Friday, 22 June 2007

Ginger's Guide to London Streets #1: Earlham Street, WC2

One of my favourite little random features of central London that I first discovered a couple of years ago is Seven Dials. It's an unusual arrangement featuring a sundial in the middle of a junction where (unsurprisingly) seven roads meet. Probably the only traffic roundabout on which people will mill around drinking a pint on a summer's evening. Well, without ASBO-waving police moving them on, anyway.

Anyhow, seemed like a good starting point, especially as, despite my supposed affection for the area, I only ever walk down two of the seven roads. Today I ambled down one of the others for a change.

Walking down Earlham Street is probably the most direct route to Seven Dials from Shaftesbury Avenue, if you're coming from Charing Cross Road. I was heading that way in the hope of going into Fopp, but it was closed for stock taking. Nonetheless my disappointment was brief, as I discovered some previously unknown delights.

Magma is a bookshop predominately given over to graphic design books and the like, although does have things on a number of other subjects. I was rather taken, for example, by 'World Changing' but wasn't entirely convinced that I had enough energy to lug it home. I settled, instead, for the rather lighter (in many ways) 'Pictures of Walls'. Fairly self explanatory really, although perhaps I should add that it wasn't simply a paean to grouting, but featured a lot of unusual and subversive graffiti. Inevitably there is a website with further examples. Excellent - something else to waste my time browsing!

A little further down is another artsy/graphicy place, The Dover Bookshop, seeming to heavily feature books about patterns. I was very much tempted by their range of colouring books, of various geometric designs, but I figured one impulse buy was quite enough for today!

I then spotted The London Bead Shop. I already know of a couple of similar suppliers within a few minutes walk of there, but I thought I may as well investigate. I had no need or desire to buy any beads, but my magpie-like tendencies provided a strong pull, so I permitted myself a couple of minutes browsing before escaping in fear that my purse should find its way out of my bag and head counter-wards.

On the street, there also seemed to be a mini-market, if you can call 3-4 stalls selling the usual array of T shirts such a thing. I wouldn't bother counting it on any list of London markets! I guess it added to the general randomness.

It wasn't until I looked up the place on a map just now that I realised that Earlham Street actually extends across Seven Dials and thus provides two of the seven spokes. Exploration of the other part will have to wait for another day...


PS. It wasn't till I went back to take photos that I noticed this wonderful shop frontage that I'd managed to walk straight past first time around. The sign above reads:

Established 1835.
F.W. Collins
Elastic Glue Manufacturer
(Sole Inventor 1857)
Leather Grindery
General Ironmonger


Mrs Mc said...

Did you know that the Seven dials area of London was a notorios
"rookery" of criminals & prostiutes and was belived to have been the basis of Dicken's Fagins Den in Oliver Twist. The area was pulled down and the clock replaces an earlier maypole on the site. One of Agatha Christie's crime novels is called "The Seven Dials Mystery" and is a good holiday read

Otepoti said...

The walls website you link is choice, but much too late for my favourite-ever piece of graffiti, which appeared briefly in my hometown after a food scandal in which Australian kangaroo meat was sold as beef: "Tie me casserole down, sport."

Ginger said...


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