Features

LONGER POSTS ABOUT THE STRAND

The Christmas tree goes up in Somerset House courtyard

The Strand in November

A set of photographs taken by Clare Brant, showing the Christmas tree being assembled in Somerset House courtyard, and remembrance poppies on display in the window of Coutts bank.
A balloon

Balloon on the Strand

The history of crazes is an enormously rich subject. We seem to be in the middle of a craze for fidget spinners, of which all sorts of varieties are on sale in the Strand. In 1784, the Strand was a key location for what became, for two or three years, a mad craze for balloons…
A Strand shop window

Souvenirs on the Strand

A recent walk along the Strand in search of fidget spinners led me to start thinking about souvenirs. Sadly the Strand doesn’t feature in London-themed merchandise – it’s not as cool as the other big streets. A couple of years ago I asked a souvenir seller why he didn’t have items with the Strand? He…
Constance Collier and Ellaline Terriss

From the Electrophone to the Xbox Kinect: Remediating the Gaiety Girls

In my last post I described how the Strand’s Gaiety theatre became famous as the home of the Gaiety Girls. Under the stewardship of impresario George Edwardes the Girls changed the face of London’s theatre world while helping to lay the groundwork for modern celebrity culture. In this post I want to focus on two…
The cast of The Shop Girl in an 1895 souvenir programme © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘Gaiety George’ and the Making of Modern Celebrity

During the 1890s and 1900s the Strand’s Gaiety theatre played host to a string of dazzlingly successful shows featuring the ‘Gaiety Girls.’ For the project Moving Past Present I invited artist Janina Lange to ‘reanimate’ two of the Gaiety’s best-known stars, Constance Collier and Ellaline Terriss, as digital avatars. The process of researching their lives…
King's College London Main Building ~1830

Victorian Lives Revealed

King’s College London has employed some of the great and good from the academic world over its 188 years but there are many members of staff, academics, technicians, clerical and domestic, who are less well-known or not known at all. A joint project between King’s College London Archives and University of the Third Age (U3A)…
A general view of the Watch House

The All-New Watch House

The scaffolding has recently come down from around the Old Watch House in Strand Lane, after a five-month restoration project sponsored by King’s College London and carried out by PAYE Conservation . It has been completely re-rendered, the zinc sheathing of the penthouse storey has been replaced, and the zinc, woodwork and wrought iron of the balcony…
Photographs from the Moving Past Present performance

Moving Past Present: Digitally Reanimating the Gaiety Girls

In the 1890s the Strand’s Gaiety theatre became famous as the home of a new genre: the musical comedy. The brainchild of Irish impressario George Edwardes, musical comedies like A Gaiety Girl, The Shop Girl, The Quaker Girl, A Runaway Girl and The Circus Girl beguiled audiences with a mixture of songs, spectacle, romance, daring…
The Eagle Hut, Aldwych, with St Mary-le-Strand, King’s College and Somerset House in the distance (watercolour by Henry Rushbury, Imperial War Museum © IWM (Art.IWM ART 1123); Rushbury was an official war artist during both World Wars.

The Eagle Hut and King’s College London

World War One undoubtedly had an impact on the Strand area.  When the United States of America entered the European conflict in 1917, the American Y.M.C.A. found space along the Strand for the Eagle Hut – a rest and recreation centre for their troops in the Aldwych which began services in August 1917 – in…