Go straight to Le Kilt
Les Enfants Terribles
Diverse pictures of Soho  
Top of page
Back to top

Go back

1956 band playing on the streets
Georgie Skeggs  This photo looks very much like the bomb site at the bottom of Gerrard St , which got hit and destroyed part of the Sandringham West Buildings, the area between the back of the fire station and Newport Crt . One of the blocks of flats were flattend and turned into a car park until the rest of this Victorian tenement was rebuilt in the 70s. There was also a very nice fish and chip shop facing the car park in the late 1950s. I think the car park can be seen in the film ' The Small World of Sammy Lee ' which starred Tony Newley made in 1963. The uniformity of the window frames in the photo, seen to give it away!


Adrian  You could be right George, but there's a sign pointing to a Regent Car Park. There still is a Regent Car Park but it's off Kingly Street,near Beak Street I think. So if it's the same one then it can't be Gerrard Street. I thought it might have been the bombed site just west of Wardour Street which itself was a car park for many years.


1956 jiving in a carpark soho
Roy Deverell  It's not generally recognised just how vibrant Soho was in the 50's. Not only with all the coffee bars and music cellars but also music in the street - skiffle groups playing everywhere from Soho down the Charing Cross Rd, across the Strand to the railway arches in Villiers St. It was a huge adventure then to come up to town from the suburbs. Great photos. Thank you.


Jon friend  This is the most evocative photo of 50's London. Given that they are all now in their mid-70's these college kids dancing "trad jazz " took me back to when I was just a kid .
p.s who was the schwartzer?


Jon  I wonder was this in Ham Yard , home of "The Scene" club?


Adrian  I know nothing about these pictures at all. Don't think it was Ham Yard - do you remember the car park on a bombed site near there? Cos that's where I think it may be.


Jon  The car park official name was Ham YArd W1


jon friend  www.flickrhivemind.net/Tags/hamyard/Interesting
Great web site re: Ham Yard


Jon  cont'd: who can forget the Mods in 1966. dressed in parkas, wearing brimless "Blue Beat " hats sitting on lambrettas swallowing "purple hearts" to say awake all night dancing at "The Scene"


1956 jiving in soho square
Jon Friend  Looking west to Soho St. In the far right corner but hidden from view was the French Protestant Church of London. This must be lunch time as all the blokes watching were wearing suits & ties! The skiffle players look brings back memories of Tommy Steele or Joe Brown and the Bruvvers!


Roy Deverell  I think it was taken during the annual 'Soho Fair'. Don't remember when that ceased to be.


Georgie Skeggs  The Soho Festival still takes place usually the 2nd weekend in July. Ive been told it might be a bit earlier this year 2013. It takes place in St Anns Gardens entrance in Wardour St between 1-6 directly behind what used to be The 2is Coffee bar and the Heavan & Hell Coffee Lounge, in Old Compton St....


georgie skeggs  Jon, The photorapher has his back to the French church and is facing the top end of Frith St, I think the white building on the corner of Frith St was the old VD hospital part of it is still in use today as a Health Centre and local Doctors surgery. Facing it on the other corner is 20th Century Fox and the old film censors office
The skifflers are playing outside the-- now, MPL-- Paul McCartney's music publishing company which opened in the mid sixties approx 10yrs after this pohoto was taken. Incidently The old Soho Fair took place in Soho Sq during the 1950s for many years which also spilled out into the surrouding streets on colourful mobile floats. The fair had an indirect link to Skiffle being played in the 2is Coffee Bar and without the Soho fair just maybe--- the 2is many never have taken off as the birthplace of British Rock Roll


Jon Friend  Georgie:
Do you remember f the photographer Jean Straker who had a studio right there where the photo was taken & where he displayed photos of women in so called " art poses". From the mid 1950s. Straker was an enthusiastic and prolific photographer of the female nude, and he founded the Visual Arts Club at 12 Soho Square, where members were also offered nude photography sessions.They were naked but the best bits were covered. As a kid I thought that women looked like that in real life. What a shock it was when I finally saw the real thing!!


Nancy Jones  Hi, is there anyone that can tell me more about this photo? I'm almost positive this is a picture of my
grandad and his best friend. We have been searching for this photo for years! It would be greatly appreciated if anyone
Could. Many thanks


jon friend  Nancy: What a great comment. Makes me feel old LOL !
Try this site, I hope that it bring happy memories to your family


Nancy Jones  Hi, is there anyone that can tell me more about this photo? I'm almost positive this is a picture of my
grandad and his best friend. We have been searching for this photo for years! It would be greatly appreciated if anyone
Could. Many thanks


Richard Porter  The photo seems to be taken outside 1 Soho Square - now the offices of Paul McCartney's company, MPL!


Abdel  Oh all enjoying that twist danse .. No selfie no facebook no IPhone!!


1956 young women on the streets of soho
jon friend  Looks like all you needed in 1956 to wow these 3 birds was a jar of Brylcreme and a packet of 3 (Durex -n the old pink and purple envelope)- no chance otherwise in those days!!


georgie skeggs  Great early shot outside the 2is coffee bar, a year before I arrived there to taste my first cup of espresso coffee. Terry Dene was appearing in the basement at the time. it was far to crowded to get in . so we stood outside keeping cool, and, listening to the music through the air vent outside which appears in the photo where the bubblegum machine is located. I dont remember that juke box, the one I remember was like a wurlitzer with the wrap round glass front like the Chevy 57 car window. When was the the neon signage changed, to the later utilitarian sign? Great days though, by late 1959 I was a bohemian/ modernist, ducks arse, and boston, now gone, to be replaced with the American Ivy League college boy cut, and finally a Vespa GS 150 now all history!!


195x Heaven and Hell
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.


195x The White Monkey
Roy Deverell  Isn't that the Legrain coffee house in Gerrard St., just off lower Wardour St.?
It was very similar to the Valerie only smaller and more intimate.
Thanks for this new addition.


Adrian  I think that is the view towards Wardour St as you can just see the Algerian Stores window on the right. I think this was before my time - can you hazard a guess at the year?


Inspector Clouzot  I can see what you're saying, Adrian, but, no, that is lower Wardour St in the background. There was always a continental newsagent in Old Compton St where the two women are and never, as far as I know, a barber shop at the end of the street. The Legrain was in Gerrard St. Haven't a clue when this was taken.


Adrian  Begad sir! You're damned right! Well spotted. And you're right about there never having been a barber shop on the North corner of Old Comprin St/Wardour St of course.


georgie skeggs  Let tidy this up a bit ---this view looks west along Gerrard St towards lower Wardour St . At the far end you can see a neon sign, in the window of the old Regent Shoe Shop who also had another shop next door .the first floor of this premises turned into the 'Whiskey A Go Go, nd much later the Wag Club. Sqoushed inbetween the two shoe shops waswas a door which lead to (mingo) The Flamingo Club . On the facing corner of Gerrald street is the amusement archcade. Picture is from 1960 I guess.


georgie skeggs  Sorry folks about the spellings and grammar in the last comment. I had to rush it as my web connection was about to shut down, and , finally it did!!! I hope the comment was understanable anyway..


1966 Frith Street Bar Italia

1973 Tottenham Court Road
jon friend  Anyone remember "The Last Chance Saloon " dance club. The door was next to the entrance to the tube station. Freddie Mills was shot in his car in the alley behind the station . Right across the street was the former Tottenham Court Road Lyons Corner House.
This whole corner of Oxford St & Charing Cross Road is now being rebuilt as part of the Cross Link Rail network


Adrian  Certainly remember the Lyon's tea rooms - we used to go to the Corner House on Leicester Square as a birthday treat!


Jon Friend  Yes Lyons had lots of rooms, The Brasserie, The Carvery,The Grill and Cheese. Te Bacon & Egg. Other Corner Houses were at Marble Arch, Coventry Street and The Strand. All real treats for kids when money was tighter for Mums & Dads than now


dave  really brought back memories seeing this snap, i was a regular at the last chance saloon 64/65 i remember freddie mills nite spot round the corner and there was a major movie being shown at the time called "those magnificent men in their flying machines! does anyone remember the "country guitar coffee bar it was just along from the junction of tot ct rd and oxford st opposite the YMCA building , used to stay openal night on saturdays and people would take their guitars in and sing country or folk music , used to use the macabre in wardour st along with the others ? freight train in berwick st , 2is and the mod hangout "the coffee-ann off whitcombe st i cant remember the name of the little alley it was in but it'll came back to me , anyway all for now , always like chatting about the 60s "up west , "the scene club" "flamingo" etc


Jeff Dexter  Exel Court Dave!


dave  thanks for that jeff, yes excell court , did you use the coffee-ann too ?cant believe how much it has all changed up west now , i used the seedy little places in wardour mews , that blind alley could tell a tale or two ? if there was a place that saw all of life it was wardour mews , the limbo, the take five, koko's , there was the freight train on the corner of berwick st and d'arblay st the girls that worked the area all helped to make it what it was , a den of iniquity but i thought it was great , on odd occasion i get down to london and if there's time i have a stroll round the old haunts , nice chatting about the old days up west !


Hilary  I have fond memories of the Last Chance Saloon, from autumn 1963 when I was a new student, at St Martins school of art, round the corner. I shared the same musical tastes and love of dancing with another girl there (a bit of a Mod), who introduced me to the Last Chance. We went down there regularly, early in the evening (it must have been free or very cheap then). It was usually just me/us plus maybe 2 or 3 classmates and other oddbods. Several firsts for me there. Iíd heard of discoteques (maybe from the French radio stations, where the best popular music was) but it was the first one I'd ever been in. And first public venue where it was fine to dance alone (no more waiting to be asked!) First time I saw English Mods in action (sometimes a group of them would suddenly appear, entertain us with their dancing and disappear just as suddenly - maybe practicing for one of the more prestigious venues). First ever Blue Beat I heard, Prince Buster's Madness - quite something over the best speakers Iíd heard outside a cinema (still have the single I bought the next day!). But I was beginning to wonder if anyone else remembered the place!


Jon F  Hilary: in '63 the Mods used to like to dance at "Beat City" In Oxford St near the 100 club and as they stayed up all night on "purple hearts; the would often repair to 'The Scene" in Ham Yard. Soho now rather smart but then just a car park.


Hilary  Thanks, Jon. I hadn't heard of mods in those first weeks at college, just noticed that those girls at the Last Chance seemed to be into the same French fashions and hairstyles that I admired at the time. (Hadnít acquired much social know-how as a schoolgirl!)

Once settled in at college, I loved the Flamingo and the Marquee, but my student friends and I couldn't afford to go to clubs very often. And as for Ronnie Scottís, frequenting it would have been wonderful, but I only got to go there once at college, and then only because my boyfriend blagged us in free, on the back of having once worked as an assistant to Ronnie. (Complete freeloading would have been pushing it too far, so one Scotch each was discreetly spun out through the session with more and more water). We werenít deprived of night life though (the art school hops, and the parties, could be quite something in those days).

I love walking around Soho when I get to London (from Ireland). It's not the changes there iím surprised by, itís the nice things that have managed not to change. It was interesting to find this website (while searching for the Last Chance - wondered if I remembered it right, but Iím not holding my breath, night photography being a lot less simple back then!).


1977 Frith Street
Adrian  Is this 1978 does anyone know?


jon friend  The car had a K registration which mean anytime after 1971 but the bell bottom jeans would indicate some time aprpox. before 1978


Adrian  Well some people never change with the times so the bell-bottoms are not really a clue.


CHARLES  the photograph wrote october 1977 under the picture, i am certain it is correct !!


Jon Friend  Yes I was spot on as in 1978 bells and lapels were being tapered,


197x -Greek Street looking north
jon friend  The red brick building in the front right is the back of the Palace theatre at Cambridge Circus so the picture was taken south of Old Compton St. across from Cappucetto coffee bar


200x Dean Street view

49 Greek St
jon friend  Beautiful post war Riley. Very evocative of the "wicked" 1950s Soho


jdex  I think you'll find it's Wolseley 6/80


Jon F  Was this the model that the Police used in the 50s with those binocular bells on the roof?


Neil Rosenthal  It's a Wolsley


jon f  I remember all the cast iron Dinky Toys of that ilk.


JON F  Neil: its "Wolseley" Wolsey made socks


5 Little Compton Street
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.


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


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?


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.


Greek Street - Les Cousins site

Greek Street - M Marks, Wholesale Tobacconist

Greek Street - hoist
Roy Deverell  That's Hopkins Purvis, a shop specialising in paints