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Strands

‘The most interesting street in the world’

The first ever issue of the Strand Magazine was published in January 1891. Its opening sentence informs the reader: ‘The Editor of the Strand Magazine respectfully places his first number in the hands of the public’. In its inaugural issue, the magazine plays on the place of London’s Strand in the popular imagination as a…

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Pedestrianising the Strand south of Aldwych

Cherry blossom

A new public consultation, initiated by the City of Westminster, is currently  exploring the feasibility of pedestrianising the Strand south of Aldwych. The project, if approved, would create a new public space linking King’s College London, Somerset House and the historic church of St Mary le Strand, currently islanded in a sea of often slow moving traffic. It…

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The Future’s Yellow?

The new outdoor gym in the Embankment Gardens

Walking through Embankment Gardens at the end of January, I was half hopeful of seeing signs of the crocuses under the plane tree near the tube station: they normally appear as an early sign of spring. But lo, no crocus! An outdoor gym has sprung up instead. Meanwhile, remarkably early, at the other end of the…

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A Home Away From Home: The India Club exhibition

“This month, a new National Trust exhibition opens in London, shining a light on the rich social history of one of the city’s most fascinating community spaces: The India Club. Founded shortly after Indian independence by Krishna Menon, President Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, the India Club is perhaps better known for its close links with…

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“In the Bush… in the Strand”

Isn’t it suggestive? Just the very name makes one wish to know more. Why was a house named like that in central London, in the midst of the Strand? Perhaps a Mr. Bush ordered it built? Perhaps, mysteriously, there is a link to the nearby Australia House… That would be fascinating! When I was studying…

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Thirteen Lions

The Gunpowder Plotters meeting at the Duck and Drake, as rendered by Maz Hemming.

The work of illustrator, graphic designer and game maker Maz Hemming, Thirteen Lions is a webcomic retelling the story of the Gunpowder Plot. It’s now being published online in instalments. While the conspiracy is currently in its infancy, there’s already been a pivotal cameo for the Duck and Drake – the pub on the Strand…

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Anthony Heap’s Strand

Anthony Heap (1910-1985) kept a daily diary for nearly 57 years – from just before his 18th birthday in 1928 until 36 hours before his death in University College Hospital in October 1985. He was a Londoner who lived until 1932 with is parents in Gray’s Inn Road. Anthony attended St Clement Danes Grammar School…

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‘that Strand which is lost as Atlantis’: Arthur Machen’s memories of the Strand

Mystic, theatre critic, teller of weird tales and tramper of London’s obscurer byways and thoroughfares, Arthur Machen was also very fond of the Strand. Available through the Internet Archive (courtesy of the University of California libraries) his memoir of the 1870 and 1880s, Far Off Things (Martin & Secker, 1922) recounts ‘the first time I saw the Strand, and…

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Balloon on the Strand

A balloon

The history of crazes is an enormously rich subject. We seem to be in the middle of a craze for fidget spinners, of which all sorts of varieties are on sale in the Strand. In 1784, the Strand was a key location for what became, for two or three years, a mad craze for balloons…

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Souvenirs on the Strand

A Strand shop window

A recent walk along the Strand in search of fidget spinners led me to start thinking about souvenirs. Sadly the Strand doesn’t feature in London-themed merchandise – it’s not as cool as the other big streets. A couple of years ago I asked a souvenir seller why he didn’t have items with the Strand? He…

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