Saturday, 9 March 2013

Wardour Street, London

Wardour Street is a street in Soho, London. It is a one-way street south to north from Leicester Square, up through Chinatown, across Shaftesbury Avenue to Oxford Street. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry refers to the street in his novel Under The Volcano; "He had not played one, and Hugh could play almost any kind of guitar, for four or five years, and his numerous instruments declined with his books in basements or attics in London or Paris, in Wardour Street night-clubs or behind the bar of the Marquis of Granby or the old Astoria in Greek Street, long since become a convent and his bill still unpaid there, in pawnshops in Tithebarn Street or the Tottenham Court Road...." (Pg. 158 )

The most famous night clubs in Wardour Street in the 1920s and 1930s were Chez Victor and the Cosmopolitan - there is no documentary evidence that Lowry visited either club.

Chez Victor was a very fashionable 1920s restaurant/night-club in Grafton Street (above Grafton Galleries). It was popularised by the then Prince of Wales and is best remembered as the place where Lesley Hutchinson (Hutch) serenaded Edwina Mountbatten and other rich socialites. It was owned by Victor Perosino. The club was raided in 1929 or 1930 and Perosino was deported – there are several versions of this tale which I can go into if you want. In the 1930s Chez Victor at 45 Wardour Street opened – I presume there is a connection.This appears to have been more of a restaurant – but was equally fashionable – I think it was still there at least to the late sixties. Chez Victor appears in most reminiscences of inter-war West End society. It was one of the key venues for the “Mayfair” set. Elvira Barney

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