Last year I took a walk around the City at Christmas. A time of year when construction stops, the majority of office workers take a long Christmas / New Year break, and the streets take on a silence not seen at any other time during the year. For this year, I took a walk around the West End at Christmas to find a very different city, one that was still busy. Streets, shops, restaurants, theatres and pubs all still crowded.
Whenever I walk, I always take photos. I have learnt from my father’s photos and any old photo in general that even the most ordinary scene is of interest, and with the rapid state of change across London, streets and buildings can look very different in just a few years.
For a New Year’s Day post, join me for a short walk and a sample of photos that hopefully bring across the atmosphere of the West End at Christmas.
I started in the Strand, just off Trafalgar Square.
The first photo is of one of my pet hates – the renaming of an area which comprises streets which already have their own distinct identity. Here the “Northbank” is bringing together Trafalgar Square, Strand and Aldwych.
The “Northbank” is a Business Improvement District (BID) created by the business community in the area. The “Northbank’s” website explains: “With a shrinking public sector threatening the breadth and longevity of some council services, BIDs are able to carry out additional services bespoke to the needs of the local community” . Whilst I can understand the motivation, this appears to be another symptom of the under-funding of Councils and transfer of services to a potentially unaccountable private sector.
There are a number of Business Improvement Districts across London and the Mayor of London / London Assembly web site has more details.
Leaving the Strand, I walked up Charing Cross Road and then along Cecil Court. These individual shops always look good as dusk falls.
Up St. Martin’s Lane to photograph and have a last look around Stanfords in Long Acre before the store closes in mid January to reopen nearby in Mercer Walk.
Back up Upper St. Martin’s Lane and a crowd of Father Christmases, with many more following behind.
Laptops and mobile phones:
The Two Brewers, Monmouth Street:
Leaving Monmouth Street, along St. Giles High Street and into Denmark Street to see what remains of the street:
Hanks is holding out:
Westside at number 24 surrounded by scaffolding:
Regent Sounds, also surrounded by scaffolding:
Rose Morris, guitars and drums:
The new Foyles store in Charing Cross Road. I was really sorry to see the old Foyles store disappear, but it is good that the book shop is still in Charing Cross Road, and that this building remains as it was here that my father went to college and used the basement as a bomb shelter.
Down Charing Cross Road, then I turned into Shaftesbury Avenue:
Along Coventry Street and an alternative method to see Christmas Lights, however I prefer walking:
The 453 to Deptford Bridge leaves Piccadilly Circus:
Down to Waterloo Place:
Walking the streets of London at any time of year is a pleasure, however in the week’s before Christmas the streets of the West End provide a different perspective to the rest of the year. The same shops, theatres, all you can eat buffets, pubs, hotels, clubs, restaurants, but all looking a bit different, however with the same underlying commercial drive to make money.
Thank you all for reading my blog during the last year, for the comments and e-mails and helping me to learn more about the city.
The days are now slowly starting to get longer and I am looking forward to lots more walking and exploring across London during 2019. A very Happy New Year to you all.
Happy New Year to you and thank you for your interesting blog. I do enjoy receiving the updates and I have learned so much about London. I studied and worked there in the 70s and early 80s with a copy of Pevsner’s London Vol 1 always with me. Between classes and also in the days of a proper lunch hour, I explored to my heart’s content always having loved history. Thank you for rekindling this feeling and taking me back. I now live ‘downunder’ and I doubt I’ll visit London again, but I still have my Pevsner and now your blog! Wishing you many happy and interesting walks in 2019.
That was a lovely post to end one year and start a new one with. I’ve looked forward to your new posts every week; really wonderful history. Thank you, and have a fab 2019!
A Happy New Year to you and yours. I do so enjoy your posts.
Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2019
I have enjoyed your blog immensely & learn more about London as time goes on, thanks to both your Father’s photos and of yours
Caulfield South. Melb Aust
A lovely reminder of London at Christmas. As a child in the late 40s and 50s I always loved the trip into the centre of London to see the lights and join in the carols in Trafalgar Square.
really enjoy all of your photos I am from West London now living in East Sussex and have worked near many of the areas
Another fascinating account of London. Your photography has really captured the colours and atmosphere of Chirstmas. Did you use your camera phone? John
Happy New Year, thanks for the posts.
Wonderful posts. Looking forward to reading many more in 2019. Happy New year.
A happy New Year to you and many thanks for your blog. My wife and I (We live in Paris) visit London three or four times a year, unfortunately, because of limited time, we stick to just a very few areas (museums, Piccadilly, Saint James’s mostly). Your posts allow me to vicariously explore all the many parts of this fascinating city we have not seen yet. One day, perhaps…
A really great reminder of when I worked in london in the 60’s and explored these streets for myself.
I spent many hours browsing the bookshops in Cecil Court and surroundings.
Thanks for the memories and all your other blogs throughout ’18.
I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful new year and look forward to receiving more in ’19.
I worked in Russell Square at the Senate House in the 60’s and my father worked in Fenchurch St as a coffee importer all his working life. Before this, our ancestors lived and worked in the East End and Holborn. I have a deep interest in the history of the city which is why I appreciate so much your wonderful blog and the superb photos which highlight all the interesting areas I would otherwise not know about. Thank you so much and I look forward very much to following your adventures through 2019. Happy New Year!
I so enjoy seeing London and surrounds through your eye (and your dad’s). Thank you and happy new year!
Thank you for your posts,and a happy new year with lots of new posts.
A very happy and healthy New Year to you and yours, and thank you for your and your father’s photos and your writing.
Would like reiterate the other reply -happy New year.
Childhood visits to London from Kent to see the lights and shop at John Lewis in the 1960`s with the family bring back memories. Adult ones too living in London in the late 1970`s and going to see the shops at Christmas time.
Many thanks for another reminder of the better side of London, though I prefer and remember the 70s as being more exciting particularly as a messenger delivering to the NME in Long Acre, nights out at Crackers night club in Wardour Street and also that my Mum was the tea lady in Foyles for a couple years.
Thank you again for the blog of which, over one year on from discovering your work, I’m still glued to reading (almost) every Sunday morning! The work you’re doing is incredible, I just hope this somehow gets preserved in an archive of some sort for decades / centuries to come so the hard work you’ve put in is never lost.
Happy new year and I look forward for what’s to come!