St John's Wood

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london-footprints.co.uk

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

[Lords] [Octavia Hill] [Department Store] [Theatre] [Cabmen's shelters] [Crocker's Folly] [mosque] [Sherlock Holmes] [Resources]

LORD’S CRICKET GROUND is the headquarters of the Marylebone Cricket Club. This was founded in 1787 by Thomas Lord. Originally in Dorset Square it moved to North Bank, St John’s Wood around 1810 when rents were due to be increased. Five years later it had to move again for the construction of the Regent’s Canal to its present location. Its famous pavilion was built in 1890 and Michael Hopkins built new stands in the 1980s. Most recently the Nat West Media Centre has been added.
Guided tours are available around the ground and museum on most days. Telephone 020 7432 1033 for availablity and bookings. There is an admission charge and dress code [
website].

OCTAVIA HILL
As well as being a founder of the National Trust Octavia was much concerned with social reform especially in regard to housing. In 1859 she moved with her family to Milton (now Balcombe) Street and taught at the Portman Hall School. In 1885 the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette WT Stead wrote about how he had procured a 13 year old girl Eliza Armstrong from her parents in Charles Street for £5. His campaign succeeded in getting the age of consent raised to 16 but earned Stead a jail sentence of 3 months. Octavia managed to get the stigmatised slums cleared and replaced with the present Almond & St Botolphs cottages in 1895 in re-named Ranston Street. Eliza is thought to be the inspiration for Eliza Doolittle in Shaw's Pygmalion.

DEPARTMENT STORE
Spencer, Turner & Boldero began as a linen drapers, taking over first numbers 60-74 Lisson Grove and later 75-93 to become a department store and wholesale warehouse. It employed 300 assistants and 200 needlewomen and there were staff dining rooms and a library & reading room. Beneath an ornate clocktower in Duke Street were stables for the horse-drawn delivery carts. It was demolished in 1970 and replaced by flats and a social security office.

THEATRE
The Royal Pavilion West which opened in January 1831 was constructed from two stableyards off Church Street. Seating 300 it put on pantomimes, farces, melodramas and dog-dramas. As an unlicensed establishment it was unable to take money at the door so people gained admission by buying a bun at the neighbouring coffee house! It became the Portman Theatre and staged 'Muder in the Red Barn' then continued unlicensed in 1836 as the Royal West London Theatre. In 1837 it was purchased by John Loveridge and was to remain in the same family until 1893. Loveridge purchased and demolished a property in Church Street to provide a new porticoed entrance. Renamed the Royal Marylebone Theatre and with a music license it was able to perform Shakespeare & drama and any play with a song. The seating capacity was increased to 2000 and in December 1842 it reopened as the New Theatre Royal, Marylebone. The Shakespeare and drama were less successful and it returned to comedies, melodramas and pantomime, often with a local setting. Under the management of Joseph Cave in 1858 'fantastic illusions' were produced with one of the earliest uses of electricity in the theatre. By 1896 it was known as the Royal West London Theatre and in 1904 the young Charlie Chaplin played Billy in 'Sherlock Holmes'. In 1906 there were exhibitions of moving pictures which gradually replaced drama. The New Biograph Trading Company took over in 1913 and renamed the West London Cinema it showed films, wrestling and boxing. The theatre came to an end in 1941 with bomb damage and was being used as a warehouse when it was finally destroyed by fire in 1962. A plaque by the library marks the site.

CABMEN’S SHELTERS – see [article]

CROCKER'S FOLLY
This curiously named pub, with its sign depicting a train, was built in 1898-9 by C H Worley for Frank Crocker as the Crown Hotel. The lavish interior included a grand saloon and two-table billard room. Crocker reckoned that the Great Central Railway from the Midlands would terminate near his premises and bring him lots of business but unfortunately Marylebone Station was built about a mile away. Several sources allege he went bankrupt and commited suicide by jumping from an upstairs window but he died a natural death in 1904. In 1983 its new owners adopted its nickname.

LONDON CENTRAL MOSQUE
The Mosque, part of the Islamic Cultural Centre, was completed in 1977 and designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd. It is open daily 8:30am-11pm and visitors are welcome. There is a dress code which includes the wearing of headscarves by women.
website

SHERLOCK HOLMES
221B Baker Street was the fictional address of Holmes, Dr Watson and Mrs Hudson. When Conan Doyle wrote the stories 221 did not exist - Baker Street north of Marylebone Road was Upper Baker Street. Many attempts have been made to identify the house using clues from the stories. 221 is now included in the Abbey National building. There is a small plaque and in the corner window a copy of the statue of Holmes which was set up outside Baker Street Station. Someone in the Abbey National office has to answer correspondence sent to Sherlock Holmes! To get a better idea of the style of Holmes' house have a look at number 239 which has been made into a Sherlock Holmes Museum [
website]

RESOURCES
This walk was compiled from information in the book ‘A Prospect of Westminster’ by Tony Aldous which includes an alternative route around the area.
An illustrated booklet 'Pineapples & Pantomimes - a history of Church Street and Lisson Green' by Erica McDonald and David J Smith is available to purchase at Westminster Archives (see below).

Further information on the area is available at the WESTMINSTER ARCHIVES [more info] [website]

© london-footprints.co.uk 2003

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