London’s ‘Missing’ Areas


Do you ever find yourself in an unfamiliar stretch of street in your home city, unable to see how it fits with other parts? It happens to me all the time, and I know London pretty well. Yesterday I was in the odd little section between Leather Lane and Mount Pleasant in order to buy a screw. The man in the local hardware shop had sucked his teeth and shaken his head when I handed him a broken door handle, and said ‘Oooh, no mate, you want Clerkenwell Screws for that.’

Clerkenwell Screws just sells screws, and is next to an old emporium for professional magicians, a florists and an advertising art bookshop. It’s also beside a pub called the Griffin, where my mum met my dad when they both worked for scientific instrument-makers Griffin & Tatlock.

The area was popular with watchmakers, glassware and pen makers, and there are still a few such shops, but now it’s residential and dead at the weekends as more and more people buy flats to be near their offices. Just behind is London’s diamond quarter Hatton Garden, less ritzy than Paris’s Place Vendome but busy with couples looking for rings. Around the corner I found this, and on the wall an explanation:

5 comments on “London’s ‘Missing’ Areas”

  1. Peter A says:

    old emporium for professional magicians = International Magic. One of the 2 remaining family run magic shops left in London. The other being Davenports @ Charing Cross.
    Don’t be surprised to see Jerry Sadowitz working behind the counter of International.

  2. Sparro says:

    I thought such pleasant and delightful, small and useful emporia like ‘Clerkenwell Screws’ had long since gone, as I presume has that shop in Brick Lane that sold nothing but string and brown paper.
    Sadly, the likes of B & Q are no substitute; but you are lucky insofar as such mega-warehouses cannot make satisfactory inroads into central London, as they require ring-road sites for their hangar-sized floor-space.
    However, I await ‘B&Q Local’…..

  3. Sparro says:

    “Don’t be surprised to see Jerry Sadowitz working behind the counter of International.”
    As I child, I persuaded my mother to take me to (what I think was) Davenports, to buy some crepe hair such that I could make a false beard. I am convinced the man behind the counter who served us was Tommy Cooper; would this have been likely in the 1960s?
    Or perhaps the proprietor was a Tommy Cooper lookalike….perhaps they all sported a fez, I was only seven, so easily fooled, I suspect!

  4. Peter A says:

    Sparro, that sounds like it could have been Lewis Davenport –

  5. Peter A says:

    Here’s more info on the man –

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