Strand, London  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London, England. It is just over 3/4 of a mile long. It currently starts at Trafalgar Square and runs east to join Fleet Street at Temple Bar, which marks the boundary of the City of London at this point, though its historical length has been longer than this.

At the east end of the street are two old churches, St Mary-le-Strand and St Clement Danes which are now, owing to road-widening, situated on islands in the middle of the road. The length of road from St Mary's church eastwards up to St Clement's was widened in 1900 and subsumes the former Holywell Street which forked from the Strand and ran parallel with it to the north. The Strand marks the southern boundary of Covent Garden.



After the demolition of most of the grand mansions and departure of their aristocratic residents for the West End the area acquired a dissolute but lively reputation and became notable for its coffee houses, low taverns and cheap women. The Dog and Duck tavern on the Strand was famed as a venue for the conspirators involved in the Gunpowder Plot. And, in the time of the English Civil War, the Nag's Head tavern was the venue of a meeting between Henry Ireton and some of the Levellers which resulted in the production of a document called the Remonstrance of the Army which demanded the abolition of the monarchy and the trial of Charles I. In the nineteenth century the Coal Hole Tavern, under the management of Renton Nicholson, was notable for song-and-supper evenings, tableaux vivants of scantily clad women in poses plastiques, and a ribald "Judge and Jury" show.

Literary life

In the 19th century much of the Strand was rebuilt and the houses to the south no longer backed onto the Thames, separated from the river by the Victoria Embankment constructed 1865-70. This moved the river some Template:Convert further away. The Strand became a newly fashionable address and many avant-garde writers and thinkers gathered here, among them Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and the scientist Thomas Henry Huxley. 142 Strand was the home of radical publisher and physician John Chapman, who not only published many of his contemporaries from this house during the 1850s, but also edited the Westminster Review for 42 years. The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was also a house guest. A lower grade of publishing was promoted at the east end of Strand where Holywell Street was the hub of Victorian pornography trade, until the street was physically eliminated by the Strand road widening in 1900. Virginia Woolf also writes about Strand in several of her essays, including "Street Haunting: A London Adventure." T.S. Eliot alludes to The Strand in his 1905 poem "At Graduation" and in his 1922 poem "The Waste Land" (part III, The Fire Sermon, v. 258: "and along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street") John Masefield also refers to a "jostling in the Strand" in his well-known poem "On Growing Old".


The Strand was the hub of Victorian theatre and nightlife. However, redevelopment of the East Strand and the construction of the Aldwych and Kingsway roads in the 1890s and early years of the twentieth century led to the loss of the Opera Comique, the Globe, the Royal Strand Theatre and the nearby Olympic Theatre. Other lost theatres on Strand include the Gaiety Theatre (closed in 1939, building demolished in 1957), Terry's Theatre (converted into a cinema 1910, demolished 1923), and the Tivoli (closed 1914 and later demolished; in 1923 the Tivoli Cinema opened on the site and was closed and demolished in 1957 to make way for Peter Robinson's store).

Surviving theatres include the Adelphi Theatre, the Savoy Theatre and Vaudeville Theatre and, closely adjacent in Wellington Street, the Lyceum Theatre.


Charing Cross railway station built on the Strand in 1864 provided a boat train service to Europe. This stimulated the growth of hotels in the area to cater for travellers. These included the Charing Cross Hotel, attached to the station itself. Today, luggage outlets and tourist agents on the Strand testify to the former international connections of the area. Also symbolic of world travel are the old postage stamp dealers on the Strand, including that of Stanley Gibbons.

Popular culture

The Strand is the subject of a famous music hall song Let's All Go Down the Strand (words and music by Harry Castling and C. W. Murphy). The song opens with a group of tourists, staying the night at Trafalgar Square about to embark for Rhineland - presumably via the boat train from nearby Charing Cross railway station:

<poem> One night a half 'a dozen tourists Spent the night together in Trafalgar Square. A fortnight's tour on the Continent was planned, And each had his portmanteau in his hand. Down the Rhine they meant to have a picnic Til' Jones said, "I must decline--" "Boys you'll be advised by me to stay away from Germany-- What's the good a' going down the Rhine."
Let's all go down the Strand -- Have a banana! Let's all go down the Strand!
I'll be the leader, you can march behind. Come with me and see what we can find! Let's all go down the Strand -- Have a banana! Oh! What a happy land. That's the place fer fun and noise, All among the girls and boys. So let's all go down to the Strand. </poem>

The song has inspired a version by the group Blur. The lines "Let's all go down the Strand" and "Have a banana!" are also referenced by English comedian Bill Bailey during his stage routine on Cockney music.

Art-Rock group Roxy Music took the Strand as inspiration for their 3rd single "Do the Strand", from the 1973 For Your Pleasure album.

Progressive rock group Jethro Tull references the Strand in the song "Requiem", from their 1975 album ""Minstrel In The Gallery"".

John Betjeman used the title of the song for a television documentary made for Associated-Rediffusion in 1967, and in the same year Margaret Williams for a stage comedy. The Strand was also the locale where Burlington Bertie, the hero of another popular music hall song, sauntered along "like a toff".

The Strand Magazine was named after the street, and began publishing in 1891. A BBC World Service arts and culture radio series is called The Strand. The World Service broadcasts from Bush House situated on Strand.

Roddy Frame sings in his song, "Over You", the line "Me, stuck on the Strand" to mean that he's on the dividing line between one manner of thinking and another.

In the 2008 film adaptation of C. S. Lewis' second novel in the Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian, the four Pevensie children are on the platform in the Strand Tube Station when the call of Susan's magical horn summons them back to Narnia. They return there at the end of the film, in time to depart for boarding school.

Other notable buildings

See also

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