The heart of the West End

Image above (A picture given to us by the people of SO HIGH SOHO) and below: Before and now, Berwick street market

What is the future for Berwick Street?

We are trying to visualise and create an awareness of the wants and wishes of the local community in Soho, in order to get a discussion going on their ideas for Berwick Street future.  We want to hear and collect the peoples stories of the area, and develop a collaborative design, that stems from the context of the people and the market.

Starting with the collection of stories, drawings and passions of the people, we will work towards creating a visual awareness of what people want.

Today, there are 5000 residents in Soho, and it truly is a “little village within a big city” as one of the residents said.

Ronnie – started his flower stall ‘Ronnie’s Flowers’ 55 years ago – he is the heart and soul of Berwick Street!

Alec – holds a fruit and veg stall on the market

Wonderful friend of Ronnies – works for City of Westminster Street Cleaning

Pasquale – runs a hairdresser in Berwick Street, and works on the fruit and veg stall with Norman

Norman on his fruit and veg stall in Berwick Street


What is Berwick Street’s History?


Berwick Street is built


Street inhabited by mostly French Protestants


Peter Street (Southern end of Berwick St) described as a ‘short dirty street’


St James – the sub district of Berwick Street was the most thickly populated area in London. The overcrowding and unhealthy conditions, culminated in cholera outbreak that killed 700, and led to an effort to replace decaying houses with new artisan’s dwellings (three of which are now Ingestre Place).


The occupant of 101 Berwick Street was penalized from ‘placing out baskets and boards containing vegetables’.


The owner of 100 Berwick Street was penalized for a stall, which had stood in the street for 16 years.


Berwick Street Market becomes recognised. The vestry agreed that it caused little interference with traffic and that shopkeepers were in favour of its retention.


Peter Street (Southern end of Berwick St) described as ‘wretched hovels, and a disgrace to humanity’. As a result, the land was cleared to make way for the Pulteney School.


Many buildings were struck by high explosive bombs, and damaged beyond repair.


These damaged buildings, and the remainder of the four-storey block between Hopkins and Berwick Street, were cleared for the construction of Kemp House, by Westminster City Council (designed by Riches and Blythin).

Click on this link to see a film of the market in 1949 – buzzing with a ‘hive of activity’, but threatened with the fear of closure.

These photographs, taken in the 1930s, portray some of the ‘vibrancy’ and richness that the market experienced when it was double-sided.