Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The ever-changing London

An afternoon at Belsize Park led on to an evening concert at the stunning Tudor Hall at the Middle Temple in central London. To get there I took the tube part way then walked from Warren Street through the heart of theatreland. That London constantly reinvents itself is a bit of cliche but even so, I was surprised at the extent of changes to areas I thought I knew.

 Tottenham Court Road used to be the hub of the electronics business with dozens of specialist shops selling cameras and computers, phones and hifi, even telescopes in the old days. I bought my first computer, an Apple II, there in 1981. Today there are barely five, all fairly small, outlets which together could have fitted into one of the big stores twenty years ago. At its end Centre Point looks quite different from what I used to know, with all the buildings on side ripped away and a great gap at the top of Charing Cross Road where a cluster of Victorian (?) properties await demolition. A new station front has been shoehorned across the street from the massive hole where Crossrail will pass underneath in the near future.

At least there are still musical instrument shops in Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street) and some specialist bookshops in the area but where did all the coffee shops and restaurants come from? My wife, who worked there in the 1970s, remembers the area around Fleet Street as a culinary desert in the evenings. Not any more - the city is far more alive at night than it used to be.

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