The changing Fitzrovia art scene

Shame that Fitzrovia Lates fizzled out but good that we still have many excellent galleries.

Fitzrovia News

Towards the end of 2011 I wrote enthusiastically about the increase in the number of commercial galleries, from 16 in 2008 to 37. By 2012 the number peaked at around 54, but there has been a big fallout over the last five years, and we are now down to around 32 spaces.

Map of Fitzrovia galleries taking part in 'Lates'. Fitzrovia Lates, one of the initiatives to promote the area as an art hub, fizzled out long ago.

Also, these figures don’t take into account the many galleries that came and went during this period: I have noted over 60 gallery closures over the last six years.

There are many reasons for this falling off, the massive increases in West End rents and business rates, that has affected art galleries all over central London, being an important factor. While one reads daily about auction records being smashed and vast sums of money being paid for paintings at…

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The press that changed the cultural landscape of Britain

Fitzrovia News

Picture the scene: it’s June 1965 and Barry Miles (Fitzrovia resident for over 50 years and Czar of the Counterculture) and his pal John “Hoppy” Hopkins join 7,000 other like-minded souls at The Royal Albert Hall for an international poetry gathering, led by the Americans Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso.

Image of book cover. A catalogue of every British underground paper that launched in the 1960s.

Miles (for nobody calls him Barry) explains: “As a reading it was not special; as a meeting place for young people – students, musicians, poets, actors, people from the arts, the sciences and education – it was a revelation. There were thousands of us! My friend Hoppy and I looked at each other and nodded, we both had the same idea. These people need a newspaper of their own! There was a constituency there that Fleet Street was simply not covering.”

The idea for International Times…

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Counter Culture in Fitzrovia – Past and Present

How much do you really know about Fitzrovia?

Although I’ve lived in the Fitzrovia for nearly ten years I have the feeling there’s an awful lot I don’t know about my neighbours, past and present. Since I moved here, references to Fitzrovia pop up all over the place. For example a character in Terence Rattigan’s play ‘After the Dance’ talks excitedly about slumming it at the Fitzroy Tavern. And Joyce Grenfell used to scrub floors for composer Richard Addinsell in his Mortimer Street flat. She was very attached to him.

Here’s a chance to find out about counter culture in Fitzrova

Barry Miles and Hannah Watson in conversation at the chapel

Wednesday 25 October, 18:30 to 20:30; tickets only £6

 Since the Bohemians settled in the area in the 1920s and named it after their favourite pub ‘The Fitzroy Tavern’, Fitzrovia has long held a burgeoning history of counterculture through its resident writers, artists and musicians.
Join cultural historian and Fitzrovia resident since the 1960s, Barry Miles, and more recent resident publisher of Trolley Books and gallerist, Hannah Watson, as they discuss the role of counterculture in Fitzrovia, past and present. This event is part of our #lineage series.

Life on Middlesex Hospital’s Aids wards revealed in book and exhibition

This exhibition is a timely reminder of how people came together to look after each other.

Fitzrovia News

A book containing a collection of photographs documenting the treatment of patients on London’s first Aids wards will be released with an exhibition in November leading up to World Aids Day.

Two men on a bed in hospital ward. In 1993, Gideon Mendel spent a number of weeks photographing the Broderip and Charles Bell wards in London’s Middlesex Hospital. Photo: Gideon Mendel.

The Ward, which is published by Fitzrovia-based Trolley Books, contains candid photographs of patients, their friends and family, hospital staff, along with texts from doctors, nurses, other people who worked on the wards and friends of patients, including Julian Clary.

“In 1993, I spent a number of weeks photographing the Broderip and Charles Bell wards in London’s Middlesex Hospital as part of the Positive Lives project,” says Gideon Mendel who will be exhibiting his work at the hospital chapel — the only remaining part of the Middlesex which closed in 2005 and was demolished shortly after.

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Great Portland Estates appears to have run out of ideas for street names

Fitzrovia News

As the massive commercial and residential development on the former Royal Mail delivery centre in Fitzrovia nears completion, developer Great Portland Estates appears to have run out of ideas for street names.

Rathbone Square sign. Rathbone Square is correctly signed and approved by Westminster council.

The Rathbone Square development will have office space for Facebook, 142 private residential apartments, cafes, shops and restaurants surrounding a central square within 50 metres of Tottenham Court Road station.

Rathbone Passage sign. A sign for Rathbone Passage was put up in error.

Pedestrian walkways running through the site and linking Newman Street to Rathbone Place have now been labelled with those instantly recognisable and iconic vitreous enamel street signs.

Street sign. A new pedestrian walkway is named Newman Passage by Great Portland Estates.

There’s Rathbone Square, Rathbone Passage, and… Newman Passage.

But hang on a moment. Isn’t there already a Georgian alleyway further up the road called Newman Passage? Yes, there is…

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Neighbourhood forum calls on Westminster council to reject Holden House redevelopment plans

Fitzrovia News

The Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum is urging Westminster council to reject plans by property developer Derwent London to part demolish and redevelop a cluster of commercial buildings on a corner site in the Hanway Street conservation area.

Corner of street. A major redevelopment is planned for the northwest corner of Oxford Street and Rathbone Place.

Plans by Derwent are for the demolition and redevelopment behind retained facades of 54-62 Oxford Street and 51-58 Rathbone Place (known as Holden House or Evelyn House); and for the complete demolition of 66 and 68 Oxford Street to be replaced with a new “high quality glass-block building”.

Nick Bailey of the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum has written to Westminster council’s planners saying the application should be refused.

“This is an important early work by Percy Adams and Charles Holden and we are concerned that the integrity of the listed building will be lost if redevelopment…

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Diesel parking charges increase in Fitzrovia, Marylebone and Hyde Park zones

I’d like to see some action to educate drivers who sit parked (often on a yellow line) with their engine running. Just switch off!

Fitzrovia News

A 50 percent surcharge will apply to drivers of pre-2015 diesel vehicles paying to park in Fitzrovia, Marylebone and Hyde Park zones from today (Monday 26 June 2017) as part of Westminster council’s Low Emission Neighbourhood initiative.

Map of parking zone f. Drivers of pre-2015 diesel vehicles wanting to park in the zone will be charge 50 percent more.

The hourly charge for pre-2015 diesel vehicles will be £7.35 and all other vehicles will continue to be charged £4.90 per hour, says the council. The surcharge will be added automatically at the point of purchase of parking time.

The area as a whole suffers from some of the highest levels of air pollution in Europe. The 50 percent surcharge level has been introduced to deter the heaviest polluting vehicles from parking in the zone, says the council.

Other measures being implemented include an expansion of on-street electric charging provision, and deployment of Air Quality Champions…

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