I used to love Berwick Street. When I was 16 I hung out in the record shops buying obscure 7 inches to look cool, and when I was 17 I started my own fanzine with my friend James – called Cha Cha Cha, if you’re interested, voted the second best fanzine by Radio 1 in 1997, a big deal! – and we persuaded the record shops to sell it for us. We were in business! In Soho! When we saw the fanzine in the shop window we thought we’d made it. In a way we had.
Like most of Soho, Berwick Street has changed a lot since the 1990s. My most recent memories of it involve an ex-boyfriend who used to live there (his friend still does) and the drunken parties in their flat. But every time I wander down there – most recently with a Californian who’d never been there before and thought it was “awesome!” – it leaves me cold. I miss the record shops. I miss the market how it used to be.
Berwick Street was built in the late 1600s and was named for James FitzJames, the first Duke of Berwick. It’s best known for it’s market – one of London’s oldest markets – which stared in the late 1770s when shopkeepers put their stuff on the pavements. It became popular with Italian, Greek and Huguenot immigrants who opened up their own cafes and restaurants, which prompted the market traders to get the stock for them. Berwick Street Market introduced London to the sinful tomato (1880!) and the exotic grapefruit (1890!)
Berwick Street Market video
From British Pathé posted on YouTube
Berwick Street Market photos
Want to see more? Take a look at my Berwick Street Pinterest board