london’s least used roads #4 – Bourdon Street, W1

bourdon-st-ivMayfair, as those of you that follow me on Twitter may already have deduced, is fast becoming my second home. Not because I’m so loaded that I have a little pied a terre there, or that I fill my days with long lunches at The Connaught Hotel or sleb hangout Cecconi’s. No such luck, it’s just that with work being thin on the ground and my general reluctance to joining the ever increasing queues of cabs at the major rail termini, my default setting is now to head for Mayfair. Too often I can end up traveling all the way back from a job in the city without even a sniff of a job on the journey back west. At least in Mayfair you can get in the queue for the possibility of an all too rare account job, or maybe rank up in Berkeley Square or outside one of the big Hotels.  And occasionally, if the wind is blowing in the right direction, you can quite literally smell the money around Mayfair.

But enough of my mild whingeing. All this time spent in Mayfair has led to me to become very familiar with all it’s various charms.  But there are always little bits that you haven’t seen before or just haven’t paid attention too properly.  So there I was last week minding my own business, trying to be patient about the lack of a job.  All of a sudden my Dial-A-Cab terminal springs into life and offers me a job – Bourdon St to Euston booked for about 15 minutes time.  Excellent.  Not a prime job, but a job is a job, n’est pas?  For those of you a bit geographically challenged when it comes to Mayfair, Bourdon St is to the north of Berkeley Square, part of a little network of streets between Davies Street, Grosvenor Street and New Bond Street.  Turn right by the Alfred Dunhill Home Store, which was formerly Bourdon House –  home to the 2nd Duke of Westminster, and suddenly you are in a street that is not only very quiet but is home to 2 quite large blocks of flats tucked away from public view.  It doesn’t go anywhere of any real use, unless you need the very eastern end of Grosvenor Street , and so retains an air of being forgotten about and rather neglected.  Both of which are qualities which make it interesting and not a little splendid in my eyes.



4 thoughts on “london’s least used roads #4 – Bourdon Street, W1

  1. I really do know Bourdon Street because my greatgreat- aunt lived with her husband, who was a “gentleman’s coachman”, first of all at Bourdon House then further down the hill in one of the mews houses. Their first employer was an Irish MP in the House of Lords and Bourdon House was his London residence. The unusual freestanding block of apartments in the middle of the street was built by a Victorian philanthropist, one of many who felt that all the poor people who lived in the area and working as servants in rich people’s houses nearby, or who were in business, etc,. should have healthy homes. There were public baths nearby.
    Last year I paid a visit to London, and Bourdon Street was one of some very special places for me to walk around.
    Thank you for the chance to “revisit” this place.

    • Dear Jan
      Have you any other details re the ‘freestanding block’ or can you point us in the right direction as we believe that my wife’s great-uncles died from measles in these buildings back in the 1870’s. We’re finding it hard to get any historic details of the building and its tenants. ALSO – many thanks to ‘The Cabbies Capital’, a site we’ll be visiting more often.

  2. I believe that the origin of the street’s wonderful name may be a large influx of Huegonots (Protestants) who were expelled from France in the 1600’s. Many of them (including my ancestors) were skilled tradespeople (including weavers) and many did quite well for themselves, apparently.

    One of the meanings of ‘bourdon’ is ‘bumblebee’ because of the core meaning of the word which means ‘to drone / buzz / ring. The biggest bell in a bell tower is a bourdon. The lowest sound on a church organ is also a bourdon. The part of the bagpipe responsible for the drone, is a bourdon. I will not drone on any longer…. Thanks for introducing me to my street, I’ll be over soon to claim it if I can!

    Ron Bourdon
    Prince Edward Island

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