Archer Street, W1D

Road in/near Soho, existing between 1671 and now

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Road · Soho · W1D ·
FEBRUARY
11
2019
Archer Street was Arch Street in 1675, Orchard Street in 1720 and Archer Street by 1746.

Musicians waiting for work on Archer Street.
Credit: Musicians Union
In Colonel Panton’s building petition of 1671, Archer Street first appears as a "short street leading from out of Windmill Street over against Windmill Yard towards St. Giles." Before 1836, the street came to an abrupt end at the eastern boundary of Panton’s ground. It was connected to Rupert Street by a narrow passage through a stable yard. But in 1836, the stable buildings had been demolished and Archer Street extended to Rupert Street.

Archer Street was lined for the most part with modest houses. Old photographs showed a pair of small cottages dating from about 1700.

So far, a normal Soho street history.

But in the twentieth century, Archer Street became known as a meeting point for West End musicians. The street became this hub due to its proximity to work places (nearby theatres and clubs) and places to drink and socialise.

The Apollo and The Lyric both had stage doors which opened onto the street. Meanwhile, the Musicians’ Union London Branch was also here - musicians would go there between a matinee and an evening performance in the many theatres nearby, or to find a deputy, or just to meet friends and colleagues.

By the 1940s, Archer Street was described as the place “where anyone would go if they wanted to book musicians for a ‘gig’, or to play on the big liners, which all employed musicians to play at meal times and for dancing, or for the summer seasons in the Holiday Camps.”


Main source: Survey of London | British History Online
Further citations and sources



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Musicians waiting for work on Archer Street.
Musicians Union


 

Soho

Soho is a world-famous area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London.

The name "Soho" first appears in the 17th century. Most authorities believe that the name derives from a former hunting cry. James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, used "soho" as a rallying call for his men at the Battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685, half a century after the name was first used for this area of London. The Soho name has been imitated by other entertainment and restaurant districts such as Soho, Hong Kong; Soho, Málaga; SOHO, Beijing; SoHo (South of Horton), London, Ontario, Canada; and Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires. SoHo, Manhattan, gets its name from its location SOuth of HOuston Street, but is also a reference to London’s Soho.

Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. Since the 1980s, the area has undergone considerable gentrification. It is now predominantly a fashionable district of upmarket restaurants and media offices, with only a small remnant of sex industry venues.

Soho is a small, multicultural area of central London; a home to industry, commerce, culture and entertainment, as well as a residential area for both rich and poor. It has clubs, including the former Chinawhite nightclub; public houses; bars; restaurants; a few sex shops scattered amongst them; and late-night coffee shops that give the streets an "open-all-night" feel at the weekends. Record shops cluster in the area around Berwick Street, with shops such as Phonica, Sister Ray and Reckless Records.
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