The forgotten history of Mortimer Street and its artistic community

A history of Mortimer Street and its artistic connections will be uncovered in a talk this month given by a curator from the Museum of London. Mortimer Street in Fitzrovia has a hidden artistic history. The streets around Mortimer Street in Fitzrovia became the base for figures as diverse as Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Karl …

Oxford Street – from Perry’s Place to Wells Street

As reported previously, The Survey of London has published its latest volume, for the first time devoted to a single thoroughfare -- Oxford Street. The Survey, founded in 1894, is a research project to produce a comprehensive architectural survey of central London and its suburbs. In this second look at the publication, we focus on …

The 200-year-old cosmopolitan and architectural allure of Oxford Street

Front of buildings on street.

The Survey of London has published its latest volume, for the first time devoted to a single thoroughfare -- Oxford Street. Survey of London, Oxford Street. Oxford Street in 2018. To the left, the former Lyons Oxford Corner House at Nos 14–24. Composite image. Survey of London, Oxford Street. Chris Redgrave. Historic England Archive. The …

The artist Harry Jonas – ‘Last of the Fitzrovians’

Row of buildings.

By Robert Cunning I first met Harry Jonas in the early 1980s. I was a volunteer with Islington social services, and a message came in to help an ageing artist, who thought he was the best painter in Britain. Harry Jones lived at 35 Maple Street (with arched window). Photographed in 1969. Source: London Metropolitan …

Soho’s lost post-war living room of badly behaved bohemians

The Colony Room in Dean Street W1 was a living-room-sized drinking club for members only, above an Italian restaurant up a long dirty staircase. It was at the heart of a post-war Soho packed with pubs, clubs and restaurants full of people wanting to get off their heads on drink or drugs, debate, argue, and …

The barbarous treatment of slaves was for the benefit of local gentry

The barbarous and cruel treatment of slaves, described by Mary Prince from her own experience, greatly helped the campaign for abolition. Mary Prince. Illustration by Clifford Harper. She was working as a charwoman at 4 Keppel Street (opposite Store Street) in 1829 after fleeing her slave owner John Wood (1783-1836) of Leigh Street, Bloomsbury. Wood …

Artist Harry Jonas was helped by actor Oliver Reed in a campaign to save buildings on Maple Street

Row of buildings.

An early campaigner to preserve the Georgian and Victorian buildings in Fitzrovia was artist Harry Jonas, who lived at 35 Maple Street. Our attention was drawn to this recently from a reader who is researching the life of artist Harry Jonas (1893-1990) and wanted to know if we had any information on the campaign to …

Investigation of former hospital and workhouse site reveals intact human burial remains

An archaeological investigation at the Middlesex Hospital Annex and former Strand Union Workhouse site has recovered 55 intact human burials dating from 1780 to 1853 from three test trenches dug into the ground. The findings are revealed in a report by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) which concludes that "archaeological deposits survive extensively across the …

A new history of Fitzrovia shows a rich mixture of workers, migrants, intellectuals and villains

Life on the edge, both geographically and socially, is the theme of this book. Colourful examples come from fake antique dealers, dodgy second hand car salesmen, and a variety of villains. Many honest and underpaid workers in the furniture trade, the clothing industry, show business, and restaurants are also included. And a rich mix of …

The life and changing times of the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre

Newspaper front page.

The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre, which will be closing in June, was a product of its time and was one of several community advice centres being established across Camden and other inner London boroughs in the 1970s. The opportunity arose as a result of funding provided by the Home Office to tackle inner city problems. This …

Wreath-laying and rededication at restored Rangers Memorial for Armistice Centenary

Stone monument.

The recently restored London Rangers Cenotaph in Chenies Street will be rededicated at a wreath-laying ceremony at this year's Remembrance Sunday, the one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice. The memorial has been restored as part of Camden's West End Project and will form an end piece at the northern end of a new public open …

Guided walks explore London’s history of sexual diversity

Front of pub.

Two fundraising guided walks to support international LGBT activists will take place in September and uncover the hidden sexual history of some familiar surroundings. London-based activist Richard Cohen is leading the guided tours, in affiliation with the Amnesty International Mayfair and Soho group, showcasing the fascinating heritage of London’s LGBT community. The walks take in …

Human remains ‘should be anticipated’ at former workhouse site

Human remains from an historic burial ground at the former workhouse building in Fitzrovia are very likely to still exist and would have to be removed before any redevelopment of the site says a report from Museum of London Archaeology. The report is a desk-based analysis and draws together evidence from historical records and the results …

Why is there no blue plaque for Doris Lessing in Langham Street?

Front of mansion block.

Did you know that Doris Lessing lived in Holbein Mansion, Langham Street from 1958 to 1962? She rented a flat from her publisher, Howard Samuels, for £5 a week. Doris Lessing (1919 – 2013) was one of the foremost post-war British novelists, the author of some fifty novels, plays and volumes of poetry and autobiography. She …

Excavation reveals post-medieval pits and potential Civil War fort

Two men in underground structure.

An excavation between Rathbone Place and Newman Street in Fitzrovia has uncovered a number of interesting and unique finds according to an archaeology fieldwork report. The investigation carried out between November 2014 and March 2015 found a series of post-medieval walls, drains and brick-lined pits, constructed on the site in the late 18th century, as well as 19th century …

Gresse Street and Stephen Street before redevelopment in the 1970s

Gap between Victorian buildings.

Just to the west of the lower end of Tottenham Court Road only a few buildings in Stephen Street and Gresse Street survived the huge redevelopment of the Gort Estate in the mid-1970s. In the foreground on the left hand side of the picture below are the Stephen Buildings, and in the mid-ground on the left is …

Tottenham Court Road before redevelopment in the 1970s

Blue Posts pub and single storey buildings along Tottenham Court Road.

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. This was what …

Wreaths laid at Chenies Street war memorial

Three wreaths at memorial.

Wreaths were laid today at the Chenies Street war memorial near the former headquarters of The Rangers regiment. Three wreaths were placed at the base of the memorial for Remembrance Sunday and as part of commemorations marking the centenary of the start of the First World War. The Chenies Street monument is in memorial to The Rangers …