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Review – Berwick Street Market in Soho

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Berwick Street was built between 1687 and 1703. However it was in the early 20th century when the street became synonymous with the fashion and textile industry. The shops and stalls were popular with young working girls shopping for silk stockings and affordable ready-to-wear fashion. Even Bloomsbury Set writer, Virginia Woolf would frequent Berwick Street Market to buy silk stockings.

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Berwick Street Market is one of the capital’s oldest markets. Street trading began in the late 18th century but only received official recognition as a market in 1892.

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The Berwick Street area has for centuries been a cosmopolitan district, and in the late 19th century, the  Market earned a reputation for selling a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. In the early 20th century it became a destination for the foodies of their day to pick up exotic ingredients.

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The modern market is an eclectic mix of stalls which includes street food, fruit & veg, flowers and fashion. Situated near Theatre’s and other entertainments it attracts a wide range  of customers and is a good example of a neighbourhood market that are fast disappearing all over London.

Opening Times : Mon to Sat 9am-6pm

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

 

Book Review : A Scream in Soho by John G Brandon ( British Library Publishing )

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This book is one of the new editions of the successful British Library Crime Classic series. A Scream in Soho which is the 10th title in the British Library Crime Classics series was first published in 1940 within the era widely acknowledged as the golden age of British detective fiction

A Scream in Soho’s writer John G Brandon (1879-1941) was born in Australia but lived in Britain where he wrote over 100 crime novels. Coming to Britain as a prize fighter before starting his writing career, Brandon is all but forgotten today. His prolific writing career also included contributing to The Thriller magazine and some of the Sexton Blake mysteries.

A Scream in Soho is set in London during the 2nd world war, where the streets of London were under black out conditions and conspiracies abound regarding foreign nationals and their potential for espionage. Brandon cleverly weaves the cosmopolitan mix of people who were living around Soho into his plot, concentrating on the Italian and German eating places catering for the rising Italian, Austrian and German refugee population. Brandon shows a great deal of sympathy for these refugees but acknowledges that there are  ‘ugly little black sheep who creep into every flock and, indeed, are there only for their own ulterior purposes.’

Our story begins with a piecing scream heard by our hero Detective Inspector McCarthy. Rushing to the scene of the scream the only clues are a blood covered handkerchief and a blood splattered door step.   McCarthy born and bred in Soho is a larger than life character whose good looks and quick mind is well known in the area and he quickly galvanises the local populous in the search for the body and the murderer. Brandon further introduces the espionage potential with the theft of British anti-aircraft defence plans which McCarthy is ordered by his superiors to investigate.

Soho in our story becomes a hive of detective activity with McCarthy taking risks to his own life, as well as the residents of Soho. The seedier side of Soho is revealed throughout the story and its environs brought to life in the superb pacey narrative that Brandon uses.

The questions raised by the novel would have sent a chill into the lives of the wartime British population and reinforced some of their suspicions regarding the people they had perhaps lived and worked with for many years. A Scream in Soho is a book that captures the essence of the period, where Britain is at war, but not yet under fire. It is this illustration of the ‘phoney war’ that will fascinate the modern reader and offers some insights into how the blacked out Soho streets were the scene of considerable conflict and intrigues.

Brandon was more of the fast paced thriller side of the murder mystery genre rather than the more sedate whodunits of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. He was one of a number of prolific writers catering for a huge demand for these types of books who are generally overlooked and their reputation has tended to fade over time. It is ironic that these books were written quickly to reflect the fast moving contemporary events in London, however we now are more interested in them for their historical interest.

This book will appeal to those who like the Sexton Blake and Bulldog Drummond fast moving thriller, however the main character transcends the restrictions of that particular genre, Detective Inspector McCarthy is a likeable hero with a sense of humour with a genuine affection for the Soho area and for its inhabitants.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would further information or buy a copy of the book, visit the British Library shop website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here

Great London Cafe’s – Foxcroft and Ginger

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3 Berwick Street, Soho, London W1F 0DR

In the narrow streets of Soho, there are no shortages of Coffee shops and Cafe’s, therefore it is all the more surprising that Foxtrot and Ginger in Berwick Street has made its reputation in a relatively short time.
The couple behind the cafe had spent many years working in restaurants before they opened here in 2010.

In hectic and touristy Soho, Foxcroft and Ginger stands out as a place to sit back and relax. There is a a larger space in the basement below the main café.
Foxcroft & Ginger is founded upon the principles of good wholesome homemade food, made with locally-sourced ingredients and where possible made in house.

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Breads, cakes and pastries are made in the kitchen downstairs, sourdough pizza’s are a speciality and the Coffee and Tea are made from high quality ingredients.

Good quality homemade food, good coffee and a friendly environment have proven successful for Foxcroft and Ginger who now have a second café in Whitechapel.

Opening Hours

Monday: 8am – 7pm

Tuesday-Friday: 8am – 10pm

Saturday: 9am – 10pm

Sunday: 9am – 7pm

Great London Cafes – Bar Italia

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22 Frith St, London W1D 4RF

If you are looking for an authentic Italain Cafe in London, Bar Italia in Soho is the place to head for, it was opened in 1949 by Lou and Caterina Polledri.
In post war Britain it became a important social centre for Italian Community and was one of the rare places you could find a good quality coffee in London.
Bar Italia quickly became an institution in Soho and has been visited by many celebrities over the years.
Still owned by the Polidari family, it is still a little part of Italy with Italian Football shown on the big screen at the back of the cafe and football shirts and pictures of sporting heroes dotted all over the walls.

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The red and white formica is an integral part of the Bar and there are still original pieces from 1949. The Gaggia coffee machine has been there fifty years.
It still produces great coffee and the seats outside are very popular for watching the world go by. Almost directly opposite is the legendary Jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s.
Bar Italia has the appearance of a classic Italian cafe and offers a reminder of little piece of London history when Italian cafes introduced a post war coffee culture.
Bar Italia is not the only claim to fame for this building, in 1926, John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of television here.
The blue plaque above the front door commemorates this event.
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