the london compendium guide to my week – Day 3

Heywood Hill - No. 10 Curzon Street, W1

Heywood Hill - No. 10 Curzon Street, W1

Another short shift, this time planned due to a very important breakfast appointment in Mitcham that stretched out until lunch time.  But the few jobs I did get round to doing had a much better hit rate in TLC.  Seat belts on, here we go again;

Victoria Station to Wright’s Lane, W8 – nothing to report.

Kensington Road, W8 to South Kensington Station, SW7 – Dropped this punter in Harrington Road, so can tell you that No. 50 housed the Russian Tea Rooms, ‘that soon became the meeting place of the extreme nationalist Right Club, an organization run by Captain Archibald Ramsay, MP for Peebles.  It’s aim was to “oppose and expose the activities of organised Jewry”, for Ramsay believed Jews responsible for communism, capitalism, the Masons and the Vatican.’  Sounds a right charmer doesn’t he?

Brompton Road, SW7 to Spring Street, W2 – At the risk of making this whole series of history snippets about Soviet Spies, I bring you this from Ed’s comments about The London Oratory of St Philip Neri, London’s first large Catholic Church built after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 – ‘During the 1980s the KGB had a dead letter box (a safe place where they could leave secret documents & messages) in a recess behind a column by the altar.’  Those spies where everywhere weren’t they?  Blimey.

Marylebone Station to St Swithin’s Lane, EC4 – Marylebone has always struck me as the poor relation of London train termini and this partly explains it; ‘Marylebone opened in 1899, having been funded by Sir Edward William Watkin, a Manchester cotton magnate who was chairman of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and the Metropolitan Railiway underground line, and saw Marylebone not as a terminus, but as a stop on a line running from the north of England to France via a Channel tunnel.  Watkin’s grand scheme was curtailed when he suffered a stroke in 1894, and with funds running low the railway company was unable to afford an architect to design the station, which opened with only 4 platforms.’  Those Victorians and their grand plans eh?  A Channel tunnel indeed, how ridiculous.

Salisbury Square, EC4 to Half Moon Lane, SE24 – nothing to report.

Pont Street, SW3 to Stratton Street, W1 – ‘Named after a bridge over the now culverted Westbourne River, Pont Street was developed from 1805, with gabled red brick houses that were derided by the upper classes but sought after by those with social aspirations and were later given the name “Pont Street Dutch” by the cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, a term that came into general use to describe similar properties everywhere.’

Curzon Street, W1 to Sheffield Terrace, W8 – 2nd mention this week for Curzon Street, so today you get to find out that at No.10 is Heywood Hill, Ed can tell you the rest; “The novelist Evelyn Waugh claimed that this long-running bookshop was ‘a centre for all that was left of fashionable and intellectual London” during the Second World War, when the author Nancy Mitford worked as an assistant and customers included the society diarist Chips Channon and the designer Cecil Beaton.  Heywood Hill still retains its period charm, using hand written bills and selling books wrapped as parcels.’

Berkeley Square, W1 to Radipole Road, SW6 – I could bore you with what pain in the arse these punters were and how they wanted “a couple of blank receipts please mate” after giving me 20p tip, but that would be going off topic wouldn’t it?  Back to Berkeley Square then, and at No. 13 the Albemarle Club; ‘Oscar Wilde’s descent into public disgrace began at the Albemarle Club in February 1895, the day before the opening of his play The Importance of Being Ernest, when the Marquess of Queensberry, father of Lord Alfred Douglas, with whom Wilde was having an affair, left at the club a note which read: “To Oscar Wilde Posing Somdomite (sic)”.  Wilde issued libel proceedings and the peer was arrested for “unlawfully and maliciously publishing a certain defamatory libel.”  But when Wilde failed to win the case he was prosecuted for gross indecency – in effect sodomy, as opposed to somdomy – and sent to jail.  The club moved to 37 Dover Street in 1909 and the basement of No. 13 then became one of London’s first nightclubs, Uncle’s, designed as an American speakeasy with “hard liquor” served in paper cups.’

And there you have my short day in all it’s, er, glory.  I need some more jobs in the City, this is a bit West End & West London centric so far, wouldn’t you say?


3 thoughts on “the london compendium guide to my week – Day 3

    • Thanks for all your comments, I really appreciate them all, sorry I’m a bit slow responding! As for being added to you “blogroll” (can’t they find a better term for it? – lol) I consider it an honour. Hope you are well.

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