Secret London: streets beneath streets of London

Sometimes we hear about how some of the oldest cirties are built on top of the ruins of earlier incarnations. Rome, Paris and London are some well known examples. In fact many British cities are built upon several earlier eras such as the Romans or Vikings which can lay 20-30 feet below the modern streets. Sometimes you can visit these streets such as the famous tourist attractions in Bath and York. At other times, ancient streets are discovered almost by accident when excavated in London before construction work takes place only then to be covered again waiting for new discoveries centuries down the line, Today though was the first time I accidentally discovered a real life Victorian street literally under my feet when I looked through the grate of a drain…..

The Great Wen

Paul, the librarian at Time Out, first told me about the street beneath Charing Cross Road in around 2005. He promised to show it to me, but never did.

Then, last month, I saw it. I was mooching around Cambridge Circus, noting the loss of London’s best-named book shop, Lovejoys, a landmark from the time I used to be a dedicated fanzine-browser across the road at Sportpages, also since departed. I had always assumed Lovejoys was a wittily named Soho porn shop, but it actually stocked cheap classics and DVDs. The shop taking over the site will be a sex shop it seems, albeit of the modern, seedless, air-brushed, air-conditioned variety rather than Soho’s traditional damp basement. With the erasure of any trace of character at the arse-end of Berwick Street, the old Soho sex shop is nearly gone. Indeed, much of this post is about things…

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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2 Responses to Secret London: streets beneath streets of London

  1. Pingback: Secret London: streets beneath streets of London — Stephen Liddell – RUN HIGH DON'T FALL

  2. Pingback: The festival of Raksha Bandhan | Stephen Liddell

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