Real Bryant & May Locations: Nos 2 & 3

Bryant and May

2. Camden Catacombs
When I was researching ‘Bryant & May On The Loose’, I had a good rummage around under London, seeing how many odd places I could get into – the answer, post 7/7, is not many. Nearly all of the tunnels and passages I could access in my twenties are now closed off for security reasons. Luckily, there are a great many odd bloggers dedicated to the art of squirrelling around under the city and posting the results on their sites, from Sub-Brit and Underground Gal to Sub-Urban and The Mole.

My pal Bal reminded me of the Camden catacombs (above), part of which I explored when I was writing ‘The Water Room’. They were used as stables for the pit ponies that pulled the railway trucks. And recently I was surprised to discover that one location still exists although, peculiarly (and appropriately for Bryant & May) it has shifted to an even odder place…

3. Davenports
When I was a kid I had to be lured to the dull old British Museum with a promise of a trip to Davenports Magic Shop, which then faced the museum gates. It sold a few bits for tourists, but was mainly an emporium for professional magicians. Inevitable it vanished, to be replaced by a Starbucks – or so I’d thought.

Because it hasn’t vanished. It’s in the underground, down one of the pedestrian tunnels that used to lead to Trafalgar Square Station, now closed. Go to Charing Cross Station and head toward the square via the tunnels, and you’ll find the creepy red-curtained window at the end of the passage. It’s still open for business, and as quirky as ever. The shop features in the next B&M novel.