Thursday 7 October 2010

R.D.Blumenfeld on Holywell Street

October 23rd, 1900
There is a good opportunity for police interference in Holywell Street, that dingy old Elizabethan thoroughfare with its overhanging fronts, which runs from St. Clement Danes at the Law Courts, with Wych Street, into the slum district of the Bill Sikes country. I came through there to-day as far as the old Globe Theatre at Newcastle Street, and its shop windows were besieged by a crowd of clerks in their mid-day rest hour. These windows and front shelves are packed with vicious and gaudy literature, and other material, whose sort is hardly to be matched in the lowest quarters of Paris. If it were not for the further advertisement which this noxious old street were to receive, and thus increase its clientele, I should expose it in print. There are also one or two shops with good old books. Colonel Howard Vincent, who was head of the C.I.D. at Scotland Yard, says they once tried to clean out the vicious stands, but never succeeded, and now they have given it up because they hope that when the County Council gets to work on its improvements between the Strand and Holborn, Holywell Street and Wych Street must necessarily be included. Norman Shaw, the architect, told me the other day that he had been consulted on the scheme. He wants to make a great boulevard and base it on an ornamental circle opposite Somerset House, but he does not think it will ever come to pass.

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