The southern part of Tottenham Court Road is again undergoing large scale change with redevelopment of the Central Cross building on the west side and on the east side the former Time Out building has now been completely demolished. Another chapter in the story of the road that originally led to Tottenhall Manor House.

Blue Posts pub and single storey buildings along Tottenham Court Road.
The “shack site” from junction with Hanway Street to Tudor Place in 1974. The single-storey “shacks” including the Blue Posts pub on the corner with Hanway Street actually outlasted the taller building further north up the street.

This was what part of the western side of Tottenham Court Road looked like in the early 1970s before the buildings were demolished to make way for what was then known as the EMI building and what is today called Central Cross.

In this series of photographs taken by persons unknown a row of former buildings in streets between Hanway Street and Percy Street can be seen.

The row of buildings from number 17 Tottenham Court Road opposite the junction with Bedford Avenue heading north nearly as far as the junction with Percy Street were demolished in the mid-1970s to make way for what was known as the EMI building.

The tattier single-storey “shack” buildings were demolished 20 years later in the mid-1990s and were replaced by the four-storey building housing Sainbury’s and Barclays Bank.

Number 17 Tottenham Court Road and the southern end of the row of buildings. The road on the right is the entrance to Tudor Place. The pedestrian crossing still stands in the same place today.

The buildings were part of what was called The Gort Estate and the photographs are from the Fitzrovia Archive at the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association and Fitzrovia News offices. My previous article on The Gort Estate described the now demolished Tudor Place which stood behind this row of buildings and south of the junction with Stephen Street.

These photographs were taken between 1972 and 1974 by persons unknown but probably active in campaigning to preserve housing and buildings. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, they largely failed on this occasion.

Tottenham Court Road at junction with Tudor Place. The low-rise building on the left is on the site of the Black Horse Pub.

Tottenham Court Road was built upon in a relatively haphazard way from the early 18 century.

The progress of building along Tottenham Court Road is indicated by the petition to the Commissioners of Sewers from John Hassell and others in 1720, that the common sewer being choked by mud and filth, might be cleared. In 1722 he applied for leave to enlarge the sewer on the west side of Tottenham Court Road before several houses belonging to him, the sewer being too small. The surveyor reported that the frontage was 410 feet, upon which there were then erected or intended to be erected 15 houses next the road, with a stable yard backwards (Black Horse Yard, alias Tudor Place). The frontage of 410 feet extended from the Black Horse to the corner of Percy Street. — Survey of London.

North of the junction with Tudor Place. Building on the left was a branch of F W Woolworth and Company Limited, 20-21 Tottenham Court Road, which opened in 1924 and closed around 1970.
24 Tottenham Court Road.

Number 24 Tottenham Court Road was a members only cinema.

In 1969, it was purchased by the Cinecenta group and refurbished into a luxury ‘members only’ cinema, playing uncensored Continental sex films. It re-opened on 11 September 1968, as Cineclub 24, with the Swedish sex film “As the Naked Wind From the Sea” starring Hans Gustafsson. The ‘24’ in the name derives from its street address on Tottenham Court Road. With a reduced seating capacity of 250, it had luxury armchair style seats, and it was a very popular cinema, due to its central location and its ambience. It was allowed to screen uncensored films, due to its policy of membership only, and being located within the boundry of Labour controlled Camden Council, rather than the more prudish (Conservative run) Westminster City Council, which covers most of the West End of London.

The Cineclub 24 was closed on 24th December 1976, due to planned redevelopment of that section of Tottenham Court Road, and a parade of shops with offices above, was built, currently the Sony Centre Galleria is at this exact address. — from Cinema Treasures.

This stretch of Tottenham Court Road captured in this series of photographs illustrates the wide variety of styles of architecture from Geogian, through Victorian, Edwardian, art deco; as well as a hotch-potch of post-WW2 and 1960s refurbishments at ground floor level.

Corner building.
27 Tottenham Court Road at junction with Stephen Street. The Ofrex building on the right is now home to the BFI.
Cinema building
Berkeley cinema building. The UFO club where Pink Floyd played was in the basement in the 1960s for a short time.
Continentale cinema building is on the site of today’s Odeon Tottenham Court Road.
Corner building.
Tottenham Court Road at the junction with Percy Street. The two shorter buildings on the right remain today.

In the next series of photographs I’ll look at the buildings behind Tottenham Court Road to the west in Gresse Street and Stephen Street.

These photographs were part of an exhibition Lost Fitzrovia: The Gort Estate and Tottenham Court Road, held at the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association as part of the Fitzrovia Festival 2013.

24 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia, London W1T, UK