Personal Luxuries | The Haute Seat

A guest blogger reflects on his changing neighbourhood

Adieu, but not farewell, to a Lambs Conduit Street stalwart

A guest blogger reflects on his changing neighbourhood

Image: Ben Pentreath.

August 09 2011
Ben Pentreath

Last month saw another quiet change on Lambs Conduit Street, with the news that Len Fowler Trophies (www.lenfowlers.com) was moving. I confess I haven’t really been a great patron of Len Fowler Trophies over the years, although they do a very fine line in sporting cups, which, if you are short of an idea for a gift or two, can be very cunningly engraved with the recipient’s name and “Best Friend Competition 2011”, followed by the words “Runner Up”. (This idea I in fact stole from my good friend Maisie, who delighted her father one year with a “Best Dad Competition” trophy, only for him to subsequently read he had been placed in the Highly Commended category. A lovely way to put a smile on everyone’s face – and to tease without causing too much offence.)

Len Fowler hasn’t, thank goodness, so much left as just moved around the corner, to tiny Lamp Court, and they are very much alive in the sporting trophy business. One trusts, things being what they are in pre-Olympic London, that they will have a busy 2012. But they are vacating their high-street premises to make way for a smart underwear shop, the brand name of which I can’t quite remember at the moment but which can be found on the menswear floor at Selfridges if you can’t wait.

And so, step-by-step, the street changes. When I first moved to the neighbourhood, to my tiny flat around the corner on Great Ormond Street, there was still a greengrocer on Lambs Conduit Street (Ormonde Grocers) and a newsagent (called, with great originality, NEWSAGENT). How nice, I thought. The grocers closed three weeks later; the newsagent lasted a couple of years. McKanna Meats, the superb Theobalds Road butcher, continues to thrive, but there can be no doubt that things are on the move.

But before we start rehearsing the story as if a chapter from John Londei’s superb, poignant Shutting up Shop, can we take a moment to say I’m sort of thankful? I well remember my first Sunday on Lambs Conduit Street, on a sunny morning in June. I had moved into my flat the day before, and woke, expectantly, hoping to find several of the bustling weekday cafés open and ready to serve me eggs Benedict and good coffee. I walked around the corner to find metaphorical tumbleweeds blowing down the street, wondering if we had suffered a nuclear war overnight.

So do you mind if I’m just slightly pleased that things today are livelier? Changed, for sure; but not, for once, for worse. Sharp-eyed readers will note that last week’s Cult Shop is The French House, which joined the street a few months ago. We have all grown very fond of the People’s Supermarket, one year old this month; and frankly it’s rather useful to take a wander down Lambs Conduit Street if you want to buy an extremely beautiful mens or ladies shirt from Folk or Oli Spencer.

Let's face it, my own shop was until a few years ago a dry cleaners called Demos. I am very glad to say there is still one dry cleaner on the street, but we all missed Demos when he went (especially one of my neighbours, who had gone away for the summer, leaving his entire wardrobe of shirts and suits for a clean, and returned to find the shop closed forever. Oh dear).

So the dry cleaners became my homewares store, and another change made its mark. Until we learn that Demos’s daughter, Sophia Neophitou, is the editor of 10 magazine, and we suspect that nothing is quite what it seemed! Maybe he was responsible for our turning into Fashionable Street after all.

Long live change. Long live our street. Long live Len Fowler. And hello underwear store. I am looking forward to your arrival.

See also

Culture