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Les Enfants Terribles
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Old Compton Street 1838
Old Compton Street west of Greek Street in 1838–40: (Upper) north side, (lower) south side. From Tallis's London Street Views.
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4 Old Compton Street
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5 Old Compton Street 1949
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georgie Skeggs  The Star Cafe was the haunt of Ironfoot Jack 1n the 1950s. I had seen him out and about in soho in the late 50s.Jack Rudolph Neave his full name, was was sentenced to 2o months hard labor in 1934. Jack was also a club owner and excapologist and strongman. He opened the 'Caravan' club in Endell St in 1934 which was closed down by the police who called the place a 'vile den of iniguity'. It became the haunt of homosexuals, and so called undisrables. A stash of guns was also found on the premises . Previously, Jack had also run the the 'Jamset' and the 'Cosmopolitian' clubs . Jack lacked abit in the personal hygine stakes and his associates allways gave a wide berth when he visted no 5 The Star Cafe, and its claimed he put the B.O into Soho . Next door to the Star at No3 was a small block of flats where Skiffler Chas McDevitt lived and contained other flats which were being rented by some of the girls working in the red light district in the late 1950s.The building still exsits today facing Molly Moggs on the other side of the street.

2013-04-23-19:45:43

Jon  and what about Jack Spot? he was a real Soho nasty

2013-07-09-22:12:17

Adrian  This must be Old compton St - the only indication of the existence of Little Compton St is the street sign still to be seen if you look down the grating on the traffic island in the middle of Charing Cross Road where it meets Old Compton St - don't really know how it ended up down there unless there was a hill at one time?

2014-04-01-12:19:15

jdex  For sure it's Old Compton Street, yes Little Compton is subterranean, but there is New Compton Street the other side of Charing Cross Road.

2014-05-18-22:19:29

Adrian  We now know that the bit called Little Compton Street left after building Charing Cross Road was renamed Old Compton Street too and the houses renumbered accordingly.

2015-10-26-13:33:40

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8 Old Compton Street 1959 - S
8 Old Compton Street 1959 - S. Parmigiani.jpg
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9 Old Compton Street 1966 March 15
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10 Old Compton Street
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11 Old Compton Street 1955
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11 Old Compton Street 1966 March 15
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11 Old Compton Street 1978 The Wimpy Bar's address was actually 12 Moor Street
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16 Old Compton Street
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17-19 Old Compton Street 1902 - Hötel Restaurant Briée
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17-19 Old Compton Street 1920's
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Adrian  you can see that the pub (Three Greyhounds?) has hardly changed!

2015-02-10-18:00:59

Vibeke  Quite right! I'll try to find a photo I made of Bjørn outside the pub last year. If I find it I'll send it to you.

2015-02-10-18:11:58

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19-21 Old Compton Street - Wheeler and Co
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19-21 Old Compton Street 1950's - Wheeler and Co
19-21 Old Compton Street 1950's - Wheeler and Co.jpg
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19-21 Old Compton Street 1973 - Wheeler and Co
19-21 Old Compton Street 1973 - Wheeler and Co.jpg
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20 Old Compton Street - Pollo Bar and the Stockpot
20 Old Compton Street - Pollo Bar and the Stockpot.jpg
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Didier Dembri  Yep.I remember these two eateries especially the Stockpot where i used to order a dish consisting of 2 boiled eggs on a bed of rice covered with a sweet curry sauce.Delicious .Cost : 50p.To this day i still have that tase in my mounth.

2017-02-13-07:36:09

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20 Old Compton Street - Pollo Bar
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Jon F  Oh the memories. Went first time in 1967 before going to LET. three course meal for 5 quid. I took my dad there in 1981. My last pre show supper there was 1988 on the way to see Phantom of the Ooera

2016-09-23-23:38:00

gianpaul onofri  Gianpaul, I worked there for one month 1965, best coffee boy of the west end.

2017-02-11-17:30:23

Jon F  The red benches and the claustrophobic downstairs great food.

2017-02-11-20:17:42

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22-28 Old Compton Street 1950 - Prince Edward Theatre
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22-28 Old Compton Street - Prince Edward Theatre
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22-28 Old Compton Street 1947 - Casino Theatre
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22-28 Old Compton Street and 41-46 Greek Street 1955 - Casino Cinema
22-28 Old Compton Street and 41-46 Greek Street 1955 - Casino Cinema.jpg
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Jon f   Saw Hiw The West was Won with parents in 1962

2016-09-23-23:40:39

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22-28 Old Compton Street - Casino Theatre
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22-28 Old Compton Street 1973 - Cinerama
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23-35 Old Compton Street 1975 (was 6-7 before renumbering in 1899) king's arms (1856) hibernia stores (1869) helvetia hotel
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This is in fact 46 Greek Street and 107 Shaftesbury Avenue 1930
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Jeff Dexter  107 Shaftesbury Ave, certainly not Old Compton.

2017-05-29-09:04:54

Adrian Stern  What a good eye you have. I think the street sign I couldn't read says S
haftesbury Avenue. Picture now in bot streets for a while

2017-05-29-16:58:50

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28 Old Compton Street 1950 April
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29–33 Old Compton Street Built 1724-8
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©British History Online

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36 Old Compton Street 1926 February
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36A Old Compton Street - G Parmigiani Figlio
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36A Old Compton Street 1950
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38 Old Compton Street 1947 - Chez Auguste
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38 Old Compton Street 1956 - Chez Auguste
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38 Old Compton Street 1963 - Chez Auguste
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44 Old Compton Street 1966 - Patisserie Valerie
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48 Old Compton Street 1961 December -Tony Abbro, Abbro and Varriano, newsagents
48 Old Compton Street 1961 December -Tony Abbro, Abbro and Varriano, newsagents.jpg
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©© The John Deakin Archive

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48 Old Compton Street - notice
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48 Old Compton Street 1961
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©© The John Deakin Archive

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50 Old Compton Street 1955 - Café Torino
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50 Old Compton Street and Dean Street 1950
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50 Old Compton Street and Dean Street 1950s - Café Torino
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52 Old Compton Street
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Didier Dembri  I used to buy good coffee from the Algerian coffee stores.But i never understood the connection with Algeria since that country doesn t produce coffee at all.Is the store still there.

2017-02-13-07:42:27

Adrian Stern  The history says "‘We only know that the store was opened by an Algerian man named Mr Hassan in 1887 – we know nothing of his descendants or what happened to him after he handed the shop over in 1926,’ says current owner Marisa Crocetta, in response to a question she must be tired of answering. ‘Algerian Coffee Stores has been in my family since 1948, when my granddad took over. My father, my sister and I are now here.’Mr Hassan’s story is most likely the balance of a delicate social equation – one with perhaps exponential variables and rooted to only four flakes of fact. Eamonn Gearon, a Middle Eastern specialist and professorial lecturer at John Hopkins SAIS, muses over what might have lead Mr Hassan to England.‘In 1881, Algeria was directly integrated into France and the new laws imposed common law penalties on the native population. In effect, tens of thousands of Algerians were dispossessed, and I would suggest that it was at this time that Mr Hassan, who must have had a little money squirrelled away, made the journey to London.’"

2017-02-13-11:31:30

Abdel  Algeria at that time used to be a French department and because the point strategic of Algeria in Africa made her the great powerful economic in that continent So it was like the transit country between Africa and Europe don't forget that there is an Algeria ( Parc D'essai ) Botanical Garden is a test garden with 140 acre established in 1832
The garden's principal activity is to provide trees to public organisations and to European settlers. In 1867, an estimated 8,214 species could be found in the garden. Among that gardens inside there is the French and the English Garden the one looks like Hyde park .. Algeria is a Beautiful Country

2017-05-15-23:14:18

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57-59 Old Compton Street 1972 - Le Bistingo
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Jon f  Adrian introduced me to Le Bistingo in Fleet ASt

2016-09-23-23:42:42

Paolo e Gianni i tuoi vecchi managers anno 1970 London (Romani)  Lots of memories at all Les Bistingo, Went to all of them, at one time i lived on top of Le Bistingo in South Kensington. Sergio dove sei?? Paolo tuo amico del Poker. Sei sempre al " L'Amico"??

2017-02-11-17:43:43

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55-59 Old Compton Street 1962
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55-59 Old Compton Street
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57 Old Compton Street 1950's - Heaven & Hell Coffee Lounge
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Roy Deverell  It's the 2Is next door that was my introduction to Soho in 1956/57. The Vipers skiffle group played downstairs on Saturdays - Tommy Steele and Cliff started their careers there.

2012-11-25-14:20:21

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59 Old Compton Street 1950s - 2i's coffee bar
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59 Old Compton Street - 2I s Coffee Bar
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59 Old Compton Street 1959 January 1 - 2Is
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59 Old Compton Street 1964
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60 Old Compton Street 1966 June 17 American Evangelist preacher Billy Graham bringing religion to London's 'red-light' district
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61 Old Compton St
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64 Old Compton Street 1955 - Del Monico's wine shop
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64 Old Compton Street 1958 - Del Monico's
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66 Old Compton Street - Fratelli Camisa The M.Parmigiani sign is visible in the background further up the street
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Eddy Wilkinson  My fathers side of my family (The Parmigiani family)owned the Deli shop in this picture.A great find here..

2016-10-06-17:49:36

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66-74 Old Compton Street 1936
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72 Old Compton Street 1939 March - M
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74 Old Compton Street - A Gomez Ortega
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74 Old Compton Street 1967 December 23
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Old Compton Street 1939 - An Italian delicatessen
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Eddy  I would say this is the Parmigiani Deli?

2017-05-29-08:37:16

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Old Compton Street 1939 March 25 - Eagle Club
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Old Compton Street 1966 May 13 - Coleman Cohen tobacco shop
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Jon f  How times have changed!

2016-09-23-23:43:58

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This street was originally called Compton Street, and its whole length is so named on Rocque's map published in 1746. On Horwood's map of 1799 the part between Greek Street and Crown Street is called Little Compton Street and is so named in the parish ratebooks from the 1820's. From the same period the part west of Greek Street is given its present name in the ratebooks. In 1896 this name was extended to the entire street.

Compton Street was one of the streets of Soho Fields where development proceeded more rapidly than in the three running from north to south. Newly built houses are mentioned in 1677 and 1678. The street is included in the first available St. Martin in the Fields ratebook to name the streets in Soho Fields, in 1679, when there were fourteen ratepayers listed there. By 1681 the street was more than half built and appears fully built in the ratebook for 1683.

It seems clear that the street was named by Frith and his associates in compliment to Henry Compton, Bishop of London. Frith, Compton and the authorities of St. Martin's parish were involved together in 1677 in the exchange of properties by which the church of St. Anne was given the site south of Compton Street appropriated to it in 1678. At the Greek Church site Frith and the bishop were also mutually concerned at that time.

The plan appended to Joseph Girle's licence to build in Soho Fields in 1676 shows a piece of ground about 220 feet long at the north-west end of the future line of the street separated off from the rest of Kemp's Field. It is inscribed 'patridges' . Here Frith evidently had to take account of an existing tenancy. The lease of a site within this area in February 1677/8 was made to the building speculator Isaac Symball by Richard Partridge, brewer, and John Gazaigne, tailor, both of St. Martin in the Fields, for a term expiring in 1707. In July Frith confirmed the lease, and granted a further term to 1729.

Hardly any of the first tradesmen directly responsible for building the street can be named. On the south side a building lessee from Frith and Pym c. 1678 was Richard Tyler, the brickmaker who built elsewhere in St. Anne's and St. James's. Tyler also held by March 1678/9 the plot of ground on the north side of the street already referred to, by assignment from Symball. A joiner, William Ellison of St. Anne's, had a building lease from Frith or Pym of a site on the north side, and appears as ratepayer c. 1680–5. Ellison became over-indebted to a mortgagee and about 1686 retired from Compton Street to the confines of the Fleet. His experience was similar to that of another builder in this street and elsewhere, John Markham, a carpenter, who had leases from Frith of four or five houses in the street. One lease, dated in February 1677/8, of an unfinished house on the north side was for fifty years from Lady Day 1678 at a peppercorn rent. Markham appears as ratepayer in 1680–1. His troubles with Frith and with a victualler, by whom he was dispossessed, are described elsewhere.

Some of the premises are said in the recitals on which knowledge of these early leases depends, to include 'shops', and it is probable that in fact the street was from the beginning at least in part a shopping street. The ratepayers, however, occasionally included a lady of title until the early eighteenth century. Among the ratepayers' names were always some seemingly of French extraction, and by the first decade of the eighteenth century these constituted more than a quarter of the whole. Strype in 1720 said 'This Street is broad, and the Houses well built, but of no great Account for its Inhabitants, which are chiefly French': among the ratepayers at that time, perhaps a third had French-seeming names.

In the 1720's and 1730's a partial rebuilding took place, mostly in anticipation of a Portland lease from 1734. Only some of the rebuilding, however, was controlled by a Portland building lease.

By the time that the Portland estate map was made c. 1792–3 only seven or eight of the 78 houses seem to have been without shop fronts (some of these being taverns). The tenants' occupations are legibly marked on twenty-six out of the thirty-two house-sites on the north side between Wardour Street and Greek Street. They are baker, broker, cabinet-maker, carpenter, carver and gilder (two), 'chinam[erchan]t', 'clothm[erchan]t', coalmerchant, confectioner, goldbeater, goldsmith and jeweller, haberdasher, hairdresser, ironmonger, oilman, perfumer, pianofortemaker, publican (three), tallow- or waxchandler (two), tinman, upholsterer and whitesmith. Tallis's view of the street west of Greek Street in 1838–40 shows shop fronts to every house.

The Post Office directory in 1850 lists many ordinary retail shops in the street, but workers in wood and metal also appear. There were rather more eating-houses and public houses or hotels here than in the streets northward.

In the last third of the nineteenth century the street experienced a full share of the renewed influx of foreigners into Soho. Among the refugees from the suppression of the Commune were Verlaine and Rimbaud, and in the winter of 1872–3 one of their haunts was a bar at the eastern end of Old Compton Street. By 1900 the names listed in the Post Office directory suggest that nearly half the occupants of premises in the street were foreign, and at about that time journalists could comment on the sale or publication of continental socialist and anarchist papers hereabouts. In the early 1930's the foreign element seems to have been larger still, and remains strong today. Compared with 1900 the modern street has fewer public houses, and considerably more restaurants and cafés; foreign provision shops have also noticeably increased in numbers since 1900, and these two categories now account for the use of about half the premises in the street, at ground-floor level.

The street is now in fact the main shopping street of Soho, noted for the wide range of foreign produce it offers. Architecturally it contains very little of interest. Four houses on the south side, Nos. 29, 31, 33 and 37, retain early eighteenthcentury interior finishings, but their exteriors have been greatly altered. Although a large number of other buildings of domestic type remain, none appears to be earlier than the late eighteenth century, and these are notable only for the absolute plainness of their brick fronts. None of the wide variety of shop fronts shown in Tallis's street-view of 1838–40 remains, and only two stuccoed fronts of the mid nineteenth century have any claim to stylishness, No. 50 (also numbered 61 Dean Street), and Nos. 40–42. Nevertheless, there has been very little building of large commercial blocks, apart from the Casino Cinema, to obliterate the original site-divisions of the street. The new buildings that have appeared in considerable numbers in recent years mostly preserve the narrow frontages and are finished unobtrusively in brick or metal and glass.

The rateable value of the houses in the street westward of Greek Street totalled some £1,780 in 1740, with an average for each house of about £30 10s. In 1792 the total assessment was about £1,870 and the average still about £31. In 1844 the total had risen to about £2,650 and the average to about £46, and in 1892 the total to about £4,630 and the average to about £93. The rise in the average assessment was partly accounted for by a fall, from sixty in 1792 to fifty in 1892, in the number of sites separately assessed.

Residents and lodgers in houses in Old Compton Street which are not described elsewhere have included:

Some artists whose addresses are given as being in Old Compton Street in exhibition catalogues and elsewhere, but whose names do not appear in the ratebooks, are listed below, with the years in which they occur:

Text extracted from British History Online, a digital library of key printed primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland, with a primary focus on the period between 1300 and 1800.
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