|Fitzrovia, London W1||[ Commercial & Character ] [ Eating, Things To Do... ] [ Interactive Map ]|
Fitzrovia, was once known as Upper Soho being located just a few minutes north of that rather better known if notorious neighbourhood. Traditionally associated with the more bohemian elements of society its modern focus - media/communications and entertainment - is perhaps typified by the dominating land-mark of the BT Tower (left).
Area Character & Commerce
The central street in Fitzrovia is Charlotte Street. Here the focal point now as throughout the 1920's to 1950's is The Fitzroy Tavern, which gave the area its name. This lively establishment once was the haunt of many notables such as Dylan Thomas, Augustus John, Tommy Cooper (an exceptionally gifted British comedian) and many others.*
By day communications and media are Fitzrovia's life-blood. It hosts the offices of TV companies such as Nickleodeon, CNN and formerly Channel Four television. Many advertising, PR, video and publishing companies lie tucked away in its various mews. Some more prominently displaying themselves on Charlotte Street for example Saatchi & Saatchi and Westhill Communications. The excellent XFM radio was to be found here too until recently, along with film companies such as Columbia Pictures.
A sign of the times: Many of these former 'old media' studios are now taken over by Internet companies such as Excite and CharlotteStreet.com. Since the early-Internet days of 94/95 Fitzrovia has been a natural gravitation for the 'new media': Europe's first Internet cafe (Cyberia) opened in Scala Street in '94. Here too was Digital's first European 'Internet Innovator' company, with which I was associated in '95 (Artewisdom - now merged with Westhill Communications).
Fitzrovia too still shows traces of its industrial base of former decades, the London 'rag-trade' i.e. wholesale textile and garment businesses. Their assistants who frequently double as models adding to the glamour provided by the often highly photogenic media people.
Entertainment, Eating & Events.
Outside of business hours the locale resumes its distinctly bohemian aura of former years. The prolific restuarants and side-walk cafes in particular lending a distinctly continental air to every summer evening. While several art galleries often rival the area's pubs for revellery as their patrons too, on exhibition opening nights, spill out over the pavements.
Found here are London's premier Italian restuarants evidencing what was once considered London's little Italy. In recent years the incursion of abundant Greek eateries has brought the familiar merry sound of excessive plate-smashing against a background of bazouki music interspaced with belly-dancer's tinkling cymbals.
Personal favourite old-established, reputable - mostly family-run - restuarants include: Navarro's (Spanish) in Charlotte Street; Pun Kum (Thai) in Windmill Street, Apollonia (Greek) in Percy Street and Spaghetti House (Italian) in Goodge Street. Very sadly the excellent Natraj (Nepali) recently closed after decades of great service and food when the owner retired.
Of the numerous pubs in the area, apart from The Fitzroy itself, a personal recommendation is the The Hope. Secreted away on the corner of Whitfield and Tottenham Streets (opposite the chip shop), this little bar features frequently changing guest beers of the traditional variety.
Our Annual Street Festival (early July) is becoming a bigger and better event every year: An evening when Charlotte Street is the scene of eating, drinking and dancing in the road (thankfully closed to traffic for once!). A highly recommended and of course free event - try to catch it! (See the FNA WWW site for more up-to-date information, text box above.).
Although not strictly within Fitzrovia - but both just 10 minutes stroll away - are: The British Museum and Regents Park. Excellent places to spend either a wet or fine day respectively, and also of course free to all comers.
So where exactly is Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia? Use this Location Map to find out!
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*An excellent book titled "The Fitzroy" by Sally Fiber is published by Temple House Books, 1995.
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