Walker's Court

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Walker's Court, looking south (2008) Walker's Court, Soho - geograph.org.uk - 1077963.jpg
Walker's Court, looking south (2008)

Walker's Court is a pedestrian street in the Soho district of the City of Westminster, London. The street dates from around the early 1700s and escaped modernisation in the late nineteenth century so that it retains its original narrow layout. In the twentieth century the small shops that traded from the street gradually closed and from the late 1950s the street became associated with Soho's sex trade. The Raymond Revuebar opened in 1958 and closed in 2004. There are now plans to redevelop the street.

City of Westminster City and borough in London

The City of Westminster is an Inner London borough that also holds city status. It occupies much of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. Historically in Middlesex, it is to the west of the ancient City of London, directly to the east of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its southern boundary is the River Thames. The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon its creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.

Raymond Revuebar

The Raymond Revuebar (1958–2004) was a theatre and strip club at 11 Walker's Court, in the heart of London's Soho district. For many years, it was the only venue in London that offered full-frontal, on-stage nudity of the sort commonly seen in other cities in Europe and North America. Its huge brightly lit sign declaring it to be the "World Centre of Erotic Entertainment" made the Revuebar a local landmark.

Contents

Location

The immediate vicinity of Walker's Court. Walker's Court map.jpg
The immediate vicinity of Walker's Court.

The street is pedestrianised and runs between Peter Street in the north and the junction of east Brewer Street (originally Little Pulteney Street) and Rupert Street in the south. The two sides of Walker's Court are joined by a privately owned bridge halfway down.

Brewer Street street in Soho

Brewer Street is a street in the Soho area of central London, running west to east from Glasshouse Street to Wardour Street.

Early history

The vicinity of Walker's Court was built up in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Building leases were granted in the area to a number of tradesmen in 1719 and 1720, one of whom was John Walker of St. Martin's, a bricklayer, but it is uncertain if that is the source of the street name. [1]

Nineteenth century

Walker's Court is shown on Richard Horwood's map of 1813 (3rd edition), by which time the street layout immediately north of Little Pulteney Street (now Brewer Street) was the same as it is today. [2]

Richard Horwood British cartographer

Richard Horwood (1757/8–1803) was a surveyor and cartographer. Between 1792 and 1799 he published a Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster the Borough of Southwark and Parts adjoining Shewing every House. At the time this was the largest map ever printed in Britain. After he decided to chart the entire city of London, down to each individual building, Horwood set about soliciting subscriptions to finance the project in 1790. His intention was to publish the complete map within two years, at a scale of 26 inches to the mile. However, the scope of the project was so extensive, and his cost to complete it so high, that rather than taking the estimated two years, the project took almost ten to complete. Despite acquiring royal patronage from King George III, the project suffered financial hardship, making it even more difficult to produce. However, Horwood eventually published the entire map, consisting of 32 sheets. The last sheet was made available in 1799.

From 1873, attempts began to improve the south side of Little Pulteney Street which was described as containing "narrow, ill ventilated Courts and Alleys, some of them open to the sky, but others running under portions of houses". The plans would have joined Rupert Street to Berwick Street in one broad road that would have destroyed narrow Walker's Court in the process but the plans were never carried out on the north side of the street and Walker's Court remains a narrow alley to this day. [1]

Twentieth century

The Raymond Revuebar in Walker's Court. (1997) Raymond Revuebar - geograph.org.uk - 1285523.jpg
The Raymond Revuebar in Walker's Court. (1997)

In the first half of the twentieth century, Walker's Court was made up of small shops, including an eel pie shop, and a horse butcher that was still trading in the 1950s. Isow's Kosher Restaurant was also located in the street. [3]

In 1958, Paul Raymond opened the Raymond Revuebar (closed 2004), a theatre and strip club at Maurice House, No. 11-12. It is now The Box Soho. [4] Walker's Court is crossed at first floor level by an architecturally distinctive bridge with leaded bay windows which joins the entrance to the theatre to the main auditorium. [5] In recent years a carousel horse and toy car have appeared in the window on the south side and an eclectic selection of objects on the north side which has led to speculation about their meaning. [6]

Redevelopment plans

In 2015, plans were underway for the redevelopment of the immediate area to include a new theatre, retail and nightclub premises. [7] The redevelopment is planned to include new headquarters for Soho Estates. [8] [9] [10]

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References

  1. 1 2 Brewer Street and Great Pulteney Street Area. British History Online. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  2. The A to Z of Regency London. London: London Topographical Society. p. 25. ISBN   0902087193
  3. Girling, Brian. (2013). Soho & Theatreland Through Time. Stroud: Amberley Publishing. p. 62. ISBN   978-1-4456-3091-5.
  4. Walking in the Soho footsteps of the sultan of sin. Teddy Jamieson, Herald Scotland, 14 April 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  5. Sinclair, Iain. (2006). London: City of Disappearances. London: Penguin. p. 39. ISBN   978-0-14-101948-2.
  6. Leftover London. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  7. walker’s court. Studio of Design and Architecture. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  8. Walker's Court - Current. Soho Estates. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  9. Walker's Court. MATT Architecture & SODA, London, 2014.
  10. Property: Makeover that is saving Soho’s soul. Evening Standard , 14 June 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2015.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Walker's Court, Soho at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°30′45.32″N0°8′2.62″W / 51.5125889°N 0.1340611°W / 51.5125889; -0.1340611