People on the Strand: John Nourse and Francis Wingrave, booksellers

Nowadays, tracking down out of print books involves a quick email or checking booksellers’ websites. Two or three centuries ago, anyone hunting rare volumes wrote to booksellers and other collectors although few examples of this correspondence survive. During the 18th century the Strand was a flourishing centre for London’s book trade and associated industries, including…

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Billy Waters: The Busker of the West End

Thus poor Black Billy’s made his Will, His Property was small good lack, For till the day death did him kill His house he carried on his back. The Adelphi now may say alas! And to his memory raise a stone: Their gold will be exchanged for brass, Since poor Black Billy’s dead and gone.…

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The Right to Protest

It’s incredible what you come across on a small walk along the Strand. I was walking towards the Temple tube station after finishing an interview with the India Club’s Phiroza Marker, when I came across a small gathering of 6 people outside a gated building. I didn’t know what the building was or who the people…

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The Strand’s Arisings

Like many Strandliners I was away from the Strand during Covid-19 lockdowns. A long absence! Seventeen months! What would it be like after so long? On my first day back in London, I thought a stroll along the Strand was in order, to catch a little of the atmosphere of cautious reanimating and contribute to…

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Kingsway’s Ghost Station: London’s first underground tramway

For seventy years now, the once-bustling environment on the platforms of Kingsway Tram Tunnel has been displaced by darkness and disuse. Previously a key transit point connecting north and south London, the tunnel now fades into the backdrop of Kingsway’s ceaseless motor and pedestrian traffic. Opened in 1906, Kingsway’s Tunnel was fully operative for only…

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Temple Church: Magna Carta and the Knights Templar

The filming location of the Da Vinci Code [2006], survivor of the Fire of London and WW2 bombing,  a secret meeting place of a back-stabbing king, the core of the City’s major legal district, and London’s first bank – Temple Church has witnessed milestones in English history. In medieval London there were ‘more churches than…

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Savoy to Albemarle: The Tale of Wilde’s Demise

The Savoy On the 2nd March 1893, the Savoy Hotel’s adjoining rooms 362 and 361 were checked into by an Oscar Wilde rapidly approaching the apogee of his dramatic career. Soon to be joined by Lord Alfred Douglas – or ‘Bosie’ – to whom Wilde had been introduced some two years earlier, the pair would…

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