Fascinating evolution of London’s West End explored in online talk – now available to watch

On the evening of Monday March 1st, the Streatham Society hosted a very interesting online talk by Professor Rohan McWilliams entitled “London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914” 

Detailing the evolution of the area as a shopping and entertainment destination, there were a number of fascinating changes which the area went through in the nineteenth century to become an early version of what we still recognise today as the West End.

I was surprised to hear that one of the most important developments were the provision of ladies’ lavatories. Something that the West End theatres could certainly still do with a lot more of, over a century later!

We also learned where the colonnades which originally lined Regent Street were removed to – and why they had to be removed in the first place!

Fascinating glimpses of an evolution which embraced panoramas, music halls, and so much more, this was an enlightening way to spend an hour.

You can enjoy a recording of the talk which is now available here  

Thanks to the Streatham Society for yet another interesting talk.


London Open House, 21/22 September – bookings now open!

The largest festival of architecture and building design in the world, London Open House 2019 is coming in September, and the full programme has now gone live on their website.

Every September since 1992, London Open House has enabled public access to 800+ buildings, many of which are inaccessible at any other time of the year, with associated walks, talks and tours over one very busy weekend, now attracting over a quarter of a million people annually.

Run by a small team supported by volunteers, the astonishing breadth of London’s building design is celebrated by gaining rare access to private and restricted buildings.

Happily, entertainment buildings such as theatres and cinemas are also enthusiastically taking part, and it is this category which I want to tell you about.

22 theatres and 5 cinemas are listed in this year’s offerings, ranging from the grandeur of Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s freshly-refurbished Victoria Palace Theatre to the Victorian charms of Hoxton Hall and Wilton’s Music Hall, to more modern offerings such as the National Theatre. All will be open for exploration via tours and/or talks on-site. Tucked away in the “entertainment” category is the first cinema to be Grade-I listed, the incredible Tooting Granada (now rather cheesily-titled Buzz Bingo, but inside still an awe-inspiring and richly-detailed movie palace)

Please note that some sites require advance booking while others do not. Do check with the Open House website on each venue’s individual listing page for full details. Also, a lot of venues will open on just one day of the weekend, not both, so do please check before you travel.

At the website you can check buildings by category and also by location to help you find Open House buildings near to you. Don’t miss this once-a-year opportunity!

Find out more at the website which you can find here