The Haymarket, West Side

Pages 210-214

Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.

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The Haymarket, West Side

THE boundary between the parishes of St. James, Westminster, and St. Martin in the Fields runs down the centre of the Haymarket; the history of the eastern side of the street and of the market from which the street takes its name, have been described in Survey of London, vol. XX, The Parish of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, Part III, 1940, pp. 95–100.

The street is marked on a plan of c. 1585 (fn. 2) as 'the waye to Charinge Crose from Colb[rooke]'. Faithorne and Newcourt's map, published in 1658 but surveyed in 1643–7, shows the road with only two or three houses on the west side, clustered at the south end. The name Haymarket was first applied to the street in the ratebooks of St. Martin's in the Fields parish for 1657, and building appears to have begun shortly after the Restoration. (fn. 3) Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1681–2 shows houses standing along the full length of both sides of the street.

The freehold of all the ground on the west side of the street still belongs to the Crown; it formed part of the land leased in 1661 by Henrietta Maria's trustees to the Earl of St. Albans's trustees for thirty years; subsequent grants extended their term to 1740.

Strype described the Haymarket in 1720 as 'a spacious Street of great Resort, full of Inns, and Houses of Entertainment; especially on the West Side. . . . The Market for Hay and Straw, here kept every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, makes it to be of good Account. The Inns, or Yards, on this Side, beginning next towards Pickadilly, are, Black Horse Yard; David's Yard, both for Stablings. Nag's Head Inn, indifferent large. Cock Yard, for Stablings. White Horse Inn, a Place of Good Resort. Phenix [sic] Yard, and Unicorn Yard, both for Stablings, and Coach-houses, much resorted unto.' (fn. 4) The establishment of the Opera House, with its continental connexions, at the south-west end of the Haymarket was probably the reason for the large number of inhabitants of foreign extraction in the street. In 1749 Paul De Lamerie, probably the goldsmith of that name, (fn. 5) held the lease of two houses on the west side, (fn. 6) and in 1764 the Haymarket was described as 'greatly frequented by foreign tradesmen, especially Italians, who have perfume shops in many parts of this great street'. (fn. 7) On the east side was the Orange coffee house, which was 'chiefly used by opera dancers, and castratas'. (fn. 8)

In the 1780's the street was noted for curious exhibitions. George Baily advertised a monster 'brought from Mount Tibet' which was considered 'to approach the human species nearer than any other hitherto exhibited, and is supposed to be the long lost link between the human and brute creation'. In an adjoining house there was also a cow with three horns from Berkeley in Gloucestershire, and a calf with two heads and two necks; they had been exhibited to the University of Oxford and to the King at Windsor, 'who allowed them to be the greatest curiosity in the Kingdom'. (fn. 9)

In 1783 it was stated in the second edition of James Ralph's A Critical Review . . ., that 'the length and breadth of the Haymarket, and the pleasing declivity of the ground, give it a degree of consequence, which the insignificance of its buildings cannot entirely destroy'; even the Opera House then presented 'an execrable front to the street'. (fn. 10) The indifferent quality of the buildings may be attributed largely to the existence of the market, which in the month of February 1774 was attended by over thirteen hundred hay and straw carts. (fn. 11)

John Nash's plan for the formation of the New Street from Carlton House to Marylebone Park provided also for the widening of the east end of Pall Mall by the demolition of a number of houses on the north side, and for the extension eastward of Jermyn Street and Charles Street (now Charles II Street) into the Haymarket. This improvement, which also included the refronting of the Opera House, was completed by 1819, (fn. 12) and provided the Haymarket with direct access to the aristocratic neighbourhood of St. James's Square. The continued existence of the market nevertheless caused increasing obstruction in the street— between Lady Day 1827 and Lady Day 1828 over 26,000 loads of hay and straw were registered by the toll collectors (fn. 11) —and an Act of 1830 provided for its removal to a new site on the Crown estates in St. Pancras. (fn. 13)

Apart from the impressive 'Grecian' recasing of the Opera House by Nash and Repton, Tallis shows that by 1839 nothing had been done to remove the stigma cast on the Haymarket's buildings in 1783. He shows a succession of house fronts, some wide, some narrow, three or four storeys high and all with shop-fronts except No. 68. Some houses, such as No. 45 and Nos. 55–56, might well have dated from around 1700, while Nos. 64–69 looked like a uniformly fronted range dating from the late eighteenth century, but none calls for special notice.

Piccadilly Circus Tube Station

In 1903 the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, in association with the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway Company and the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway Company, agreed with the Office of Woods and Forests to lease Nos. 224–225 Piccadilly, 40–45 (consec.) Haymarket and 1–5 (consec.) Jermyn Street for the construction of a tube railway station. (fn. 14) (fn. 1) The construction of a joint station for the two lines now known as the Piccadilly and Bakerloo began in the same year, from plans which appear to have been prepared by Leslie W. Green, architect to the Underground Electric Railways Company. The buildings above ground were designed by Delissa Joseph but when the station was opened in 1906 these were completed only to mezzanine level. (fn. 14) On the ground floor and mezzanine the arcades built in purplybrown glazed terra-cotta conformed with the standard pattern adopted by the Underground Electric Railways Company for all its stations. It was hoped that this design would make the stations quickly recognizable to the travelling public. (fn. 15) The station had separate entrances, booking offices and lifts for the two lines. (fn. 16) The platforms were finished with a trimming of blue and green tiles, part of an elaborate plan to assign each station a distinctive colour for ease of identification. (fn. 17)

The upper floors of the buildings above ground were completed in 1910 to the designs of Delissa Joseph, (fn. 18) who carried out similar work at a number of other tube stations. They were intended for use as flats, but appear to have housed a hotel for a number of years; they are now used as offices. (fn. 19)

Below ground the approaches to the platforms were largely rebuilt between 1925 and 1928, when the escalators and circular concourse beneath Piccadilly Circus were constructed. (fn. 20) The architects were Adams, Holden and Pearson and the contractors John Mowlem and Company. (fn. 21) Between 1929 and 1931 the space at ground level which had formerly been occupied by booking offices and the tops of lift shafts was converted into an arcade of shops. (fn. 22)

The Piccadilly entrance to the station is contained in the two-storeyed stage faced with purply-brown faience, this serving as a base for the four-storeyed upper face of stone designed by Delissa Joseph. The ground storey is divided into three bays by pilasters supporting an entablature from which, over the wide centre bay, springs a round arch framing a window in the second storey. At either side of the arch is a lunette with a segmental pediment-hood, and at second-floor level runs a modillion cornice stopped by big brackets. The upper and later part of the front is divided into three bays by Ionic pilasters rising through three storeys, with two-light stone-mullioned windows in each of the bays. The sixth storey continues this arrangement with short Doric pilasters, and above the entablature is a balustrade broken centrally by an ornately fronted dormer window set in a stone cupola.

The buildings over the Jermyn Street and Haymarket entrances have similar fronts, the former being five bays wide and the latter three, but here the bays in the upper storeys are wider and contain three-light windows, while the arches below form a continuous arcade, the spandrel of each arch being decorated with a small cartouche.

The six-storeyed block on the corner-site between the Jermyn Street and Haymarket entrances, though also by Delissa Joseph and of the same date, is not related by design to its neighbours. The stone front is rusticated in all but the two lowest storeys, and there are cornices at second- and fifth-floor levels. Display windows fill the ground storey towards Haymarket, and in the second storey are four windows, the middle two paired and all having keystones. Above, each storey contains two three-light windows, those at third- and fourth-floor levels having iron-railed balconies. Towards Jermyn Street each storey has two pairs of windows and the splayed angle has one window at each level. There is a pedimented doorway in the ground storey and a large cupola raised above the top cornice.

The Gaumont Cinema

Formerly the Capitol

This building stands on the site of the market built in 1817–18 (see page 218). It is described on page 220.

Nos. 59–60 Haymarket

The building known as Nos. 59–60 Haymarket was built in 1876–7 from the designs of John Wimble, surveyor, of Queen Victoria Street. The builders were Messrs. Newman and Mann, whose tender was for £10,426. (fn. 23) The new block replaced three old houses latterly occupied by the Blue Posts public house and the Hotel de Cologne. (fn. 24)

The present building has been much altered in the ground storey and its interest centres on the three upper storeys and the dormer windows. These are stone-fronted with three windows to each storey, the centre windows forming part of a raised, rusticated feature. The outer windows have two lights and the centre ones three, all of them divided by richly carved mullions. Fluted Corinthian pilasters flank each window and support an entablature, the second-storey windows being the most ornamental, with paterae on the friezes and a pediment over the centre window. There are stringcourses at sill and cornice levels, and between them, beneath each window, is an enriched panel. Above the modillion cornice stand three dormer windows with ornate fronts, the centre one having a panelled frame crowned by an urn finial and two reclining female figures.

The Carlton Theatre

The Carlton Theatre stands on the ground formerly occupied by Nos. 62–65 (consec.) Haymarket, Nos. 5–9 (consec.) St. Alban's Place, and the whole of Anglesea Yard (formerly Carlton Stables). (fn. 25) Clearance of the site was begun in the summer of 1924, (fn. 26) and the completed theatre was opened on 27 April 1927. (fn. 27) The design was prepared by Frank T. Verity, assisted by Samuel Beverley. (fn. 28) Messrs. Arthur Vigor Ltd. were the general contractors and Major C. H. Bell was the consulting engineer. The fibrous-plaster decorations were carried out by G. Jackson and Sons, Ltd., (fn. 28) the decorative painting by Marc-Henri and Laverdet. (fn. 29)

During its first year the theatre was used for stage productions, but in the spring of 1928 it became a cinema. In 1957 a new canopy was designed for the Haymarket frontage by the firm of Verity and Beverley. (fn. 30)

Although the Carlton is now used exclusively as a long-run cinema, the building was designed for use as a cinema and a playhouse, having ample dressing-room accommodation and a deep stage fully equipped with a cyclorama and an elaborate lighting system including Schwabe-Hasait cloud projectors. The plan, which more or less repeats the successful arrangement followed in the Plaza Theatre by the same architects, has a shallow lobby opening from the Haymarket to a long foyer with a staircase at each end. One flight descends to the stalls, which extend almost to the front building line, and another flight ascends to the narrow foyer serving the upper tier, which extends back above the foyers. On the same level as the entrance foyer is a shallow tier of 'de luxe' seating, the total number of seats in the theatre being some 1200.

The front, which is faced with Portland stone, is now half-hidden by posters and electric signs. It is a symmetrical composition in the late Italian Renaissance style, and is insulated from the adjoining buildings by plain recessed pylons. The ground storey contains a central group of six entrance doors, divided into pairs by marble piers, and at each end is a bronze-framed poster panel. The upper part of the front contains three tiers of windows, widely varying in size, shape and treatment. In the first tier are five with openings of similar rectangular form, all having corniced architraves rising from projecting aprons, but the middle three have balustrades and are framed in round-arched recesses, the tympana being carved with putti and foliage. Each end window has a panelled apron and the cornice is surmounted by a swan-necked pediment broken by a large cartouche. In the second tier the three middle windows are reduced to small recessed oblongs and overshadowed by the carved stone balcony of the top tier, but each side window has an almost square opening, protected by a wrought-iron grille and framed in an eared-and-shouldered architrave. The top tier has a central group of three large square openings, each divided into two lights, with flat voussoired arches and carved mask keystones, and at either end is an oval window framed in a serpentine-sided architrave. The front is finished with a bold modillioned cornice and a high pedestal-parapet.

The interior is also Italian in style, although much of the decorative plasterwork is derived from Adam sources, such as the segmental ceiling of the entrance foyer. In the auditorium, the stalls are lined with imitation walnut panelling which is continued as a dado across each of the splayed concave walls flanking the proscenium, below a large box designed in the form of a Venetian window, with a screen of Corinthian columns and a fan-lunette of panels enclosed by the plain outer architraves. The walls are finished with a deep entablature, having a frieze of anthemion ornament, and the ceiling is beamed in the style of an Italian wooden ceiling.

Her Majesty's Theatre

Her Majesty's Theatre stands upon part of the site of the former King's Theatre or Opera House, whose history is described in Chapter VIII (see page 245 for the present Her Majesty's Theatre).


  • 1. Part of this site had previously been earmarked in 1898 for a station by the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway, but financial difficulties had prevented any work being done above ground.
  • 2. Reproduced in C. L. Kingsford's The Early History of Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Soho . . ., 1925.
  • 3. Ibid., p. 92.
  • 4. John Strype, A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1720, vol. ii, bk. VI, p. 83.
  • 5. Sir Ambrose Heal, The London Goldsmiths 1200– 1800, 1935, p. 140.
  • 6. P.R.O., LRRO60/616.
  • 7. Rev. George Reeves, A New History of London, 1764, p. 181.
  • 8. Roach's London Pocket Pilot, 1793, p. 53.
  • 9. W.P.L., A. M. Broadley, The Story of the Haymarket, 1911 : The Street, pp. 230–8.
  • 10. James Ralph, A Critical Review of the Public Buildings . . . in and about London and Westminster, 1783 ed., p. 177 ; the Haymarket is not mentioned in the edition of 1734.
  • 11. M.C.R.O., Haymarket miscellaneous accounts.
  • 12. Third Report of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, 1819, p. 16.
  • 13. II Geo. IV, c. 14, public general.
  • 14. C.E.O., files 15430, 15433.
  • 15. C.E.O., file 15430; Passingham, op. cit., p. 71.
  • 16. C.E.O., file 15430.
  • 17. The Builder, 17 March 1906, p. 280.
  • 18. C.E.O., files 15433, 15647, 16969.
  • 19. Ibid., files 15647, 17872.
  • 20. Passingham, op. cit., pp. 84–5.
  • 21. Inscription in concourse of station.
  • 22. C.E.O., file 16969.
  • 23. Ibid., file 12698; The Builder, 22 April 1876, p. 398; P.O.D.
  • 24. C.E.6., file 11769.
  • 25. Ibid., building agreement book 6, pp. 265, 269.
  • 26. Ibid., file 16690.
  • 27. The Times, 28 April 1927.
  • 28. The Builder, 27 April 1927, p. 682.
  • 29. Information supplied by Mr. Walter Ison.
  • 30. C.E.O., file 17033.
  • 31. Ibid., file 15430; F. H. Howson, London's Underground, 1951, p. 45; W. J. Passingham, Romance of London's Underground, [1932], p. 62.