The history of the Cecil Brewer staircase and Heal’s flagship store at Tottenham Court Road.
London is full of some pretty spectacular staircases, many hidden from view from the general public. In my opinion, one of the capital’s most lovely ones is located in Heal’s furniture store in Tottenham Court Road.
Heal’s has a long history on Tottenham Court Road, having had a store on the street for over 200 years. Heal’s was originally founded by John Harris Heal (1772-1833), a feather dresser from the west country. He opened his first store in Rathbone Place in 1810, before relocating to 203 Tottenham Court Road in 1818. The store soon won over Londoners with its feather mattresses, which were significantly more comfortable than the typical straw palliasses that many were sleeping on at the time.
When John died in 1833, his widow Fanny (1782-1859) and their son John Harris Heal Jnr (1810-1876) took over the business and renamed it Fanny Heal & Son. In 1840, they moved the premises to the current site at 192 Tottenham Court Road with a new purpose-built store. The new building was designed in a Venetian Palazzo style by architect James Morant Lockyer (1824-1865) and was completed in 1854. Now incorporating No.s 186-198, it became known as one of the largest stores in the capital.
By 1916, Heal’s was under management by John Jnr’s son Sir Ambrose Heal (1872-1959), who had joined the family business in 1893 after completing an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. He wanted to modernise the business for the 20th century and enlisted his cousin and best friend Cecil Brewer (1871-1918) and business partner Arnold Dunbar Smith (1886-1933) to design a new store. The original building was demolished to make way for the new store, which was was built between 1914-1917. Brewer erected his namesake spiral staircase at the back of the store in 1916, ready to take visitors upstairs to the new Mansard Gallery. The helix of lights tumbling from the ceiling were added after World War II. The concrete and wooden staircase was refurbished in 2013 and a Bocci chandelier was added, completing its picture-perfect look.
If you look closely as you ascend the staircase, you may notice a bronze sculpture of a cat. Known as the store mascot, the cat has been perched on a windowsill of the stairs since they were built. One interesting story involves 101 Dalmatians writer Dodie Smith (1896-1990), who worked at Heal’s toy department for 10 years in the 1920s and had an affair with Ambrose Heal. She confessed in her autobiography to selling the cat, with an unimpressed Ambrose later writing to the customer to cancel the sale with a note reading, “Heal’s mascot. Not for sale.”
Although Heal’s hasn’t been a family business since 1983, it’s still trading in furniture and homewares on Tottenham Court Road over two centuries later. The store was Grade-II listed in 1974 and it’s magnificent staircase is still used by customers to access different departments.
- Heal’s, 196 Tottenham Court Road, Fitzrovia, W1T 7LQ. Nearest stations: Goodge Street, Warren Street or Tottenham Court Road.
For more London architecture posts, click here.
East London drinking and dining destination Number 90 is celebrating its fifth party with its biggest weekender ever. The Hackney Wick hangout will be hosting a mini festival over 4 – 7 April 2019. Expect DJ sets, gastro delights, new cocktails, competitions and art… and the festivities are free!
Located by the canal, the Hackney venue will kick things off on Thursday night with music from Stranger Than Paradise Records. The party really gets started on the Friday with Dutch DJ and producer Tom Trago hitting the decks, as well as Fabric’s new resident DJ Anna Wall and all-female collective SISU spinning until sunrise.
On Saturday evening, iconic record store Phonica Records will be hosting the festivities along with The London Disco Society, Late Night Tales and Vicious Creatures keeping the party going until 6am. During the night, revellers can expect a special surprise from Number 90’s neighbour space Studio 9294. Finally, the celebrations will wind down with a chilled Sunday. Enjoy a boozy brunch with Tropical Disco Records providing the Sunday soundtrack.
- Number 90 Bar & Kitchen’s 5th Birthday party takes place on 4 – 7 April 2019. Number 90 Bar & Kitchen, 90 Wallis Road, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN. Nearest station: Hackney Wick. Open Thu and Sun 12pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-6am. Free entry. For more information, visit Number 90’s website.
For the latest what’s on guide in London, click here.
With the rising popularity of Veganuary and more people making sustainable lifestyle choices, veganism is becoming more mainstream. With that in mind, Londoners are seeking more options when drinking or dining out. For a short time only, Dirty Martini have a limited-edition vegan cocktail menu. On offer until the end of March, the menu features a choice of five dairy-free, boozy creations, all priced at £9.
I went along to the Covent Garden branch last week to try them out with a friend. Upon entering the subterranean space, we were given a cosy, leather booth in the corner which was perfect for a girlie catch-up over cocktails. Despite being a Tuesday night, the atmosphere had just the right amount of party with a DJ playing a mix of new and classic hits in the background. We dove straight into the new vegan menu, with my eye naturally being drawn to the gin cocktails. I ordered The Pink Garden (Beefeater gin, basil liqueur and beetroot shrub with pomegranate, raspberries and citrus), while my friend opted for the 24 Carrot Gold (Havana 3 year rum, green Chartreuse, carrot, ginger, mango, pineapple and citrus). The Pink Garden was a unique flavour – with the beetroot, pomegranate and basil really coming through strong. Surprisingly, the contrasting sweet and savoury flavours worked really well and it was my favourite concoction of the evening.
Next up, I continued with the mother’s ruin theme with a more traditional-esque cocktail – the Lemon and Ginger Collins – a modern twist on the Collins (Beefeater gin, elderflower, ginger and lime, topped with soda). It was refreshing and light and would make a fabulous drink at a spring or summer party. Meanwhile, my friend wanted a sweet treat with the Smooth Operator (Absolut vodka, Kahlua, vegan cream and vegan chocolate), which she declared was a delectable dream and was drunk very quickly!
Delicious drinks aside, we also ordered food to accompany our drinks – well it was a school night! Having ordered vegan cocktails, it was only right to go for the vegetarian sharing platter. The board included Mac & cheese bites; vegetable dumplings; grilled halloumi, vegetable & pesto kebabs; Korean vegetable samosas and grilled flatbreads with mint yoghurt and hummus. Despite being a carb fest, the food was perfectly cooked and wasn’t oily. I particularly loved the mac and cheese bites and the kebabs, they were a great accompaniment to our cocktails. Overall, we had a fabulous evening. The cocktails were experimentally excellent, while the food, service and ambiance were also brilliant.
- The special Vegan cocktail menu are available at all Dirty Martinis until 31 March 2019. London branches at Bishopsgate, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Islington, Monument, St Paul’s and Minories. For more information, visit the Dirty Martini website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in March, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar reviews, click here.
It’s nearly that time again as one of my favourite festivals returns to the capital. If you’re like me and can’t resist a cocktail, then you can’t miss this three-day mixology extravaganza.
Cocktails In The City is a bi-annual cocktail festival featuring some of London’s best bars all under one roof. This year, the spring edition of the event will be moving to the atmospheric tunnels underneath Waterloo station. The Vaults will be transformed into a maze of sensory drink experiences over 4 – 6 April 2019. Expect plenty of drinking establishments, hidden rooms and top mixologists showing off their skills as they compete to be crowned the best bar.
This year, CITC will be curating seven arches offering different drinking experiences:
- The Secret Garden
Discover a world full of flora and fauna, overflowing with plants and botanicals. Explore B&H Buildings’ sensory Greenhouse on the mezzanine where you can choose your garnishes from the hanging plants discover new botanical cocktails with Mr Fogg’s and enjoy a drink in the garden.
- The Good Times Vault
Your favourite party bars such as London Cocktail Club will be ready to play. The drinks are always strong, the music is always loud and the night is always young.
- The Experimental Lab
Learn from the famed industry mavericks driving the city’s cocktail trends. Marvel at their cocktail wizardry in the experimental lab and get a sneak peek of the innovative techniques used to create award-winning drinks. Read the rest of this entry
Calling all art lovers – the Roy’s People Art Fair is returning to London this spring and is set to be the biggest yet. This bi-annual show provides an alternative platform for artists to show and sell their work. The spring edition of the fair will be taking place at Bargehouse in the Oxo Tower Wharf from 4-7 April 2019.
Roy’s People Art Fair differs from other art fairs as it aims to provide accessibility and community within the art world. The event is artist-led and affordable so artists aren’t seeing their sales dented by rental fees and big corporations taking a cut. Visitors will be able to meet and buy art direct from the 85 artists taking part in a relaxed ‘non gallery’ atmosphere.
During the fair, there will also be live painting, creative workshops, live music, and interactive installations, including a unique installation in the entrance hall by urban artist My Dog Sighs and goody bags worth over £100.
Roy’s People Art Fair was created by artists Roy Tyson and Samuel Peacock. Roy originally started the fair after his own experiences applying and exhibiting at art fairs. He teamed up with Sam to unite their knowledge to bring the fairs to the next level. They aim to work closely with the artists in the run-up to the fair to make sure the event is a successful experience for all participating.
- The Roy’s People Art Fair is running from 4-7 April 2019. Open Thur 5pm–8.30pm, Fri 2pm-8pm, Sat 12pm–6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. Tickets: Free on the website. At Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, SE1 9PH. Nearest station: Waterloo, Blackfriars or Southwark. For more information and to register for a ticket, visit the Roy’s People Art Fair website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in March, click here.
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day with fine food and drink at the Taste the Greatness of Northern Ireland showcase
Why not celebrate St Patrick’s Day with some of the finest food and drink from Northern Ireland? This month, traders from the region will be bringing their wares to London’s historic Borough Market. The foodie destination will host the ‘Taste the Greatness of Northern Ireland’ showcase from Wednesday 13 March to Saturday 23 March.
Throughout the event, guest traders from the country will be setting up shop in the Market Hall. Expect to see a wide range of products for sale, including meats, traditional breads, snacks, sauces and spirits including gin, whiskey and rum. Among the traders will be Indie Fude (13-17 March) – who established NI’s first cheese collective – and the Krazi Baker, aka Mark Doulas, with his soda and potato breads (20-23 March).
Food fans will be able to watch the Krazi Baker making the bread and get to sample it fresh from the griddle. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland celebrity chef Paula McIntyre will be in the demonstration kitchen (13–17 March), cooking up delicious traditional dishes using products available at the showcase.
On St Patrick’s Day on Sunday 17 March, Borough Market will open their doors for a free celebration. Families are invited to attend this fun event, with food, drink, cookery demos, live entertainment, as well as the fine produce of Northern Ireland to sample and purchase.
- ‘Taste the Greatness of Northern Ireland’ showcase runs from 13-17 and 20-23 March 2019. At Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, SE1 1TL. Nearest station: London Bridge. Opening times: Wed-Thu 10am-5pm, Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun (17 Mar only) 12pm-4pm. Free entry. For more information, visit the Borough Market website.
For a guide to what’s else is on in London in March, click here.
If you consider yourself a foodie and a book lover, there’s a special dining experience that could be right up your (Diagon) Alley. Docklands destination Plateau is launching a series of immersive four-course dinners inspired by some of literature’s most loved novels. Launching on World Book Day on 7 March, Supper Tales will feature menus inspired by The Great Gatsby, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter.
For the first meal on 7 March, head chef Frederick Foster has turned to F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel for inspiration. Diners will be transported to the glitz and glamour of the 1920s as they are invited to dress in suitable attire. Kickstart your evening like playboy Jay Gatsby with Champagne and canapés of smoked salmon and caviar on toast, duck liver pate and oysters on arrival. While being entertained with jazz era music and Art Deco-style interiors, feast on warm asparagus with Hollandaise sauce followed by Forsters mouth watering herb-crusted lamb rack with artichokes and rosemary-infused sauce. Finally to finish a sweet treat of caramelised lemon tart with Champagne poached rhubarb.
Taking place once a month, Supper Tales will continue on Tuesday 16 April with a Charlie And The Chocolate Factory-inspired menu (perfect for Easter!) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on Thursday 23 May.
- Plateau Restaurant, Bar & Grill, 4th Floor, Canada Place, Canary Wharf, E14 5ER. Nearest station: Canary Wharf. For more information, visit the Plateau website.
- The Great Gatsby Supper Tales will take place on Thursday 7 March 2019 at 7pm. Visit D&D London for tickets.
For Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
Find out what’s on in London in March 2019, including festivals, St Patrick’s Day celebrations and more.
Spring is apparently here… although we know there’s always a strong chance of changeable weather. With the days getting longer and warmer, Londoners can expect to see more festivals and events taking place across the capital in March. This month sees a selection of big events, including International Women’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day.
- 28 February – 3 March : The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show
Haberdashery festival featuring hundreds of workshops, demonstrations, interactive features and 200 exhibitors selling specialist craft supplies. Open Thu-Sat: 10am-5.30pm, Sun: 10am-5pm. Tickets: Adults £14, Children £6. Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the Knitting & Stitching Show website.
- 2 – 3 March : London Film And Comic Con Spring
A Spring edition of the hugely popular London Film and Comic Con. The chance to meet your favourite stars including George Lazenby, Robert Englund, John Simm, Joseph Marcell, Sylvester McCoy, Karyn Parsons, Colin Baker, Charles Dance, Lucy Davis, Peter Mayhew and many more. Tickets: Adults £18 (Sat), £16 (Sun); Children £12 (Sat), £10 (Sun). Olympia, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, W14 8UX. Nearest station: Kensington Olympia. For more information, visit the London Film & Comic Con website.
- 4 – 10 March : International Women’s Day @ Seven Dials
A week of events, offers and promotions celebrating women at the stores and businesses of Seven Dials supporting this year’s theme of #balanceforbetter. Highlights include a live podcast, hub featuring activities and events, film club, pop-up shops, panel discussions and more. At venues and stores around Seven Dials, Covent Garden, WC2H. Nearest station: Leicester Square or Covent Garden. For more information, visit the Seven Dials website.
- 4 – 15 March : Russian Maslenitsa
The Russian sun festival, featuring a host of events including Maslenitsa doll making workshops, Russia, Royalty & the Romanovs exhibition, culinary extravaganza, Shrovetide celebration for families with music, dancing and games and the Maslenitsa Celebration Concert. Venues include Concert Hall St John Smith Square, Russian Culture Centre, The Queen’s Gallery, Zima restaurant and Pushkin House. For more information, visit the Maslenitsa website.
- 7 March : International Women’s Day takeover @ Nine Lives
Neighbourhood cocktail bar Nine Lives hosts a female takeover on the eve of International Women’s Day. Artist Trinity Tristan will be creating a breast print artwork, Jenna Ba from Bulleit Bourbon and Kate Jackson from Ketel One will be mixing special cocktails, while DJ Vanille will be spinning on the decks. Nine Lives, 8 Holyrood Street, London Bridge, SE1 2EL. Nearest station: London Bridge. For more information, visit the Nine Lives website. For Metro Girl’s review of Nine Lives, click here.
- 7 – 10 March : Affordable Art Fair @ Battersea Park
A chance for people to buy a unique piece of art or photography for their homes at an affordable price. There are over 100 galleries, with pieces for sale ranging from £100 to £6,000. Tickets: £8-£25 in advance, more on the door. Battersea Evolution, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ. Nearest station: Battersea Park or short bus ride from Sloane Square tube. For more information, visit the Affordable Art Fair website.
- 7 – 30 March : Crystal Palace International Film Festival
Tenth anniversary of the CPIFF, featuring shorts and feature-length screenings, animation night, premieres, horror/sci-fi night, and documentary night. Tickets: £8-£22. At various venues including Everyman Crystal Palace, PictureHouse West Norwood, Stanley Halls & Anerley Town Hall. Nearest stations: Crystal Palace, Norwood Junction and West Norwood. For more information, visit the CPIFF website.
- 8 – 9 March : Women Of The World Festival
A festival of talks, debates, music, film and comedy celebrating women. Angela Davis, Naomi Klein, Lady Sanity, Jo Brand, Chidera Eggerue and Catherine Mayer among the featured names. Events range from free to £25, while or many included with day pass £30, two-day pass £55, three-day pass £80. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. For more information and booking, visit the Southbank Centre website.
- 8 – 10 March : Move It
The world’s biggest dance event featuring performances, classes, workshops, shopping, and talks by experts from all genres, including Aston Merrygold with BASE Studios, Italia Conti, Khronos Agoria – The Brit School, English National Ballet, Neil & Katya Jones and more. Tickets: Adults from £19, Children from £15 (multiple day passes available). ExCel, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, Docklands, E16 1XL. Nearest station: Prince Regent (DLR). For more information, visit the Move It website.
- 8 – 10 March : Glamour Beauty Festival
Glamour magazine hosts a three-day celebration of beauty, including big beauty brands, treatments, talks, goodie bags and more. Celebrity guests include Maisie Williams, Maya Jama, Laura Whitmore, Mollie King, Rylan Clark-Neal, Katherine Ryan, Pixiwoo, Megan Barton Hanson, Georgia Toffolo and more. Open Fri 5pm-9pm, Sat & Sun 9.30am-6.30pm. Tickets: £49-£80. Saatchi Gallery, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY. Nearest station: Sloane Square. For tickets, visit Eventbrite.
- 9 – 10 March : Vegan Life Live
Two day festival celebrating and exploring the vegan lifestyle, featuring clothing, cosmetics and food stands, talks, live music, cookery demonstrations, workshops and Q&A sessions. Open Sat 9 10am-6pm, Open Sun 10 10am-5pm. Tickets start from £12 (under 16s free). The West Hall, Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY. Nearest station: Alexandra Palace. For more information, visit the Vegan Life Live website.
- Now until 9 March : Qu Leilei – Echoes
A solo exhibition from Qu Leilei at the newest branch of the international 3812 Gallery. The show features pieces in water and ink, the ancient medium for painting and calligraphy in Chinese culture. Mon–Sat 10am-6.30pm. 3812 Gallery, 21 Ryder Street, St James’s, SW1Y 6PX. Nearest station: Green Park. For more information, visit the 3812 gallery website.
- 10 – 15 March : London Design Week
Interior design festival featuring over 100 events, including talks, demonstrations, showrooms, installations, food and drink. Open 9.30am-5.30pm. Free entry, but register in advance. Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, SW10 0XE. Nearest station: Imperial Wharf. For more information, visit the London Design Week website. Read the rest of this entry
The Daily Telegraph may have moved on, but its imposing offices remain.
The newspapers have long moved out of Fleet Street, but their buildings remain. Standing halfway along the iconic street is an art deco temple to journalism. Peterborough Court is the former home of the Daily Telegraph. Although the publication has moved on to Victoria, there are still subtle signs of the building’s former use on the façade.
The Daily Telegraph was founded in 1855 and its first offices were in the Strand, before it moved to 135 Fleet Street in 1862. In 1882, the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII – 1841-1910) opened the Telegraph’s new offices made of Portland stone and Aberdeen granite, designed by architects Arding, Bond and Buzzard. The building remained until the twenties when it was torn down to make way for the current design.
Peterborough Court was built in 1927-1928 to a design by architects Elcock and Sutcliffe, with Thomas Tait (1882-1954) and Sir Owen Williams (1890-1969) as consulting engineers. Tait worked on Adelaide House (the City’s tallest office block in 1925), later phases of the Selfridges department store on Oxford Street and the pylons of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Meanwhile, Williams was the head engineer for the original Wembley Stadium (1923-2003) and architect of The Dorchester. The building was named Peterborough Court after the Bishop of Peterborough, who used to have a house on Fleet Street. The name inspired the ‘Peterborough’ diary column in the newspaper, which remained for decades until it was renamed in 2003.
Likes it predecessor, Peterborough Court is also made of Portland stone. The building’s façade features a combination of art deco and neoclassical details. Large Doric columns give the building a sense of heritage, while its modernist elements represents the present. Standing tall with six storeys and a recessed top storey, Peterborough Court features seven windows across each storey. The centrepiece is the ornate coloured clock on its third floor level, full of Art Deco details such as diamonds, chevrons and sunburst motifs. Read the rest of this entry
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you may have noticed the avocado is having a moment. In fact, this is more than a moment as it has been happening for a couple of years now and you’d be hard pushed to find a brunch spot without avocado on the menu.
With this in mind, avo lovers are in for a treat this spring as Amsterdam’s famous The Avocado Show is coming to London for a limited time. The team behind the world’s first all-avocado concept will setting up camp at the Bluebird Chelsea from 11th to 24th March. The Avocado Show pop-up will be serving their stunning, stand out dishes using sustainable and socially responsible avocados.
The menu will feature creations influenced by chef Jamie van Heije. Among the dishes on offer include The Avo Garden (salad composed on top of an avocado), The Bun Burger (a wagyu beef patty with bacon and toppings served between two avocado halves) and The Benny Boy (poached eggs with house-made hollandaise served atop crispy bacon slices and avocado halves). The Bluebird Café will be transformed with plenty of foliage and greenery. Staff will be wearing branded The Avocado Show shirts as they bring TAS’s unique vibe to Chelsea.
The Avocado Show was launched in 2017 and was a big hit with foodies and critics. Today, The Avocado Show is open in several locations, has published a cookbook and developed avocado fries for sale.
- The Avocado Show Pop Up runs from 11-24 March 2019. At Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington or Sloane Square. For more information and booking, visit the Bluebird website.
For a guide to what’s on in London in March, click here.