with all the most modern appliances, the establishment having in stock something like 20,000 dinner napkins and 5,000 or 6,000 table-cloths. On the Saturday there were four men making nothing but pork-pies, and the quantities of Crystal Palace cake stowed away in readiness for visitors was eou.e-thing prodigious. The ordinary staff of this huge culinary establishment is about 500 people.
On Bank Holiday those employed about the place in one way or another was double that number".