Sights of Soho walk
See the sights of Soho - where Londoners have partied for centuries
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Soho has been London's playground for more than two centuries, where poseurs, spivs, chancers, bohemians, cynics, drunks and wide boys have come to spend their money. Use Time Out's guided Soho walk to explore the streets of Soho and discover the history of London's louche and libertine party zone.
Start at Soho's west end, on Kingly Street, a narrowly oppressive alley that runs parallel to Carnaby Street. No. 7 (1) was once a brothel owned by the Messini brothers, five Maltese siblings who ran Soho's vice trade from the 1930's until their empire was finally cracked by a crusading journalist in the 1950's.
Two doors down at no.9 (2) was Soho's other face. This used to be the Bag O Nails, the trendy nightclub where Paul met Linda and where Jimi Hendrix played his official introduction to the press in 1966.
Kingly Street still has fashionable bars such as Two Floors (at no.3) (3), secreted in Kingly Court, popular boho drinks club Tatty Bogles (at no.11) (4).
Turn left down Beak Street. At the corner with Carnaby Street is a plaque to John Stephen (5) who opened His Clothes in 1956, instantly making Carnaby Street the fashion mecca it remained for more than a decade.
Walk along Beak Street, up Lexington Street and right into Broadwick Street until you reach Berwick Street (6). Turn right and walk through the market, past pubs, bistros, adverts for 'models' and wholesale fashion outlets, to get a flavour of the old Soho.
The neon alleyway of Walker's Court is where the Raymond Revue Bar (7) opened in 1958, swiftly becoming London's most famous strip club. The area remains the centre of Soho's dwindling sex trade. Raymond's became the Soho Revue Bar, staging an eclectic range of burlesque and pop – much like its Brewer Street neighbour, Madame JoJo's.
Old Compton Street
Walk left along Brewer Street until it becomes Old Compton Street, London's gay superhighway. No.59 used to be the 2i's (8), the skiffle venue where a young Cliff Richard strutted his stuff in the 1950's. Further along, at the corner of Frith Street (9), is the Dog and Duck pub - a Soho landmark for generations chiefly known for its literary heritage and for its ever-changing ale selection.
At no.20 (10), there used to be a cheap Italian restaurant called Pollo, in which Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett whiled away his time. These days, your best bet for cheap food is the hardy Stockpot (at no.18) (11).
Head left up Greek Street, away from the Coach & Horses (at no.29) (12) where Soho flâneur Jeffrey Bernard held court for decades, and past Soho House (at no.40) (13), where the current crop of wannabes hope to channel the same vibe.
No.49 (14) was once Les Cousins, a folk venue (the mosaic featuring a musical note is still visible), while no.46 (15) was a house in which Casanova briefly lived.
Turn left again on Bateman Street and cross Frith Street. Next you reach Dean Street, the centre of Soho's private clubland. You have the Groucho at no.45 (16), favoured by writers and drunks; Gerry's at no.52 (17), favoured by actors and drunks; and, at no.41 (18), the Colony Room, favoured by artists and drunks for 60 years but forced to close in 2008.
Gerry's was once owned by actor Gerry Campion, who played Billy Bunter through the 1950's and 1960's. In 1963, membership included Tony Hancock, Galton & Simpson, Graham Hill, Stanley Baker and Wilfrid Brambell.
Non-members should head to the French House (at no.49) (19), where you can buy half pints of lager or decent wine and watch the Soho-ites wander past, on their way to assignations in drinking dens, shoulder to shoulder with the spirit of the past.