infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
Fitzrovia is an area of
central London, near London's West End. It is a formally designated area lying partly in the London Borough of Camden(in the east) and partly in the City of Westminster(in the west). It is bounded to the north by Euston Road, to the east by the Tottenham Court Road, to the south by Oxford Streetand to the west by Great Portland Street(or alternatively Portland Place).
Fitzrovia is named after the
Fitzroy Tavern, a public house on Charlotte Streetwithin the district. The name was adopted during the inter-war years initially by and later in recognition of the artistic and bohemiancommunity habitually found at the public house. [The Fitzroy: Autobiography of a London Tavern - Fiber and Williams (Book Guild Ltd, London) 1985.] The public house was named after Charles FitzRoy (later Baron Southampton), who first developed the northern part of the area in the 18th century. FitzRoy purchased the Manor of Tottenhalland built Fitzroy Square, to which he gave his name; nearby Fitzroy Street also bears his name. The square is the most distinguished of the original architectural features of the district, having been designed in part by Robert Adam. The south-western area was first developed by the Duke of Newcastle who established Oxford Market, now the area around Market Place. By the beginning of the 19th century this part of London was heavily built upon, severing one of the main routes through it, Marylebone Passage, into the tiny remnant that remains today on Wells Street, opposite what would have been the Tiger public house — now a rubber clothing emporium.
Much of Fitzrovia was developed by minor landowners, and this led to a predominance of small and irregular streets – in comparison with neighbouring districts like
Maryleboneand Bloomsbury, which were dominated by one or two landowners, and were thus developed more schematically, with stronger grid patterns and a greater number of squares.
Two of London's oldest surviving residential walkways can be found in Fitzrovia. Colville Place and the pre-Victorian Middleton Buildings (built circa 1825) are in the old London style of a
The most prominent feature of the area is the
BT Tower, Cleveland Street, which is one of London's tallest buildings and was open to the public until an IRA bomb exploded in the revolving restaurant in 1971. Another notable modern building is the Y.M.C.A. Indian Student Hospital on Fitzroy Square one of the few surviving buildings by Ralph Tubbs. The site of the Middlesex Hospital which occupies a large part of Fitzrovia was acquired by the property developer Candy and Candyand the hospital has now been demolished to make way for a new housing and retail development.
Business in Fitzrovia
In its early days it was largely an area of well-to-do tradesmen and craft workshops, with Edwardian mansion blocks built by the Quakers to allow theatre employees to be close to work. Nowadays property uses are diverse, but Fitzrovia is still well known for its fashion industry, now mainly comprising wholesalers and HQs of the likes of
FCUK. New media outfits have replaced the photographic studios of the 1970s–90s, often housed in warehouses built to store the changing clothes of their original industry — fashion. Charlotte Street was for many years the home of the British advertisingindustry and is now known for its many and diverse restaurants. Today the district still houses several major advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchiand TBWAas well as Fallon and Dare Digital. However, the modular ex-BT building occupied by McCann-Ericksonwas demolished in 2006 after the firm moved to an art decohome in Bloomsbury.
A number of television production and post-production companies are based in the area,
MTV Networks Europe, Nickelodeon and CNNEurope being headquartered here. ITNused to be based at 48 Wells Street during the 1980s, with its Factual Department still housed on Mortimer Street, and Channel 4was briefly situated on Charlotte Street. London's Time Outmagazine and City Guide is created and edited on Tottenham Court Road on the eastern border of Fitzrovia.
Reflecting Fitzrovia's connections with the avant-garde (see below) the area has a concentration of commercial art galleries and dealers.
A number of
structural engineering consultantsare based in offices on Newman Street and the world headquarters of Arupis on Fitzroy Street. There were once many hospitals (including Middlesex Hospital, which closed in 2006, and St Luke's Hospital for the Clergy, now re-opened after refurbishment). A handful of minor embassies ( El Salvador, Mozambique, Turkmenistanand Croatia) nestle amongst the many and varied public houses. Retail use spills into parts of Fitzrovia from Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, which are two of the principal shopping streets in central London.
Fitzrovia and the arts
Fitzrovia was a notable artistic and bohemian centre from a period dating roughly from the mid 1920s until the present day. Amongst those known to have lived locally and frequented public houses in the area such as the Fitzroy Tavern and the Wheatsheaf are
Augustus John, Quentin Crisp, Dylan Thomas, Aleister Crowley, the racing tipster Prince Monolulu, Nina Hamnettand George Orwell. Another pub in the area, the Newman Arms, features in Orwell's novels " Nineteen Eighty-Four" and " Keep the Aspidistra Flying" and in the Michael Powell film "Peeping Tom". Charles Laughtonand Elsa Lanchesterlived in a house on Tottenham Street that now has a Blue Plaque. George Bernard Shawand Virginia Woolflived at different times in the same house at 29 Fitzroy Square. Thomas Paine's " Rights of Man" was published during his residence at 154 New Cavendish Street, in reply to Edmund Burke(author of " Reflections on the Revolution in France"), who lived at 18 Charlotte Street. Arthur Rimbaudand Paul Verlainelived for a time in Howland Street in a house on a site now occupied by offices. The notable Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh and, later, the writer of "London's City of Spades" & "Absolute Beginners": Colin MacInnes in the 60's & 70's at (28 Tottenham Street) in the home of their publisher.
Saul Bellow's " The Dean's December", the eponym, Corde dines at the Étoile, Charlotte Street, on his trips to London, and thinks he "could live happily ever after on Charlotte Street" [p. 81] ; Ian McEwanquotes this in "Saturday" [p. 123] ; McEwan lives in Fitzroy Square, and his novel takes pace in the area. Chartistmeetings were hosted in the area, some attended by Karl Marx, who is known to have been to venues at Charlotte Street, Tottenham Streetand Rathbone Place. The area became a ganglion of Chartist activities after the Reform Act 1832and was host to a number of working men's clubs including The Communist Club at 49 Tottenham Street.
UFO Club, home to Pink Floydduring their spell as the house band of psychedelicLondon, was held in the basement of 31 Tottenham Court Road on the eastern border of Fitzrovia. Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrixalso played at the Speakeasy on Margaret Street and Bob Dylan made his London debut at the King & Queen pub on Foley Street. Oxford Street's 100 Clubis a major hot-bed for music from the Sixtiesto the present day, and has roots in 1970s Britain's burgeoning Punk rockmovement. The band Coldplayformed in Ramsay Hall, a University College Londonaccommodation on Maple Street in Fitzrovia.
Fitzrovia is also the location of
Pollock's Toy Museum, home to erstwhile popular Toy Theatre, at 1 Scala Street.
At the back of Pollocks and in the next block was the site in 1772 of the Scala Theatre, Tottenham Street – then known as the Cognoscenti Theatre – but it had many names over history: the King's Concert Rooms, the New Theatre, the Regency Theatre, the West London Theatre, the Queen's Theatre, the Fitzroy Theatre, the Prince of Wales and the Royal Theatre until its demolition in 1903 when the Scala Theatre was built on the site for Frank Verity and modelled on La Scala in Milan. It was home to music hall, ballet and pantomime. Before its demolition in 1969, to make way for the office block and hotel that exists now, it was used inside for the filming in 1964 of the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night, the Mr Universe World competitions, and Sotheby's Auction in 1968 of the Diaghilev costumes and curtains. It was also briefly in the 70's, in the basement of the office block, the site of the Scala Cinema and later still of Channel 4 Television. The branch of Bertorelli's Italian Restaurant on Charlotte Street was prominently featured in the film "
Two excellent books exist about the area known as Fitzrovia: Characters of Fitzrovia by Mike Pentelow & Marsha Rowe, 2001, Felix Dennis: Pimlico press (ISBN 0-7126-8015-2)and Fitzrovia by Nick Bailey Historical Publications,1981
Southbank International Schoolhas two of its campuses located within the area, one on Portland Place and another on Conway street (just off Warren Street). The Conway campus houses students from grade 11 and 12 where they study the IB Diploma Programme.
:"For education in the western portion of Fitzrovia see the main City of Westminster article."
Location in context
Nearest railway station
* Euston to the north
Nearest tube stations
Great Portland Street tube station
Goodge Street tube station
Oxford Circus tube station
Tottenham Court Road tube station
Warren Street tube station
Regent's Park tube station
* [http://www.eleflat.co.uk/Fitzrovia-80_W1-2007-council-tax.htm Fitzrovia, Westminster council tax bands and charges]
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