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Friday, 5 October 2012

A wander down London's little back alleys, mews and arches.

This is a record of my exploration over the years of London's many back alleys, mews and arches. There is more to London than Big Ben and Madame Tussaud's. It's a shame more people (not just tourists but locals too) don't step off the much beaten path and wander off on a tangent down these little streets. There is instant peace and calm in them in contrast to the often manic pace and noise of the main streets of London. The cafe's are independent and  are also considerably cheaper than the franchises on the main streets.

Appropriately I'll start with Adam and Eve Mews in Kensington. Mews were originally built as a place of storage for horses and carriages. As the motor car became more popular they were converted to garages. Mews are usually only found in well to do areas of London as this one is.
These steps lead down to the River Thames in Wapping and are known as Alderman's Stairs. This was once a busy access point for passengers to board the ferry boats operated by the watermen.

 This less salubrious view is off an alley in Brick Lane. The Gherkin can be seen in the background. Like most big cities London is a city of contrasts, rich and poor, derelict and modern.
This narrow entrance leads to Catherine Wheel Alley and it's opposite Liverpool Street Station on Bishopsgate. It's the narrowest alley I've yet to discover. It exits at the other end in to Middlesex Street, otherwise known as Petticoat Lane of flea market fame.
This huge place is in Chamber Street in Tower Hamlets. It's beneath a railway line and was once probably a workshop. Now it's been abandoned. For the macabre amongst us, in a nearby arch identical to this, one of Jack the Ripper's victims was found.
This is Assembly Passage of the Mile End Road. Not a place I would wander down at night!
This is Denmark Place, it's reached through Denmark Street. Home of the early music industry in London and the alley is full of recording studios.
This large factory in Frederick Close (a mews) in Paddington was a musical instrument factory from the late Victorian period.
 This is Newman Passage, a fine example of the many narrow alleys that can be found in London. It's in Fitzrovia.
 This alley leads to Grimsby Street in Spitalfields. It's an arch beneath a railway and the steps take you over into an area near Brick Lane.
 This atmospheric photo is again beneath a railway in Braithwaite Street, near the Shoreditch High Street rail station.
Below is a little house at the end of a cul-de-sac and tucked almost under a railway line in Putney. I can't decide if I'd like to live there or not!
A typical mews entrance. It's Bryanston Mews West  in Mayfair. Always appealing, it invites you to walk into it and do a little exploring.
I don't think I've ever seen a mews tarmaced. I don't suppose the tarmac lorry can get through those small entrances to the mews. Cobbles are so lovely. This is Eaton Mews in Belgravia.
A very typical view of a mews. It's easy to see where the stables were. This is Queensgate Place in Kensington.
Another little alley, Lovat Lane in the City, still cobbled. I don't suppose this has changed in the 200 plus years since this was built.
A funny little house in a mews in Nottinghill where the chimney flue seems to have been added on as an after thought.
This alley is just up from a 'Roman' bath near Temple tube.
Every time I enter a mews or an alley I feel as though I've stepped back in time and it's the closest I'll ever get to time travel. 


  1. Great blog. Found you through "village london" group on Flickr. I work up in London 2-3 days per week and often spend my lunchtimes and evenings (in the summer) out and about discovering, photographing and blogging about London's mews, and smaller, less well known places.

  2. I am another fan of mews and alleys and secret places in London. I don't get there as often as I like to explore. I enjoyed your blog thanks