Coventry Street

Coventry Street is the understated yellow property on the Monopoly board. Nestled between the larger Leicester Square and Piccadilly, it is a short street that connects the two. First designed as a street for entertainment, it was built in 1681 and named after the politician Henry Coventry, the secretary of state to Charles II. It later got a shady reputation with the number of gambling houses and prostitution in the area which lasted for most of the 18th and early 19th Century.

Today, it’s nearly always thronged with tourists visiting entertainment attractions such as the Trocadero (originally a music hall), Planet Hollywood and The Hard Rock Store. Café de Paris, which opened in 1924 and was one of London’s first nightclubs, also resides here.

The origins of Trocadero can be traced back to 1744 where a 99 year lease was handed to Thomas Higginson in order to construct a tennis court. However from the 1820s onwards, it was used as a music and exhibition hall. After the lease expired, Robert Bignell acquired the land and built the Argyll Rooms. These were closed after gaining a notorious reputation for prostitution and gambling houses. During the 19th Century several musical halls where established including the London Pavilion, the Prince of Wales Theatre and the Trocadero Music Hall.

A group of shops were established on Coventry Street and the entire development was sold to J. Lyon’s & Co. The first J. Lyons and Co. Corner House was built in 1907. It was one of the first buildings in London to have a white-glazed terracotta exterior and was extended to accommodate 3,000 diners! In the 1920s, the street became a centre for nightclubs, attracting clientele such as Edward, Prince of Wales, Rudolph Valentino, Noël Coward, Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin.

Café de Paris opened in 1924 and became a popular club through the rest of the decade because of the owner Martin Poulsen’s friendship with the Prince of Wales. However tragedy struck on 8th March 1941, when a bomb went off killing 84 people including Poulsen. Owing to lack of water, a leg wound had be washed with champagne as it was the only substance to hand!

An urban legend spread in the 1920s that a vampire was stalking its prey on Coventry Street after a man was assaulted while walking down Coventry Street around 6am. He fell unconscious after the attack, and was rushed to Charing Cross Hospital, where he was found to have been stabbed in the neck by a thin tube. After another man was attacked a few hours later in a similar manner, followed by a third victim in the evening, however the attacker was never convicted.

Nowadays, urban legends and champagne showers are a thing of the past and it remains a popular tourist hotspot in London. With its many restaurants and nightlife, it is always full of enthusiastic tourists.

This article was submitted to be published by Conveyancing Data Services as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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