Monday, 30 September 2013

Observations from London's West End, W.C.

 "Going up West" for the Cockney, the East Ender born within the sound of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow, was always to be a posh occasion; theatres, cinemas, restaurants, clubs, fashionable shopping. Compared to the City of London, the West End has always been livelier, a centre of entertainment rather than finances.

But there's more to the West End than Oxford Street shops, Theatreland and Leicester Square cinemas. You need to look up; look for history and then you will catch the real character. Above: St Giles-in-the-Fields, 'the poets' church'.

Below: 'Established 1830' - James Smith & Sons, Umbrellas on New Oxford St. A most splendid shop, very popular with American and Japanese tourists. Heritage cannot be imitated.

Below: today, a Pizza Express. Back in Edwardian times, the Dairy Supply Company Limited, on Coptic Street (and round the corner on Little Russell Street), London, West Central One.

Below: the Victorian church hall at the rear of St George's, Bloomsbury. A grimy building which reminds me of the state London was in before the sandblasting that restored most of the capital's edifices in the wake of the 1955 Clean Air Act. The church itself, in the background, is nice and clean; back in the 1960s, it was as grimy as the church hall. The sooty sombreness was how the London of my childhood appeared.

Left: Corner of Rose St. and Floral St., London W.C.1. The architecture is something to revel in; exquisite Victorian brickwork paying homage to the Gothic.

Below: Corner of Newton St. and Macklin St., London, W.C.2. St. Joseph's Catholic primary school. The building's rustic low-rise simplicity is at odds with the grandeur of the surroundings, just off Covent Garden.

Edwardian commercial where Monmouth St. (left) runs into leafy Shaftesbury Ave. (right). You are entering Theatreland. The shop on the corner will sell you tickets to the long-running jukebox musicals that seem to make up the bulk of the capital's theatrical fare this millennium.

Below: a benefactor remembered - Marmaduke Langdale provided this drinking fountain (not currently working) on Endell St. This plaque and the fountain below it were saved when the original building it was part of was knocked down.

London has a vast amount of character; but you won't find it unless you look up above eye level, and you actively seek the spirit of what once was the greatest city on earth.

1 comment:

Alexander said...

A very interesting journey through London. I used to visit the city at least once a year. My father is from Hampstead, and my parents got maaried in London.
But now I have "obligations" in Warsaw, a great city too.

Thank you for the Original sites and sounds of both cities.

Best regards,