London Wiki
Borough City of Westminster
District Theatreland
Length -
Number Range 1-460
Type Commercial
Post Code WC2
Adjacent Streets Aldwych

The Strand is a street in the City of Westminster, London. 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.

Two tube stations were once named after it: the former Piccadilly Line Strand tube station, afterwards called Aldwych but no longer in use, and the former "Strand Station" on the Northern Line now part of Charing Cross Station.


Etymology and use[]

Strand derives its name from the Old English word for "shore" or "river bank". (Swedish/Danish/Norwegian/Icelandic,Faroese, Finnish, German and Dutch have also derived their word for "beach" from the same Germanic root; many beaches in Ireland are still called "strands").

The street is popularly referred to as The Strand although the street address is actually just "Strand", hence, strictly speaking, "377 Strand" and not "377, The Strand". On the Monopoly board it is written as "Strand", while on the title deed card it is "The Strand".


Strand, shown in a 1593 map, as the principal route - parallel to the River, from the City in the east, to Whitehall in the west.

The modern Strand follows the course of Akeman Street, a Roman road running parallel to the river, towards Chiswick from Roman London. Together with Aldwych, it has been a major settlement area since Saxon times outside of the old Roman city walls. In the Middle Ages it became the principal route between the separate settlements of the City of London (the civil and commercial centre) and the Royal Palace of Westminster (the national political centre). In the archaeological record, there is considerable evidence of occupation to the north of Aldwych, but much along the former foreshore has been covered by rubble from the demolition of the Tudor Somerset Place, a former Royal residence, to create a large platform for the building of the first Somerset House, in the 17th century. From the Tudor period, the area was largely rural, with the River Thames providing the principle thoroughfare, and as such Strand contained several palaces inhabited by bishops and royal courtiers:

A 19th century print showing St Mary-le-Strand and the Strand front of Somerset House.

These had their own river gates and landings directly onto the Thames. The line of buildings on the Strand only became separated from the river with the construction of the Victoria Embankment in 1865-70. This moved the river some 50m further away. By this time, the streets had become built up, and the large houses were falling into decay; the area around the modern Aldwych becoming something of a slum and the Victorian era became a period of rebuilding.

The Strand became a newly fashionable address. 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 (1821-1894), 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. Virginia Woolf also writes about the 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 John Masefield also refers to a "jostling in The Strand" in his well-known poem "On Growing Old".


The Strand, by Coutts Bank (May 2001)

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 Theatre, the Royal Strand Theatre and the nearby Olympic Theatre. Other lost theatres on the 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 Theatre (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.

The Song[]

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), which dilates on its merits as a place of entertainment and relaxation as compared to the Rhineland:

The Strand, Looking Eastwards from Exeter Exchange, the church in the distance is St. Clement Danes. A circa 1824 oil painting in the collection of the Museum of London.

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.....cont.
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.

Prominent buildings[]


St. Clement Danes church, near Fleet Street

Two of the churches in the Strand now stand on island sites amidst the traffic. St. Clement Danes is believed to date back to the 9th century, but the present building is mainly a 17th century work by Sir Christopher Wren. St Mary-le-Strand was designed by James Gibbs and completed in 1717, to replace one demolished by Protector Somerset for building material for his adjacent Somerset House.

External links[]

The Hidden London page is [1].

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). That Wikipedia page probably contains more information.