HIDDEN LIVES OF LONDON STREETS


HIDDEN LIVES OF LONDON STREETS

JAMES MORTON    Book Number: 85348    Product format: Paperback

Sub-titled 'A Walking Guide to Soho, Holborn and Beyond' we learn that from the 18th century, Covent Garden, along with Seven Dials, was a dangerous slum until after the Second World War. Its rejuvenation began when the fruit market was relocated. Old Compton Street, once the home of the Italian race course gangs, have been transformed into a predominantly gay and welcoming area. Chinatown was only born in the 1960s. On the streets themselves many changes have taken place. Tourists may no longer feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square; gone are the flower sellers who used to sit at the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus; the Street Offences Act 1956 cleared the working girls off the pavements in Soho and Coventry Street and the conmen with their card tricks have now been cleared by the police. In the 1920s a little band called The Happy Wanderers used to busk playing old Dixieland numbers and now buskers themselves have almost vanished. Pavement artists, escapologists, a man who creates a sand dog, fashions have changed and buildings along with them. And often things are not quite what they seem - the Law Courts are Gothic revival, built only in the late 19th century; Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 and at one time its high-level open walkways were a haunt of prostitutes and pickpockets, rather like Burlington Arcade of a century and a half ago. Over the years houses have been pulled down and rebuilt, theatres and cinemas have come and gone such as the Tivoli at 68 The Strand which was first a restaurant and beer garden and then became a music hall and cinema before closing in 1957 and being demolished. In the late 1990s, New South Wales House was replaced by an office block and Lyons' Corner Houses, the quintessentially English establishment for tea and cake, have also vanished. The shift of newspapers from Fleet Street has also meant a change in the clientele of El Vino's just up the road which from lunch until early evening would be inhabited by journalists and where until the 1980s women were prohibited from standing at the bar and men had to wear ties. The book is a delightful collection of tales about these central streets, deaths, murderers, tricksters, urban legends and events which have led to changes in the law. It tells of kings and queens, politicians and police, courtiers and courtesans, scientists and socialites, actors and adventurers, prostitutes and priests and the great balls and brothels, drinking dens and gambling, executive clubs, waiters, gays and dwarves. 163pp in paperback.
Published price: £9.99
Bibliophile price: £5.00


Additional product information

ISBN 9781472139269
Browse these categories as well: Great Britain, Maps & the Environment, History

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