:"For the area in
New York City, see SoHo. For other uses, see Soho (disambiguation)."Infobox UK place
map_type= Greater London
constituency_westminster= Cities of London and Westminster
Soho is an area in the centre of the West End of
London, England, in the City of Westminster. It is an entertainment district which for much of the later part of the 20th century had a reputation for its sex shops as well as its night life and film industry. Since the early 1980s the area has undergone considerable transformation and is now a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices with only a small remnant of "sex industry" venues in the west of the area. [ [http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/whatson/soho-london-feature-1710.html Soho London - Local information for Soho London, Soho Restaurants and Bars ] ]
Soho has an area of approximately one square mile and may be thought of as bounded by
Oxford Streetto the north, Regent Streetto the west, Leicester Squareto the south and Charing Cross Roadto the east. However apart from Oxford Street, all of these roads are nineteenth century metropolitan improvements, so they are not Soho's original boundaries, and it has never been an administrative unit, with formally defined boundaries. The area to the west is known as Mayfair, to the north Fitzrovia, to the east St Giles'sand Covent Garden, and to the south St James's. According to the Soho Society, Chinatown, the area between Leicester Squareto the south and Shaftesbury Avenue to the north is part of Soho, although some consider it a separate area.
Location in context
The area which is now Soho was grazing farmland until 1536, when it was taken by Henry VIII as a royal park for the
Palace of Whitehall. The name “Soho” first appears in the 17th century. Most authorities believe that the name derives from the old “soho!” hunting call (“Soho! There goes the fox!” etc.). [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=41023 'Estate and Parish History', Survey of London: volumes 33 and 34: St Anne Soho (1966), pp. 20-6] accessed: 17 May 2007] [ Adrian Room, "A Concise Dictionary of Modern Place-Names in Great Britain and Ireland", page 113 ] [John Richardson, "The Annals of London", page 156 ] ["Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable", page number varies according to edition] The Duke of Monmouth used “soho” as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor, [ Arthur Mee, "The King's England: London", page 233] half a century after the name was first used for this area of London.
In the 1660s the Crown granted Soho Fields to
Henry Jermyn, 1st Earl of St Albans. He leased 19 of its 22 acres to Joseph Girle, who as soon as he had gained permission to build there, promptly passed his lease and licence to bricklayer Richard Frith in 1677, who began its development. In 1698 William III granted the Crown freehold of most of this area to William, Earl of Portland. Meanwhile the southern part of what became the parish of St AnneSoho was sold by the Crown in parcels in the 16th and 17th century, with part going to Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester.
Despite the best intentions of landowners such as the Earls of Leicester and Portland to develop the land on the grand scale of neighbouring
Bloomsbury, Maryleboneand Mayfair, it never became a fashionable area for the rich, and immigrants settled in the area: the French church in Soho Square is witness to its position as a centre for French Huguenotsin the 17th and 18th centuries. By the mid 1700s the aristocrats who had been living in Soho Square or Gerrard Street had moved away. Soho’s character stems partly from the ensuing neglect by rich and fashionable London, and its lack of development and redevelopment that characterizes its neighbouring areas.
By the mid 1800s all respectable families had moved away and prostitutes, music halls and small theatres had moved in. In the early 1900s foreign nationals opened cheap eating-houses and it became a fashionable place to eat for intellectuals, writers and artists. From the 1930s to the early 1960s, Soho folklore states that the pubs of Soho were packed every night with drunken writers, poets and artists, many of whom never stayed sober long enough to become successful; and it was also during this period that the Soho pub landlords established themselves.
A detailed mural depicting a variety of Soho characters including writer
Dylan Thomasand jazz musician George Mellyis in Broadwick Street, at the junction with Carnaby Street.
The Soho name has been imitated by other entertainment and restaurant districts such as
Soho, Hong Kong, SoHo, New York, and Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires.
Broad Street pump
A significant event in the history of
epidemiologyand public healthwas the study of an 1854 outbreak of cholerain Soho by Dr. John Snow. [ [http://www.makingthemodernworld.org.uk/learning_modules/geography/05.TU.01/?section=2 Making the Modern World — John Snow and the Broad Street pump ] ] He identified the cause of the outbreak as the public water pumplocated at the junction of Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) and Cambridge Street (now Lexington Street), close to the rear wall of what is today the "John Snow" public house.
John Snow mapped the addresses of the sick, and noted that they were mostly people whose nearest access to water was the Broad Street pump. He persuaded the authorities to remove the handle of the pump, thus preventing any more of the infected water being collected. The spring below the pump was later found to be contaminated with sewage. This is an early example of
epidemiology, public health medicine and the application of science—the germ theory of disease— in real time. [Steven Johnson, The Ghost Map (The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World), Riverhead Books, New York 2006, pp.299]
The 2006 appearance of the places related to the Broad Street Pump outbreak of cholera is described here:
A replica of the pump, with a memorial plaque, now stands near the location of the original pump.
The music scene in Soho can be traced back to 1948 and
Club Elevenwhich is generally revered as the fountainhead of modern jazz in the UK. It was located at 41 Great Windmill Street. The Harmony Inn was an unsavoury cafe and hang-out for musicians on Archer Street operating during the 1940s and 1950s. It stayed open very late attracting jazz fans from the nearby Cy LaurieJazz Club.
Soho was the setting for
Brecht's famous song Mack The Knife:
Ken ColyerBand's 51 Club ("Great Newport Street") opened in the eary fifties. Blues guitarist and harmonica player Cyril Daviesand guitarist Bob Watson launched the London Skiffle Centre, London’s first skiffleclub, on the first floor of the Roundhouse pub on Wardour Street in 1952 [London Timeline. http://londonrockandpop.com/page5.htm] .
In the early 1950s, Soho became the center of the
Beatnikculture in London. Coffee Bars like Le Macabre (Wardour Street) which had coffin shaped tables, fostered beat poetry, jive dance and political debate. The Goings On located in Archer Street [The Goings On. http://londonrockandpop.com/page3.htm ] was and Sunday afternoon club, organised by Liverpool beat poets Pete Brown, Johnny Byrneand Spike Hawkins, that opened in January 1966. For the rest of the week it operated as an illegal gambling den. Other “beat” coffee bars in Soho included the French, Le Grande, Stockpot, Melbray, Universal, La Roca, Freight Train ( Skifflestar Chas McDevitt’s place) [ [http://www.geocities.com/adie_barrett/story/kidd1960-1.htm "Shakin' All Over".] ] , El Toro, Picasso, Las Vegas, and the Moka Bar.
2 i’sCoffee Bar ("live acts performed in the tiny basement") was probably the first rock club in Europe, opened in 1956 ("59 Old Compton Street") and soon Soho was the centre of the fledgling rock scene in London. Clubs included the Flamingo Club ("which started in 1952 as Jazz at the Mapleton"), La Discotheque, Whiskey a Go Go, Ronan O'Rahilly's ("of pirate radio station, Radio Carolinefame") The Scene[Ronan O'Rahilly.http://www.offshoreechos.com/Caroline%2060/Radio%20Caroline%20-%20The%2060s%20Chapter%2004.htm] in 1962 (first mod club - near the Windmill Theatrein Ham Yard -" formally The Piccadilly Club") and jazz clubs like Ronnie Scott's[Ronnie Scott's. http://freespace.virgin.net/davidh.taylor/peteking.htm] ("opened in 1959 at 39 Gerrard Street and moved to 47 Frith Street in 1965" ) and the 100 Club.
Soho's Wardour Street was the home of the legendary
Marquee Club("90 Wardour Street") which opened in 1958 and where the Rolling Stonesfirst performed in July 1962. Eric Claptonand Brian Jonesboth lived for a time in Soho sharing a flat with future rock publicist, Tony Brainsby. [ [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-5046752.html “Tony Brainsby, Obituary”,] "The Independent" March 2000.] Later, the Sex Pistols lived above number 6 Denmark Sreet, and recorded their first demos there.
Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor. It has clubs,
pubs, bars, restaurants, a few sex shops scattered amongst them, and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open all night" feel at the weekends. Many Soho weekends are busy enough to warrant closing off of some of the streets to vehicles; Westminster Councilpedestrianised parts of Soho in the mid-1990s, but later removed much of it, apparently after complaints of loss of trade from local businesses.
Record shops cluster in the area around Berwick Street, where shops such as Blackmarket Records and Vinyl Junkies offer the latest releases. Soho is also the home of London's main
gay village, around Old Compton Street, where there are dozens of businesses thriving on the pink pound. On April 301999, the Admiral Duncan pubon Old Compton Street, which serves the gay community, was damaged by a nail bombplanted by neo-Nazi David Copeland. It left three dead (two of whom were heterosexual) and 30 injured.
Soho is home to religious and spiritual groups, notably
St Ann's Church on Dean Street (damaged by a V1 flying bombduring World War II, and re-opened in 1990), St Patrick's Church in Soho Square (founded by Irish immigrants in the 19th century), City Gates Church with their centre in Greens Court, the Hare KrishnaTemple off Soho Square and a small mosque on Berwick Street.
Gerrard Street is the centre of London's Chinatown, a mix of import companies and restaurants (including Lee Ho Fook's, mentioned in
Warren Zevon's song Werewolves of London). Street festivals are held throughout the year, most notably on the Chinese New Year.
On Valentines Day 2006, a new campaign was launched to drive business back into the heart of Soho London. The campaign, called I Love Soho, was created by high profile Marketing Manager Prannay Rughani (who also heads up the Paramount Pictures licensed multi-million pound Cheers bars in Europe, and in addition, the Soho Clubs and Bars Group), and also features a community focused web-site (www.ilovesoho.co.uk). The campaign was launched in a blaze of publicity at the iconic former Raymond Revue Bar in Walkers Court made famous by its strip license and neons, with such celebrities in attendance as Charlotte Church, Amy Winehouse and Paris Hilton. I Love Soho is backed by the former Mayor of London Ken Livingston, the Soho Society, Westminster Council and Visit London.
Theatre and film industry
Soho is near the heart of London's theatre area, and is a centre of the independent film and video industry as well as the television and film
post-productionindustry. It is home to Soho Theatre, built in 2000 to present new plays and stand-up comedy. The British Board of Film Classification, formerly known as the British Board of Film Censors, can be found in Soho Square.
Soho is criss-crossed by a rooftop telecommunication network, and below ground level with
fiber opticsmaking up Sohonet, which connects the Soho media and post-production communityto British film studio locations such as Pinewood Studiosand Shepperton Studios, and to other major production centres such as Rome, New York City, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Wellington, New Zealand.
There are also plans by Westminster Council to deploy high-bandwidth
Wi-Finetworks in Soho as part of a program to further encourage the development of the area as a centre for media and technology industries.
oho and the sex industry
The Soho area has been at the heart of London's
sex industryfor at least 200 years.
Prior to the introduction of the Street Offences Act in 1959, prostitutes packed the streets and alleys of Soho and by the early sixties the area was home to nearly a hundred strip clubs and almost every doorway in Soho had little postcards advertising "Large Chest for Sale" or "French Lessons Given". These were known as "walk ups". With prostitution driven off the streets, many clubs such as The Blue Lagoon became prostitution fronts. The
Metropolitan Police Vice squadat that time suffered from corrupt police officers involved with enforcing organised crimecontrol of the area, but simultaneously accepting "back-handers" or bribes.
Clip Joints also surfaced in the sixties, these establishments sold colored water as champagne with the promise of sex to follow, thus fleecing tourists looking for a "good time". Also in 1960, London's first sex cinema theatre, the Compton Cinema Club [Michael Klinger. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/film-and-tv/features/the-lost-worlds-of-british-cinema-the-horror-525200.html] (a membership only club to get around the law) opened at 56 Old Compton Street. It was owned by Michael Klinger who produced many of the early
Roman PolańskiFilms such as Cul-de-Sac (1966). Michael Klinger also owned the Heaven and Hell hostess club (which had earlier been just a Beatnik club) across the road and a few doors down from the 2I's on the corner of Old Compton Street and Dean Street. Harrison Marks, a "glamour photographer" and girlie magazine publisher had a photographic gallery located in Gerrard Street and published several magazines including Spic and Span, which sold from the late fifties on. The content, however, by today's standard was very innocent.
By the mid seventies the sex shops had grown from the handful opened by Carl Slack in the early sixties to a total of fifty nine sex shops [Sinful Streets of London (map and guide book), published in 1983] which then dominated the square mile. Some had secret backrooms selling hardcore photographs, Beeline Books (Published in America by David Zentner [David Zentner. http://www.lukeisback.com/stars/stars/stars/male/david_zentner.htm] ) and
Olympia presseditions. By the 1980s, purges of the police force along with a tightening of licensing controls by the City of Westminsterled to a crackdown on these illegal premises. By 2000, a substantial relaxation of general censorship, and the licensing or closing of unlicensed sex shops had reduced the red-light area to just a small area around Brewer Street and Berwick Street. Several strip clubs in the area were reported in London's " Evening Standard" newspaper in February 2003 to still be rip-offs (known as Clip joints), aiming to intimidate customers into paying for absurdly over-priced drinks and very mild 'erotic entertainment'. Prostitutionis still widespread in parts of Soho, with several buildings used as brothels, and there is a persistent problem with drug dealingon some street corners.
Windmill Theatrewas notorious for its risqué nude " tableaux vivants", in which the models had to remain motionless to avoid censorship. It opened in June 1931 and was the only theatre in London which never closed [Windmill Theatre. http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Archive/Feb2003/Page2.htm] , except for the twelve compulsory days between 4 and 16 September 1939, throughout the blitz. It stood on the site of a windmill that dated back to the reign of Charles II until late in the eighteenth century. The theatre was sold to the Compton Cinema Group and it closed on 31 October 1964 and was reconstructed as a cinema and casino.
The Raymond Revuebar was a small theatre specialising in striptease and nude dancing. It was owned by Paul Raymond and opened on 21 April, 1958. The most striking feature of the Revuebar was the huge brightly lit sign declaring it to be the "World Centre of Erotic Entertainment".
The name and control of the theatre (but crucially, not the property itself) was bought by Gerald Simi in 1997. [ [http://www.megastar.co.uk/world/news/2004/03/11/sMEG01MTA3ODk5ODc4NjQ.html MegaStar: Home ] ] Gradually the theatre's fortunes waned, with Simi citing rising rent demands from Raymond as the cause. [ [http://www.strip-magazine.com/mmagazine/new_welcome.php?subaction=showfull&id=1138828013&ucat=4 Erotic show choreographer Gerard Simi ] ]
The Revuebar closed on June 10, 2004 and became a gay bar and cabaret venue called Too2Much, designed by Anarchitect.. In November 2006, it changed its name to Soho Revue Bar. The launch party included performances by
Boy George, Anthony Costa, and Marcella Detroit. [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4153/is_200406/ai_n12080699]
:"For education in Soho see the main City of Westminster article."
Berwick Streethas record shops, and a small street market open from Monday to Saturday. There is a newly built mosque at the end of the road (on the opposite end of Oxford Street).
Carnaby Streetwas for a short time the fashion centre of 1960s "Swinging London" although it quickly became known for poor quality 'kitch' products and was more tourist trap than fashion center. Kings Road, Chelsea attracted the real 'dedicated follower of fashion' of the period. Carnaby Street is now a thriving shopping area.
Dean Streetis home to the Soho Theatre, and a pub called The French House which was during WWII popular with the French Government-in-exile. Karl Marxlived at numbers 54 and 28 Dean Street between 1851 and 1856.
Denmark Streetwas the music publishing centre of the western world, being home to all the major publishers of the day. It is still famous for having the 'highest concentration of guitars in London' as the street is almost entirely populated with guitar, PA, bass and keyboard shops as well as the 12 bar club which has hosted many big names within its tiny walls.
Frith Streetwhere John Logie Bairdfirst demonstrated television. A plaque above the stage door of the Prince Edward Theatre identifies the site where Mozart lived for a few years as a child.
* Gerrard Street was home to
Ronnie Scott's Jazz Cluband the Dive Bar, under the Kings Head. It is also the centre of London's Chinatown.
Golden Squareis an attractive small urban square.
Great Windmill Street("below Lexington Street on map - not indicated") was home to the Windmill Theatre "which never closed" during its long and baudy life.
Ham Yard("off Great Windmill Street") was the home of London's first 'mod' club, The Scene.
Old Compton Streetwas the birthplace of Europe's rock club circuit ( 2 I'sclub) and boasted the first adult cinema in England (The Compton Cinema Club). Dougie Millings, who was the famous Beatlestailor, had his first shop at 63 Old Compton Street which opened in 1962 [The Look. Adventures in Pop and Rock Fashion. By Paul Gorman. Page 37] . Old Compton Street is now the core of Soho's gay village.
Soho Squareare Paul McCartney's office MPL Communications, and the Football Associationheadquarters.
Wardour Streetwas home of the legendary Marquee Cluband a few doors up there was a private pub (for a few years after which it was open to the public), The Ship (116 Wardour Street) frequented by the likes of John Lennon and Keith Moon. [The Ship. http://ultimatepubguide.com/pubs/info.phtml?pub_id=141] Another seventies rock hangout was The Intrepid Fox Pub [Intrepid Fox Pub. http://www.urban75.org/london/intrepid-fox.html] (97/99 Wardour Street) ("once patronised by the likes of Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, the Sex Pistols, Zodiac Mindwarp and hellraising actor Richard Harris)". It is now a centre of the film industry.
Nearest tube stations
Oxford Circus tube station
Piccadilly Circus tube station
Tottenham Court Road tube station
Leicester Square tube station
Covent Garden tube station
* [http://www.ilovesoho.co.uk/ I Love Soho]
* [http://www.thesohosociety.org.uk/ The Soho Society]
* [http://www.sohoha.org.uk/ Soho Housing Association]
* [http://www.sohocaf.org.uk/ Soho Caring Agencies Forum]
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.asp?pubid=295 The Survey of London: volumes 33 and 34] , St Anne Soho (1966) — full text online
* [http://www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow/snowpub.html Dr. John Snow and the John Snow pub]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/30/newsid_2499000/2499249.stm The Soho Bombing in 1999]
* [http://www.ratebeer.com/Story.asp?StoryID=556 Article by SilkTork on Soho pubs]
* [http://www.soundmap.co.uk/soho.aspx Soundmap Audio Walking Tour of Soho]
* [http://scene-out.com/party/showcat.php?cat=all&stype=1&si=Soho&sort=2&cat=all Soho gay scene information]
* [http://www.bigartmob.com/view/1751/ The Spirit of Soho mural]
* [http://www.urbanpath.com/london/soho/ Soho local area guide]
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