London Corners – Sicilian Avenue


Sicilian Avenue

It’s an odd little street where no cars can go, and all it does it cut off the corner of Southampton Row and Vernon Place near Holborn tube. It doesn’t have a very scintillating history; it was built in 1910 and named because of its colonnaded old-world southern Italian appearance.

Sicilian Avenue houses a branch of the Spaghetti House chain (the one in Knightsbridge was the location of the infamous Spaghetti House Siege), traditional Italian restaurants in London with a history dating back to the 1950s. But it’s now also the home of the Holborn Whippet, a new pub for beer-lovers that has turned the corner into a destination in its own right.

The avenue is one of those places that simply fetches you up short on a sunny day, forgotten, a bit unloved, but still there. Typically, shops never quite know how to capitalise on the charm of their surroundings, but here the centre of the cut-through (it feels a bit grand to call it an avenue) is filled with outdoor seating.  There are lots of these odd little streets still around – Cosmo Place springs to mind – and lately several have been returned to the city. I’ll be looking at those shortly

7 comments on “London Corners – Sicilian Avenue”

  1. Marc says:

    Wonderful little cut through that has special memory for me of being taken there for a meal out (Italian, I believe) by my godmother a long time ago.

  2. Alan Morgan says:

    Never even heard of it before now. Fantastic!

  3. Vivienne says:

    Clearly a protected area: all the shops have identical name plates – no logo-style odd typefaces though, unfortunately not all are individual shops. Holborn Whippet is getting a good many mentions, I note.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    The “infamous Spaghetti House Siege” – how fantastic that sounds. As if it had been lifted from a Holmes story or a Bryant and May, and I’d never heard of it before. Wikipedia, however, set me right

  5. Tom Ruffles says:

    I used to be a regular visitor to Skoob Books in Sicilian Avenue, but the last time I passed through, after a long absence, I noticed they had gone.

  6. Glenn Wood says:

    Skoob is now only 10 minutes from Sicilian Avenue, at the northern end of the Brunswick, just off Marchmont Street.

    Sicilian Avenue is also a useful cut-through from the hullabaloo and din of Southampton Row to the oasis of Bloomsbury Square and thence to the London Review Bookshop in Bury Place.

  7. Roger says:

    Skoob books have moved north to the Brunswick Centre, in a basement at the north end of it, Tom Ruffles.

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