Coventry Street

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Looking eastwards on Coventry Street towards the Trocadero shopping centre

Coventry Street is a short street in the West End of London, connecting Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square.

History[edit]

The street runs east from Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square via Haymarket and Wardour Street. It was constructed in 1681 as a throughfare between the two places and was named after the politician Henry Coventry, secretary of state to Charles II.[1][2]

The street had been designed for commercial and entertainment purposes, rather than a place of residence. The goldsmiths Lamberts were based at Nos. 10-12 Coventry Street in 1803 until the premises were demolished shortly after World War I.[2] Charles Hirsch, a French bookseller, sold French literature and ran a clandestine trade in expensive pornography from his bookshop "Librairie Parisienne" in Coventry Street between 1890 and 1900.[3][4][5]

Diners at the Lyons Corner House on Coventry Street in 1942

The street has been a centre for high-volume food outlets.[6] The first (1909) J. Lyons and Co. Corner House was on the west corner with Rupert Street. [7]

In the 1920s, the street became a centre for nightclubs, attracting clientele such as Edward, Prince of Wales, Rudolph Valentino, Noel Coward, Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin. The Café De Paris opened in 1924 in the basement of the Rialto Cinema and became a popular club through the rest of the decade due the owner Martin Poulsen's friendship with the Prince of Wales.[8] On 8 March 1941, the Cafe and much of Coventry Street suffered significant damage from bombing, killing 84 people including Poulsen, though former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, visiting the cafe, survived.[2] It was rebuilt after the war.[9]

The Prince of Wales Theatre is on Coventry Street, as is the Trocadero shopping centre.[2]

Cultural references[edit]

The street is in a group on the British Monopoly board with Leicester Square and Piccadilly.[10]

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ Moore 2003, p. 97.
  2. ^ a b c d Hibbert & Weinreb 2010, p. 215.
  3. ^ Chris White, "Nineteenth-century writings on homosexuality: a sourcebook", CRC Press, 2002, ISBN 0-203-00240-7, p.285
  4. ^ Matt Cook, "London and the culture of homosexuality, 1885-1914", Cambridge studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture, Cambridge University Press, 2003 ISBN 0-521-82207-6, p.28
  5. ^ Joseph Bristow, "Remapping the Sites of Modern Gay History: Legal Reform, Medico‐Legal Thought, Homosexual Scandal, Erotic Geography", Journal of British Studies 46 (January 2007) 116–142. doi:10.1086/508401
  6. ^ Marc Jacobs, Peter Scholliers, "Eating out in Europe: picnics, gourmet dining, and snacks since the late eighteenth century", Berg Publishers, 2003, ISBN 1-85973-658-0, pp.306-307
  7. ^ Museum of London "London The Illustrated History" ISBN 978-0-141-01159-2 p243
  8. ^ Moore 2003, pp. 98-99.
  9. ^ Moore 2003, p. 104.
  10. ^ Moore 2003, p. 86.

Sources

Coordinates: 51°30′37″N 0°07′58″W / 51.5102°N 0.1328°W / 51.5102; -0.1328