Document 285635

Background and Introduction
Summary of Proposals
Existing Responsibilities
Brief History of Covent Garden
A New Piazza Plan
Management Overview
Improvement Proposals
Building Façades
King Street - South Side
King Street - North West Side
King Street - North East Side
Henrietta Street - South Side
Henrietta Street: North Side
Market Building - West and East
Market Building - North and South
The Piazza - West and East
The Piazza - North Side
The Piazza - North East/ROH Development
The Piazza - South Side
Russell Street - North
Russell Street - South
Southampton Street
Southampton Street - East Side
James Street - West Side
James Street - East Side
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
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Guidance for Building Owner/Occupiers
External Colours
Historic Paints and Colours
Shop Signs
Blinds and Security
Space Between Buildings
Street Design Concept
Paved Surfaces
Bollards and Barriers
Litter Bins
Tables and Chairs
Information Signs
Information, Orientation & Interpretation
Regulation Signs
Local Wardens
Street Drinking
Public Toilets
Public Telephones
Street Trading
Umbrellas and Undesirable Clutter
Public Art
Public Entertainment
Planting and Flowers
“…By the early 19th century the character of the market as well as the
neighbourhood had been transformed. Traders in crockery, poultry,
bird-cages, locks and old iron had moved in, giving the growers and
dealers in fruit and vegetables excuses to flout the rules of the market
and to complain about the payment of tolls. In and attempt to bring
order out of chaos, the 6th Duke of Bedford obtained an Act of
Parliament to redefine his authority in 1813; but in 1826 the family
solicitor still complained that the market displayed a ‘total want of that
systematic arrangement, neatness and accommodation which tends
obviously to facilitate and increase public convenience…’ What was
required was a new Act of Parliament to replace the faulty one of 1813
and, in particular, to authorise a schedule of tolls… where the
tradesmen could carry on their business in regularly assigned areas…”
(The London Encyclopaedia, Covent Garden. Edited by Ben Weinreb
and Christopher Hibbert).
“The Trust has become increasingly concerned at the deterioration in
the general appearance of the Piazza and the surrounding area; in
particular the proliferation of unlawful temporary structures, illegal
signage and so on..”
(Design Guidelines Committee Covent Garden Area Trust:Brief for an
Environmental Study of Central Covent Garden).
Amongst the land sold by the London Residuary Body following the
abolition in 1986 of the Greater London Council (GLC), the Covent
Garden Piazza was the most famous. The restoration of the Piazza
and its operation as a speciality shopping centre by the GLC was an
unusual example of municipal enterprise, made possible in part
because the Authority was both the freeholder and the planning
authority. This combination enabled the GLC to create a successful
and profitable commercial operation, whilst respecting the integrity
of one of London’s greatest squares. The operational policy and mix
of uses was not set with the shareholders’ return as the criteria, but
by lengthy consultation and the desire to offer Londoners a ‘new’
square and within it an unusual shopping centre with genuinely
specialist operators. Moreover, this not entirely commercial policy
was a tremendous commercial success, as evidenced by the price paid
for the Piazza and surrounding freeholds.
The Apple Market.
Londoners and other visitors were clearly attracted by the quality of
the restoration, the beauty of the Piazza, the well run street
entertainment and shops which did not replicate the endless rows of
‘multiples’ available elsewhere in London. The sale of the Piazza
raised two potential problems: how would a commercial operator
manage a public open space and how could the commercial return be
increased to cover the very substantial purchase price, without
sacrificing the special mix of uses and without taking over the ‘public’
spaces for income generating activities?
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The Covent Garden Area Trust (CGAT) was established after
prolonged lobbying of Government and the London Residuary Body
in order to maintain the special character of the area and to preserve
its unusual built environment. We commissioned this Study to help
further these objectives, which can only be achieved through cooperation with all the interests involved in Covent Garden. In
considering and adopting the original Study following publication,
the City of Westminster agreed to support periodic reviews of
progress on improvements in the area and this support has resulted
in the current revised version. All concerned have contributed to it
with enthusiasm: we hope that those involved in the Piazza will play a
part in its realisation.
David Bieda
Chairman, CGAT Design Guidelines Sub-committee 1997 - 2004
The City of Westminster welcomes this review of what proved to be of
positive assistance in the continuing management of central Covent
Garden. As times and priorities change it is vital that proposals and
advice evolve in order to remain relevant. I congratulate the Covent
Garden Area Trust on their successful efforts to balance updating this
guide where necessary with retaining its resolve to conserve and
enhance Covent Garden’s unique historic character.
The City Council will use this invaluable guide, as it did its predecessor,
as a material consideration when making planning decisions in Covent
Councillor Angela Hooper
Chairman of Planning and Development
City of Westminster
I am delighted to join Councillor Angela Hooper in a foreword to this
revised and updated conservation and management study.
Covent Garden remains as one of the most important conservation
areas in Greater London with a concentration of some of the best
known and most visited historic buildings in the heart of the Capital.
At its heart lies the Piazza, one of the most significant historic urban
spaces in England.
English Heritage congratulates all those involved with the review
process and the publication of this new guide, for it not only reflects
our own interest in and concerns for the effective conservation of this
important part of the Capital, but serves to provide a sound
framework for its effective management and enhancement.
Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman
English Heritage
Saved from particularly destructive redevelopment proposals advanced
in the sixties and early seventies by the comprehensive listing in 1973
of many of its historic buildings and by the subsequent adoption of a
sound, conservation-based Action Area Plan, Covent Garden has
thrived commercially and culturally over a period of more than 25
years. Such success has more than justified the wise adoption of a
conservation-led approach to planning, development and
management of the area.
Since its publication in 1995, the Environmental Study, has played a
valuable role in the effective management of the heart of the Covent
Garden Conservation Area, and has been of considerable benefit to all
those who share responsibilities for the area. The review of the original
study and its policies, and the publication by the Covent Garden Area
Trust of this revised and updated guide, are most timely given the
significant changes that have occurred over recent years and the
increasing challenges to the survival of the area’s character.
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Background and
Since its restoration and re-opening as a specialist shopping centre
over 20 years ago, Covent Garden Market has remained successful
and highly visited. It is one of the chief tourist attractions in London.
It remains the best example in England of the contribution which
renovated historic buildings can make to an area. At the same time
by the 1990s this success produced pressures on the buildings and
their immediate environment which began to show some signs of
leading to a decline in quality,
A detailed study of the Central Market, the Piazza and the streets
leading into it was therefore commissioned in 1994, by The Covent
Garden Area Trust, to produce a set of coherent guidelines and
recommendations relating to the façades of the buildings and the
spaces around and between them. The Trust was established in 1988
and given specific powers and duties relating to the principal historic
buildings which had formerly belonged to the Greater London
Council (GLC), including the Central Market. It is a charitable body
designed to protect and enhance the character of the area. The brief
asked for “appropriate conservation of façades, street improvements,
management of open spaces, sitting out areas, signage etc. In
particular we are concerned to achieve a set of design guidelines to
include furniture, signage, shop fronts, planters and street
1717-28. Covent Garden Piazza
looking north, showing the
origins of the informal market.
Engraving by Sutton Nicholls.
This revised edition has been produced in accordance with the City of
Westminster’s desire to see periodic reviews and monitoring of
changes in the area. It has been produced with co-operation and
financial support from English Heritage, Covent Garden Market
Limited Partnership (CGMLP), freehold owners of the Central Market
and the City of Westminster. It follows audits of the area in 2000 and
2002 and updates the original document’s recommendations and
ideas to reflect major changes, such as the completion of the Royal
Opera House redevelopment and implementation of many of the
elements of the original Study.
2003. A major problem for the
success of the area is congestion
due to high levels of visitor
numbers, as seen in James
This guide has been produced under the supervision of the Trust’s
Environment Committee which includes representatives of the Trust,
CGMML, English Heritage and Westminster City Council.
The audits revisited each of the 540 proposals put forward in the
original 1994 Study to identify those recommended actions that have
been implemented and those that remain outstanding. New issues
that have emerged in the intervening years and have an impact on the
Central Covent Garden Area, have also been highlighted and further
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The main approach route to the
Piazza is south along James
Street from Covent Garden
Underground Station.
Tables and chairs areas beyond
the arcade of Bedford Chambers
on the north side of the Piazza
were refused planning consent
and their removal has improved
views and movement around the
When busy, people will sit
anywhere, including on steps
and kerbs to enjoy the street
actions by the CGAT recommended where necessary. The audits
concluded that although well over half of the recommended actions
in the original document have been implemented and CGMLP is
currently investing in a major maintenance and enhancement
programme for the central market buildings which should bring
further improvements, failures and lack of action in many important
areas still need to be tackled.
The architectural quality of most of the buildings in the study area is
high or very high, and they are mostly well maintained and cared for. At
the same time there are still many things that need to be done to strip
away unsuitable accretions and show the area to its best advantage.
It is recognised that at times aesthetic and commercial priorities are in
conflict. Consequently the recommendations in this document aim to
strike a balance that will ensure the conservation and enhancement
of the physical environment, at the same time as allowing the many
traders, operators and users of Covent Garden to flourish, respond to
market changes and continue to contribute to the unique
The positive and friendly encouragement offered from all sides
throughout the project has made a major contribution to its success.
The continuing positive support and co-operation of the agencies
which funded the study, for instance, together with other statutory
agencies and landowners, are central if this document is to be
successful in its aims. Their partnership approach – as demonstrated
by the commissioning of this project – provides the best way of
managing important historic areas such as Covent Garden. Their
continuing willingness to seek and implement solutions to sometimes
contentious issues, has been - and will continue to be - of paramount
Local involvement has also been of key importance. A similar format
for public consultation was followed in undertaking the original study
and this revision. A number of meetings were held with key
stakeholders such as the Covent Garden Business Forum and there
was also a series of public events. A questionnaire was distributed in
and around the area and publicised in the local magazine. The
consultation was also promoted on the CGAT website.
In general the key issues that were raised in 2002 were very similar to
those that emerged in 1995 - over-crowding, inadequate public toilet
provision, litter and cleansing. A majority would like to see more traffic
free areas, historical information, litter bins, benches and greenery, but
were against more clutter. Continuing concerns since 1995 include the
type of shops and chain stores, commercial events in the square,
rubbish collections, antisocial behaviour, illegal traders and
entertainers and the need for more police.
Summary of Proposals
Background information and outline history of the area
Building façades improvements
Street improvements
Organisations Responsible
The proposals set out in this document will require further
consideration and the co-operation of many organisations. In places
abbreviated reference to the principal organisations is made.
Covent Garden Area Trust
Westminster City Council/Contractors and Consultants
Covent Garden Market Limited Partnership
Royal Opera House
English Heritage
The Covent Garden Area Trust wishes to ensure that this study and its
recommendations are given the highest possible formal status. It is
also proposed that there should be continuing formal reviews of
progress made with implementing the recommendations, carried out
by a committee (with representatives of relevant organisations) similar
to the one which steered this study.
The first edition of this document included a detailed survey of the
condition of the study area and coherent recommendations for use
by property owners, occupiers and their professional advisors and
contractors including shopfitters. The scope includes:
Management of the Central Market, Piazza and open spaces
Aspects of Universal Accessibility and the provisions of the
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)
This version updates these surveys and the status of
recommendations and gives more detailed revised information on
the issues of outdoor tables and chairs areas and the management
and improvement of the Piazza and
Central Market.
The major change since the
original study is the completion
of the Royal Opera House
development and the restoration
of colonnades to the north and
east of the Piazza.
The completion of the GLC 1981
restoration of the Central Market
created uncluttered civic spaces.
The summary on the following pages sets
out the current recommendations. Policies
(P1 – P11), Recommendations (R1 – R9)
and Design Ideas (D1 – D8) are
recommendations from the original study
that remain to be implemented. P1a, R1a,
D1a etc are new approaches or
modifications to the original
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Map from
City Council
Covent Garden
Action Plan
1. Piazza and
2. St Martins Lane
3. Long Acre
4. Dury Lane
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To encourage the use of traditional paving/furnishing for all approach streets.
New street trees excluded from highway improvements.
Reduction in street clutter with fewer benches, posts, columns, telephone boxes and signs.
Removal, as soon as possible, of existing outdoor umbrellas with no large/temporary covers and only small plain canvas types
for use in exceptional weather.
To adopt agreed elements of Covent Garden Restaurant Association Restaurant Furniture Design Guide for standard chairs and
modifications to corrals, tables, umbrellas, menu boards and finishes.
Ground level planters should not be used; first floor window box planting is to be encouraged.
Outdoor seating areas should be rationalised with standard furniture designs.
The study sets out a phased plan aiming towards containment of outdoor seating has been prepared for adoption so as to better
balance commercial activities against the historic setting of the Piazza.
Unlicensed street traders should be subject to enforcement action and their goods impounded.
Licensed outdoor trading, entertainment and seating areas should be marked only at the corners.
Induction/training for licensed street and market stall traders should be introduced.
P12a. Encourage the appreciation of the principles of universal accessibility and provisions of the DDA (1995) Act with relevant agencies.
P13a. In accordance with the integrated proposals illustrated in the Summary Piazza Strategy Plan (revised in this document) encourage
the City Council to create a continuous level paved route around the Piazza and approach streets. This should include adequate
cross routes, using traditional ramps and tabled crossings in dressed level granite.
DDA and Universal
and History
Implementation of former study proposals for reducing building clutter, taking action on unauthorised works and keeping a
presumption in favour of retention and restoration of authentic, traditional buildings and their shopfronts. (see page 59)
Central Market
Building and Facade
Provide a description of the special character of the central part of the Covent Garden Conservation Area today so as to assist in
maintaining the historic fabric and the specialist uses.
Piazza and
Open Spaces
Street Improvements
The mainentance of the established City of Westminster West End Team, focusing on management and enforcement functions.
Adoption of a single standard of cleansing and litter services for the whole Piazza by the City of Westminster and CGMLP.
Improvement of training cleansing operatives to project a positive corporate image to the public and use the staff for
improved security roles and maintenance reporting.
Replace existing rubbish bins with better designs and a siting policy, replacing big black bins from visible locations.
Encourage building and structures improvement by improved maintenance and repairs, and better temporary hoarding designs
during works.
Take action against illegal street entertainers and traders and designate a new licensed performance area in the east Piazza area.
Improve co-ordinated management of the entertainment by CGMLP in terms of quality and disturbance restrictions.
R10a. Encourage the production of revised historic walking guide leaflet to be locally available and provide information on guided walks.
Use of physical access barriers to enforce traffic restrictions, including automatic rising bollards in place of standard designs and
ineffectual signs.
Support WCC and CGMLP in their development of a coordinated improved lighting plan reviewing the street lamp columns on
approach streets.
R11a. In preference to making physical changes to important Listed Buildings (such as the Market) and historic spaces, aim, as far as
possible, to provide universal access to goods and services by encouraging a coordinated programme of training for staff and
tenants in the provision of special services and individual assistance,
DDA and Universal
Relocation of street parking away from Southampton Street, Henrietta Street, King Street and Russell Street.
and History
Central Market
Further vehicle access restrictions with perimeter signs to minimise yellow road paint signs and increase pedestrian priority.
Building and Facade
Piazza and
Open Spaces
Street Improvements
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DDA and Universal
and History
Encourage a better integrated design approach to the Royal Opera House outdoor video screenings.
Encourage improved stall designs with possible additional stalls with appropriate offers at key sites.
Encourage the integration of City Council and CGMLP CCTV security camera systems using unobtrusive designs.
Encourage the use of smaller building mounted CCTV camera equipment in accordance with City of Westminster guidelines.
Support initiatives to limit handbag theft by appropriate public information signs, staff training, shelf, hook and table net bags.
Support City Council action to enforce against breaches of stall trading site provisions and private forecourt/public highway spread
of clutter.
Encourage the installation of wall mounted specialist historical and archaeological interpretation information (in conjunction with
R10a) in standard form and at limited number of appropriate sites, possibly adopting the Seven Dials Ching Court model.
D12a. Encourage the joint production of a “Covent Garden Access Guide” for visitors based on the English Heritage model “Welcoming
visitors with disabilities to English Heritage properties” for the Central Market and key public buildings,defining at least the
following availability of provision or relevant policy : Disabled Parking; Access to Central Market Buildings, Jubilee Market Hall,
London Transport Museum, Theatre Museum, Royal Opera House; Visually impaired visitors; Hearing impaired visitors; Visitors with
learning difficulties; Toilets; Refreshments.
Central Market
Encourage building/feature lighting, replacing harsh floodlights with more gentle washes and projected pencil beams for special
D11a. Encourage feasibility study of scope for platform lift to complement stairs, to improve public accessibility to upper and basement
levels of the Central Market.
Building and Facade
Piazza and
Open Spaces
D10a. Support the DDA study currently being carried out by CGMLP and the implementation of policies or initiatives arising from it, such as
improved access to the market building.
Street Improvements
Existing Responsibilities
The City of Westminster
The City of Westminster, as the body with most of the duties and
powers to that ensure quality is maintained, is currently very well
organised to provide the proper response to most problems. The
Current “At your service…An A-Z Guide to Westminster City Council
Services, available from City Hall, is a model of its kind, with clear
identification of relevant services and “Hotline” telephone numbers,
for matters as diverse as Abandoned Cars to Pigeons and Street
Trading. Information on all mobility and access issues is also available
from the City Council, with guidance including various planning
leaflets, including “Shopfronts”, “Tables and Chairs on the Highway”
and “Design Matters in Westminster – Supplementary Planning
Guidance on the Creation of Good City Architecture”. Alternatively
visit : for details of
contacts, relevant supplementary planning guidance and general advice
on conservation areas, as well as Conservation Area Leaflet 15 which
deals specifically with Covent Garden.
Covent Garden Action Plan
Recognising that Covent Garden’s popularity means that it requires
careful and effective management, Westminster City Council is also
currently producing an Action Plan intended to address many of the
pressures and concerns facing Covent Garden and the conflicting
demands of residents, business and tourists. Many of the general
management and design issues addressed overlap with this
document. The Covent Garden Action Plan, which is divided into four
areas and covers traffic and transport, the street environment,
enforcement and management is being developed in partnership
with local community groups, businesses, landowners, the
Metropolitan Police Service and Camden Council. For further advice
on these issues contact : One Stop Services, City Hall, 64 Victoria
Street, London SW1E 6QP. Tel: 020 7641 6000, or local libraries.
English Heritage
English Heritage has special responsibilities and duties in respect of
the historic environment and is able to offer detailed advice on Listed
Building and Conservation Area matters, with a wide range of
information leaflets available from : Fortress House, 23 Savile Row,
London W1S 2ET. Tel: 020 7641 3000.
Covent Garden Area Trust
The Covent Garden Area Trust was established in 1988 and given
specific powers and duties relating to the principal historic buildings
which had formerly belonged to the Greater London Council (GLC),
including the Central Market. It is a charitable body designed to
protect and enhance the character of the area. CGAT can be
contacted at : 13 New Row, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4LF.
Tel:020 7497 9245. e-mail: [email protected]
Covent Garden Market Limited
The Central Market building is owned
by the CGMLP. The Market office is at :
Unit 41 at the west end of the Central
Avenue of the Market building,
WC2E 8RF. Tel: 020 7836 3089.
The CGMLP has recently produced two
design guides to help tenants manage
their presentation in sympathy with
the Grade II* Listed Market Building a guide for retailers setting out the
approach for shopfronts, paints, signs,
lighting and windows and a furniture
design guide for restauranters and
caterers. Elements of these guides are
referred to and supported in this
2003. View of the Apple
Market main entrance.
2003. James Street looking
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1560. The Agas bird’s eye map.
1686. Blome's St Pauls Parish.
1673. John Lacy's Map.
1746. Rocque.
Mid 17th Century. Aerial
View by Holler.
1810. Horwood.
1681. Ogilby and Morgan.
1873. Ordnance Survey.
20th Century. Covent Garden Layout
showing listed buildings shaded
Evolution of the Central Covent Garden Area
Brief History of
Covent Garden
The area around Covent Garden stretching down to The Strand was, in
mid Saxon times, a thriving trading settlement known from
contemporary charters as Lundenwic. The exact extent of the Saxon
settlement is calculated to be up to 60 hectares and this figure is
based on evidence from archaeological excavations, chance finds of
artefacts during development and research. The trading port was
established along the Thames foreshore below The Strand and
stretched back at least as far north as Short’s Gardens. By the late
Saxon Period, possibly as a result of the threats of Viking raids, the
settlement had moved back to the walled Roman city leaving
Lundenwic a derelict wasteland that was soon used for farming. Much
of the evidence for Saxon Lundenwic comes from “rescue” excavation
in which archaeological remains are recorded during redevelopment.
Important remains have been found at Jubilee Hall, Maiden Lane and
the Royal Opera House development site or from watching renewal of
sewer pipes. At Bruce House, Kemble Street, the developers worked
with English Heritage to ensure that remains were preserved beneath
the current development.
Covent Garden derives its name (“Convent Garden”) from the
presence there in the Middle Ages of a garden belonging to
Westminster Abbey. In the sixteenth century this land was acquired
by Henry VIII and granted to John Russell, 1st Earl of Bedford. The
Bedford interest was to determine the development of the site, which
remained in family possession until 1918. Bedford House and its
garden occupied the southern side of the site, the rest remaining as
mainly pasture until the succession of the 4th Earl in 1627. The
framework of the piazza which he built survives to dictate the modern
appearance of the site.
The piazza was laid out in 1631 by Inigo Jones. It owed much to his
knowledge of the formally designed piazzas of Italy, particularly the
market square at Leghorn, and to the Place des Vosges in Paris; Sir
John Summerson has described it as “…the first great contribution
to English urbanism…” Some of the original street names have
been retained : King Street and Henrietta Street were named in
honour of Charles I and his Queen Henrietta Maria; Catherine
Street, from the consort of Charles II. Bedford Street, Russell Street,
Southampton Street and Tavistock Street derive their names from the
titles of the Russell family.
1737 - 50. This view looking
west shows wooden perimeter
post and rails and a central
sundial pillar. (Courtesy of The
Seven DIals Monument
Charity and the Bridgeman Art
Library & Guildhall Library).
1746. Covent Garden Piazza
looking north showing the
north and east Piazza Arcades.
Inigo Jones’ Piazza depended on the Tuscan portico of St Paul’s
Church to close the vista from Russell Street along its main, east-west
axis. The portico was set between high brick walls with pedimented
gateways giving access on to the churchyard, terminating in a pair of
pavilion like houses with hipped roofs.
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1831. The terrace of the
Bedford Conservatories at
the east end of the market
Along the north and south sides were uniform arcades of portico
houses, their continuity broken only by the street entering centrally in
each side, but the southern boundary comprised of the garden wall
of Bedford House until houses were constructed there on its
demolition in 1706.
1900s. St Paul’s Church
amid the bustle of the fruit
and flower market traders.
The streets opening off the piazza never possessed similar coherent
architecture and were entirely rebuilt at various dates in the course of
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, retaining most of the
historic building lines.
The Tuscan portico of St Paul’s Church forms the principal focus on
the west side of the piazza. Although many famous people were
interred within the church and churchyard their monuments were
destroyed in a fire which wrecked its interior in 1795, and by
subsequent development around the site. However, the historic
significance of the burials at St Paul’s can still be appreciated from
church records. St Paul’s was restored by Thomas Hardwick shortly
after the fire at the expense of the parishioners.
The portico houses that bounded the piazza on its north and east
sides were raised on continuous arcades creating a passageway at
ground level. The central area was gravelled, and marked off with
timber fencing rails. The north and east sides came to be known as
the Great Piazza and the Little Piazza respectively, and the houses
were quickly occupied by court society. None survive today, although
Bedford Chambers is an 1878 replacement, attempting to recreate the
old façade. In 1700 Bedford House was demolished and new houses
were built on the site of its garden along the piazza’s southern
boundary. During this period market stalls previously situated against
its garden wall gravitated towards the centre of the piazza.
The stalls of market traders hawking fruit and vegetables gradually
became an established feature of the square, and the Earl of Bedford,
recognising the potential of a market sited between the City and
Westminster, obtained the right to hold a market there by Letters
Patent from Charles II in 1670. Itinerant shows were held in the
piazza, and the central square became a recreation ground for
apprentices and local children.
In the eighteenth century as the aristocracy moved west to more
fashionable areas, Covent Garden developed into a more bohemian
location for the artists, journalists and writers who frequented its many
coffee houses and taverns. The painters John Zoffany and Richard
Wilson lived in the Piazza and Tavistock Row (now demolished)
respectively, while numerous references to the district appear in the
pages of Otway, Killigrew, Shadwell, Congreve and Fielding.
The district retained its character of fashionable bohemianism for
nearly two centuries. Fielding, Goldsmith and Hogarth were members
of a gaming club which met in the parlour of the ‘Bedford’.
The playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan held court with his associates
at the Piazza Hotel and Coffee House at 10-11, Great Piazza
(demolished 1858) while at No 8 lived Thomas Killigrew, the first
holder of the Patent of the Theatre Royal, and later, the antiquary
James West. After episodes of use as a hotel and as the home of the
National Sporting Club, the premises were taken over by a market
trader; the building has since been restored. Many well-known actors
also lived and worked in Covent Garden, giving St Paul’s its soubriquet
of ‘the actors’ church.’ David Garrick’s house in Southampton Street
survives, Nell Gwyn was born in Bow Street, and actors are
commemorated by the local street names of Betterton, Macklin,
Garrick, Kemble and Kean.
The Covent Garden Theatre, now the Royal Opera House, opened in
1733, built by John Rich with the aid of public subscription. In 1786
Handel conducted his ‘Messiah’ there. In 1808 this building was
gutted by fire, to be reconstructed by Sir Thomas Smirke within one
year. Smirke’s building was also destroyed by fire. in 1856, to be
replaced by E.M. Barry’s Italian Opera House on the same site.
space available for trading. At the same time, the raffish character of
the district diminished as the market trading population continued to
expand into the surrounding streets, displacing the earlier residents.
During this period the original form of Inigo Jones’ plan was overlaid
under piecemeal development and rebuilding.
In the nineteenth century, in response to the rapid growth of
commercial demand, the Sixth Duke of Bedford obtained a private Act
of Parliament for the reconstruction of the flower market. In 1828-30
the old stalls and sheds were cleared, and Charles Fowler’s neoclassical structure was erected in their place, with space to
accommodate wholesaling activities. In 1872 the building was roofed
over at the instigation of the Ninth Duke, to improve and enlarge the
The central Piazza area and its environs were redeveloped as a mixture
of speciality shops, restaurants and cafés, commercial premises and
market stalls, catering mainly for tourists. Inigo Jones’ original plan
for the Piazza, and the scale of his buildings still prevails, although the
focus of the site is now Fowler’s Central Market Building, restored
from 1975-80 to accommodate a pub, retail shops and restaurants.
The Piazza
An Act passed in 1966 provided for the removal of the fruit and
vegetable market at Covent Garden to new premises at Nine Elms,
Vauxhall, eight years later. The land in the freehold ownership of the
Covent Garden Market Authority was acquired by the Greater London
Council and the Department of the Environment, following a
successful popular campaign to preserve the area and adapt existing
buildings in place of comprehensive redevelopment. As a result of
this the GLC set up a Special Covent Garden team which
masterminded the piecemeal, phased regeneration of the
surrounding area in cooperation with local interest groups.
Early 1800s. The new market
building erected by the
Bedford Estate in 1830 to
bring about a more orderly
and regulated market.
2003. The same view from
the end of King Street today
highlights the continuity of
the architecture and spaces,
but the increase in modern
street clutter.
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1700s view. The arcades
beneath the Piazza houses,
in the north eastern corner
of the square were
intended to be uncluttered
and elegant.
1800s. The Floral Hall and
Covent Garden Theatre,
Bow Street elevation. The
Royal Opera House
redevelopment project has
successfully recreated the
form of this street
The work was done by the GLC Architects Department, the principal
job architects being Norman Harrison, Tim Bidwell and Daryl Fowler.
The work is a model of ‘scholarly’ restoration and adaptation. In
order to meet the demands of fire regulations the southern glazed
hall was excavated at basement level to create a sunken floor of
shops. New features include the large lanterns with pineapples on
top, a neat reference to the old use of the building.
After 25 years in the planning the Royal Opera House restoration and
improvement project was finally granted consent in 1999, following
significant local controversy concerning the commercial content,
funding and the issue of demolition of properties on the north side
of Russell Street. The development has recreated the original north
piazza building lines and restored a colonnaded walk visually linking
with the arcade of Bedford Chambers. The impact of restored or new
street facades on the south east side of James Street, the piazza,
Russell Street and Bow Street, together with continuing
improvements in east Floral Street have had a positive effect on the
townscape and levels of activity in the area.
A definition of the special character of the central part of the Covent
Garden Conservation Area today can be derived from the former
GLC’s : “Covent Garden Action Area Plan (Sub Area Three) general
character, size and scale” outline and the City of Westminster’s
Conservation Area Leaflet 15 : “Key Features and Historical
Background” and the “Unitary Development Plan Westminster’s
Central Area Covent Garden/Strand states” :
“…The Covent Garden Piazza, a set piece of town planning built
during the 1630s to the designs of Inigo Jones, was the first Square
or Piazza based on the Italian model to be built in England. It was a
remarkable innovation to seventeenth century Londoners and set the
style for similar layouts throughout the then fashionable areas of
London…The fabric dates from the 18th and 19th century but the
general air is one of a Victorian commercial area…At the heart of the
Conservation Area is the Piazza, dominated by the Central market
Building and St. Paul’s Church. Around the Piazza the 17th century
and 18th century street pattern survives and important buildings from
that period can be found in King Street, Henrietta Street (to the west)
and Southampton street (to the south). The other streets leading to
the Piazza, James Street (to the north) and Russell Street (to the east)
provide important views of the Piazza. St. Paul’s Churchyard provides
a secluded green oasis in the midst of this densely developed
area…Covent Garden is home to the Royal Opera House and has
been a major cultural centre for a considerable time, with theatres the
most notable arts and cultural use. The area has a long-standing and
increasing residential population. Since the fruit and vegetable
market vacated the area in 1974, the significance of the area as an
entertainment area has become even more marked with the
introduction of new shops, cafes, restaurants, wine bars and
As a result tourists have increasingly visited the area. The area has
become more attractive to media related businesses…The whole area
is a popular shopping and tourist destination comprising a mixture of
retail, entertainment, restaurant, office and residential uses…”
1920s. Flower sellers in front
of St Paul’s Church.
The Town Cryer is a feature of
the annual Covent Garden
Rent Ceremony (the Trustees
parade around the Piazza
behind a jazz band to pay the
“peppercorn” rent of one red
apple and a posy of flowers
for each headlease).
High quality events in the
Piazza such as the recent
Lancia car collectors display
can be both a visitor
attraction and an appropriate
use. The temporary nature of
such events should not mean
that accessories such as
banners and signs are poorly
designed and laid out.
For the purposes of any future planning appeals the following brief
statement of today’s character is recommended :
“…The character of Central Covent Garden is defined by the Listed
fabric and spaces which regenerated a popular mix of uses in the five
historic approach streets leading into the pedestrianised Piazza, where
speciality retail and cultural uses are centred on the Listed Victorian
Market Buildings, in the middle of England’s innovative 17th century
square designed in the Italian style…”
Survival of the 17th Century lay-out and historic buildings of various
dates in the Piazza and the five streets leading into it, combined with
the presence of a wide variety of retail and cultural uses within the
Central Market Buildings and around the area, have created one of the
most successful and visited locations in London.
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A New Piazza Plan
The uncluttered simplicity of the Piazza after the GLC’s restoration of
the Central Market Buildings is becoming a distant memory recorded
in old photographs. The 1994 Study and the audits leading to this
revised document highlighted aspects of congestion and street
clutter, associated with the Piazza’s sustained popularity as a visitor
attraction. Many of the earlier recommendations sought to help
better manage these levels of intensity.
The core issue that determines the layout and availability of space in
the Piazza is the identification of sites for restaurant tables and chairs.
To present the agreed recommendations this document includes
three illustrations of the Piazza as follows :
The successful clutter reduction recommendations from the original
Study included:
Containment of the number and location of tables and chairs areas
with standardisation of designs for reduction of visual impact. Two
table and chairs areas adjacent to the Bedford Chambers arcade
identified for removal were successfully refused planning consent.
Improved quality tables and chairs designs were identified and
adopted in most areas.
Improved management and minimisation of clutter – the
majority related to tables and chairs and street furnishings.
Effective management of the spaces – operation of tables and
chairs areas and other activities that take place in the spaces.
Plan A showing tables and chairs areas, current during the Study
Plan B representing achievable modifications for a balance of
improvements, based on recent overall number of covers.
Plan C outlining an ideal, longer term objective aimed at
reducing the impact and quantity of existing tables and chairs
1981. Soon after restoration
work by the GLC, the area
was less crowded and
2003. View of tables and
chairs areas on the north
side of the Piazza. The Trust
is pleased that the Piazza
restaurants took up our
proposals for a suitable
‘family’ of tables and chairs
and as can be seen in the
above. This has created a
more orderly and visually
attractive scene, which must
be considered better for
business. The large
umbrellas and in particular
the business logos should
however be removed.
Recommendations that have not been implemented are still badly
needed. The main remaining Piazza issues identified by the City of
Westminster and English Heritage are :
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Plan A: Current Seating Areas
Plan B: Current Possible Improvements
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Plan C: Future Possibilities
Seating Areas
BT Box
Existing Granite
Level Setts
Uneven Setts
Square Ramp
York Stone
Dark Grey
Post and Rail
Management Overview
A number of current and planned management initiatives for the
Covent Garden Area will help in meeting some of the original aims of
the 1994 CGAT Study and address emerging issues such as the impact
of cycle rickshaws:
CCTV control room at the Trocedero Centre and plans for City
Guardian or Heritage Wardens to assistance with street
inspection, management and enforcement.
Westminster City Council Covent Garden Action Plan (expected
to be adopted in 2004).
Use Class Order (Class A3) Proposed Changes
City of Westminster
Replacement Unitary Development Plan (UDP) A3 Use class
policies and application in the proposed new West End Stress
Area covering the whole of Central Covent Garden (at time of
writing subject of Public Inquiry);
Traffic and environmental consultant study of Covent Garden
(with London Borough of Camden); public toilet initiatives
including temporary and permanent street urinals on the fringe
of the central Covent Garden area;
Existing City of Westminster Byelaws for good rule and Government
(No.2), confirmed by the Secretary of State for operation on 8
November 2001 cover :
Noise in streets and other public places.
Urinating, etc.
Penalty fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.
Revocation of the relevant Byelaws dated 1 January 1969.
43 King Street undergoing
Tables and chairs areas need
guidance and management
to reduce the impact of
accessories including space
heaters, ‘A’ boards, bollards,
rope barriers and menu cards.
Large umbrellas have also
recently been added to this
Westminster Crime and Disorder Reduction Strategy 2002-05;
West End Public Spaces Study and West End Entertainment Study
are informing policy and project implementation ideas piloted in
Leicester Square for wider adoption. This includes an integrated
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Visible security is essential in
the area by day and night.
The main listed buildings and
spaces need detailed
guidance on maintenance,
enhancement and repair. This
view is only seen in early
mornings. Action for better
management of street clutter
is described in later sections
of this report.
CGMLP and consultant team : Implementation of agreed
maintenance and improvement programme; adoption and review of
a tenant’s Draft Design Guide, based on Conservation and
Masterplan; adoption of and review of a tenants’ Design Guide for
the Central Market; adoption and review of Draft Restaurant Design
Guide for outdoor tables and chairs areas; preparation of Piazza
Events Calendar.
Covent Garden Piazza Committee : Coordination of security,
management and enforcement (including existing Byelaws) concerns
with regular meetings.
Covent Garden Restaurant Association : Assistance with preparation
of Draft Restaurant Design Guide.
Policing and Community Safety Officers (CSO scheme launched
September 2002) : Covent Garden Community Policing Team (based
at Charing Cross Police Station) now supported by an increase in
uniformed CSOs patrolling the West End.
London Association of Rickshaw Drivers : In association with the
Police, the 3 licensed cycle rickshaw operators at the time of writing
have informal arrangements, under review and monitoring, not to
obstruct congested areas such as the top end of James Street by the
underground entrance and to ensure that noise and disturbance is
minimised in all operations.
Covent Garden Action Plan
The Covent Garden Action Plan is being developed by Westminster
City Council in partnership with local community groups, businesses,
landowners, the Metropolitan Police Service and Camden Council
(Covent Garden spans the boundary with Camden). Intended to
address many of the pressures and concerns facing Covent Garden
and the at times conflicting demands of residents, businesses and
tourists, it focuses on four areas - the piazza and surrounding area; St
Martin’s Lane and surrounding streets; Long Acre and the streets off
it; and the area around Drury Lane. The draft action plan containing
69 proposed specific actions for issues including traffic, transport and
access; the street environment; enforcement of regimes, laws and
policies; and co-ordinated management, is currently being consulted
on and is expected to be adopted in spring 2004.
Tenants’ and Owners’ Handbook
CGMLP, commissioned a Conservation and Masterplan for the Market
Building and Piazza in 1999 by architects Lyons Sleeman and Hoare,
identifying maintenance, management and improvement proposals.
Although many of the improvement proposals have been reduced in
scope and form, the document has formed the basis of a number of
initiatives including shop and furniture design guides for tenants,
elements of which are referred to and supported in this document.
Street performance and entertainment formed an important element
of the GLC’s original plan for the market area and formal
arrangements continue to manage this aspect of activities in and
around the Piazza. However, responsibilities are divided so that the
core area is the responsibility of the freeholders and the edges of the
Piazza and for example, James Street, the responsibility of the City
Council. The latter’s Covent Garden Action Plan proposed a more
joined up approach and greater enforcement against illegal street
activities. The latter are the cause of constant complaints from a wide
variety of stakeholders.
another example of the sort of event which both suits the Piazza and
is welcomed by traders across the board.
Modern attractions can be
intrusive and require special
care in siting and
Traditional style temporary
attractions can complement
the piazza area.
Events should promote the unique offer which is available in and
around the Central Market and meld in with the historic setting.
It is essential that the quality, siting, layout and management of such
approved temporary events should achieve a high standard in the
historic streetscene, with proper consideration of public safety and
accessibility. The following new principles should be adopted in
scrutinising temporary events :
Since the sale of the ex GLC holdings there has been a greater
emphasis on commercial events which provide an income stream.
However, these often conflict with both the historic environment and
the up-market nature of the retail offer within the Central Market
itself. Whilst they may bring in large crowds, it is unlikely that a high
percentage of visitors increases the overall spend either for the retail or
cafe elements in and around the Piazza. We feel that a thought out 5
year programme of suitable events of an up-market nature is more
likely to bring in the sort of clientele who will make use of what is on
offer in the Piazza. ‘Lancia in the Piazza’ in September 2003 brought in
large crowds with many families and interestingly also brought about
one of the highest Sunday spends recorded. The ‘Food Lovers Fair’ is
Minimise intrusive visual and physical clutter.
Consider crowd management and affected patterns of
movement and congestion.
Consider impact of events on the amenity of the community and
the historic character of the Conservation Area.
Require high quality design of any essential temporary
accessories and signage.
Whether events attract visitors who will spend more per visit.
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The completeion of the Royal
Opera House also gave rise to
substantial funding for streets
and spaces around the
perimeter of the new and
restored buildings. Funds for
improvements on this scale are
unlikely to arrise again.
The major existing funding
mechanism for maintaining and
enhancing historic buildings will
continue to be from profitable
commerce. Private building
owners recognise they need to
invest in the area to ensure
continued customer loyalty.
The capital cost of implementing the proposals identified in the
original 1994 Study was estimated at £5m of which £350,000 was
anticipated as a result of City Council planning gain negotiation or
planned works. James Street and Russell Street have been improved
within these budget mechanisms and the scope of the public and
private works recommended has diminished as building and street
improvements have taken place. A realistic 5 year allocation would
help restore the focus on this part of the West End. Capital allocation
has been made for improvements in the Leicester Square area with
partnership funding from the private sector and other sources. This
could also form the model for Covent Garden.
The most important funding discipline is to ensure that projects that
have funds do not, whether through ignorance or through
disregarding the recommendations, ignore or unreasonably modify
agreed proposals in this document. Planned spending on CCTV,
traffic management studies, public toilets, litter and cleansing
initiatives are all public sector examples where this might happen.
Shopfront works, repainting and Central Market improvements
represent examples of private sector planned expenditure that need
to be properly directed in accordance with the recommendations in
this document and the CGMLP manual.
Improvement Proposals
Many of the original 1994 Study improvement ideas have been
implemented for buildings, streets and spaces in the area and this
document recommends sustained effort to complete the remainder
and adds a number of new ideas and refinements in the following
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
An important change since the 1994 Study was published has been
the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which is
designed to ensure that disabled people can enjoy the same access to
goods and services as everyone else. The Act has been implemented
in three stages. The final stage comes into force in October 2004 and
covers physical access to all premises offering goods and services,
whether paid for or free of charge and as such, is of particular
relevance to this guide.
Disability is defined as : “a physical or mental impairment which has a
substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry
out normal day-to-day activities” and covers people with sight,
hearing, physical and mobility impairments, as well as mental ill
health and learning disabilities.
Physical features are defined as “anything on the premises arising
from a building’s design or construction or approach to, exit from or
access to such a building, fixtures, fittings, furnishings, equipment or
materials and any other physical element or quality of land in the
premises whether temporary or permanent.”
All service providers are required to make “reasonable adjustments”
to their premises and the way they provide services to ensure
universal accessibility. The Disability Rights Commission can provide
advice on the requirements of the DDA and how individual tenants
and traders should meet them :
DRC Helpline, FREEPOST, MID021164,
Stratford Upon Avon, CV37 9BR,
tel: 08457 622633, textphone: 08457 622644, fax: 08457 778878,
email: [email protected],
It is the recommendation of this guide that in preference to making
physical changes to important Listed Buildings (such as the Market)
and historic spaces, DDA approved options are developed. These
could include universal access to goods and services by encouraging a
coordinated programme of training for staff and tenants in the
provision of special services and individual assistance. For example
some help can be offered beyond physical level changes of shop
entrances. CGMLP are currently carrying out an access survey and
developing a strategy to ensure the Market Buildings meet the
requirements of the DDA.
Widening the footway
outside the Jubilee Market
Hall would help provide a
clear, level route linking
Henrietta and Russell Streets
(south footway) with the
whole perimeter of the
Piazza. This would
significantly improve
universal accessibility.
This view shows the City of
Westminster’s accessible
public toilet provision for the
central Covent Garden area.
The current location adjecent
the Transport Museum only
has a level surface approach
and ramp from the alley way
linking Tavistock Street with
the south side of the Piazza.
Improving the perimeter
route around the Piazza,
including level surface
materials is therfore
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1932. No 43 King Street
during conversion works for
George Monro.
1938. A typical trader in a
street adjoining the market Goldsmids at No 10 Henrietta
1968. 26 King Street was the
former auctioneers Debenham
Storr at the corner of King and
Garrick Streets.
Building Façades
The following pages make detailed proposals for the treatment and
improvement of each group of buildings in this part of the
Conservation Area, based on a careful analysis of the historic fabric
and the evolution of the area (reviewed in 2000 and 2002 from
survey work originally carried out in 1994). The traditional elements
that give vertical and horizontal proportion to individual buildings
and grouped façades, the materials, forms and colours of Covent
Garden’s historic streets can all easily be spoiled by even minor
insensitive alterations.
This section is intended to give guidance to freeholders and
occupants as well as their advisors, in particular shopfitting
contractors, decorators etc., on ways of improving their buildings so
as to enhance their historic character and that of the Conservation
Area as a whole. Attention is drawn to features which are typical of
Covent Garden and which might form specific models for restoration
work to other buildings in the Conservation Area. Proposals for
action either to buildings or streets and spaces adjoining are
generally set in italics with notes on the successful implementation
of the original 1994-7 recommendations.
Owners and occupiers are urged to commission expert, professional
services for accurate survey and design information before
implementing detailed improvements. The City of Westminster and
English Heritage have planning and Conservation specialists who
should also be consulted on all historic buildings matters. All
necessary formal consents and approvals must be obtained prior to
any works on site.
Covent Garden is probably the best example in England of economic
regeneration through active conservation of the built heritage,hence
the following pages which give detailed conservation guidance.
Key Notes:
Each Street facade has the original building date (e.g. b1705) and the
rebuilding date (r. 1862) as appropriate. Listing grades are generally
set below these dates. Property postal address numbers or building
names are used from the time of audit and changes have occured that
may be reflected in future revisions.
King Street – South Side
This, the principal street in the 4th Earl of Bedford’s original
development, was named in honour of the monarch who had
granted him the licence to build. Nothing now survives from its first
building in 1633-7; however, most of the original sites retain their
integrity, presenting a complementary mixture of 18th and 19th century
builds and scale. By the 1970s, when the vegetable market withdrew
from Covent Garden, many of the buildings in the Piazza end of the
street had become severely dilapidated; today, with James Street, King
Street appears the most prosperous of the five streets approaching
the Piazza and also the most congested as they are routes to Covent
Garden and Leicester Square stations respectively.
1-4 King Street
This building is unbalanced by the added mansard roof and fire
escape which upsets the symmetry of the arrangement with No.34
Henrietta Street on the other side of St Paul’s Church. The iron fireescape is an eyesore, which together with the mansard roof could
surely be better handled in any future restoration. The opportunity to
restore the original Clutton design has not been taken and the new
shop fronts are modern designs, but good of their kind, although
painted, smaller fascia lettering would be better than the existing
brash yellow.
Grade II
Grade II
Grade II
5 King Street: Muffinski’s with outside tables and chairs
The joinery of the shop front could be improved by prolonging the
two mullions upwards above the transom to the top of the window.
The joinery should be painted a strong traditional colour (see chart).
The front door with its plethora of little panels should be replaced.
A painted four panelled door with a glazed rectangular fanlight is the
recommended treatment here. The 1994 larger fascia sign
improvement has been implemented although the modern lettering
typeface and neon lighting generally, box hanging signs and outside
‘A’ board are all inappropriate.
6 King Street: The Essex Serpent
The dark painting of the pub front, the verre-eglomise fascia sign and
the hanging sign are all excellent. The window boxes and hanging
baskets provide a model example of good lavish planting. The ‘A’
board should be removed.
7 King Street: Reflexions
The minimalist glazed shop front is a lost opportunity. There is scope
here for the installation of a full-scale Victorian shopfront, with all the
joinery painted a strong cheerful red.
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King Street - South Side
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King Street - South Side
8 King Street: Qdos Entertainment
The main fascia has been partially restored as recommended in 1994
with cream entablature and pilasters, a better sign and some dark blue
painted joinery improvements including first floor planters. The
glazing should be carried up to the underside of the entablature.
8 King Street: Qdos. Note the
attractive hanging sign bracket
for St Paul’s Church.
5 King Street: Muffinski’s with
outside tables and chairs.
6 King Street: The Essex Serpent
- a good example of first floor
7 King Street: Reflexions. This
shop front highlights the
negative impact of full height
glazing and multiple colours.
9 King Street: M. J. Bradleys/Maxwell’s Restaurant with outside
tables and chairs
The 1994 aim of a more co-ordinated treatment for the whole of this
ground floor which is a single architectural unit, has resulted in an all
dark brown varnished timber treatment. The fascia sign modern type
face and ‘A’ board are inappropriate.
10-11 King Street: Vacant formerly Dorling Kindersley Books
The dirty, redundant shopfront with gold lettered design with a wellchosen typeface symmetrically related to the fascia, remains a model
for future occupants. The 1994 recommendation of a rich, dark colour
for joinery in place of white should be adopted when restored.
12-13 King Street : Cinton Cards
The 1990s cleaning of the upper part revealed the green and white
faience panels above the first floor windows. The two open-book DK
signs (for Dorling Kindersely Books) on the glass of the ground floor
window were a good, distinctive and original idea and remain a model
for future occupants upon restoration.
14 King Street: Tzar
This frontage has been well restored. The 1994 recommended colours
coordination has been improved but the shopfront would be
improved with a painted fascia sign.
15 King Street: Tzar
The stock brick of the upper parts of this Georgian frontage would
benefit from soot washing. The shop front is let down by the weak
cornice on top of the shop front and its incorrect classical moulding
and overlarge fascia lettering. A great improvement could be achieved
here by replacing the present moulding with a fully scaled Ionic
16 King Street: HSBC
The restored ground floor frontage of this prominent corner with
Bedford Street is disappointingly weak. The fascia could be improved
by adding a classical, moulded cornice. The ground floor window
joinery should be painted, not varnished. Signage and external lights
are still too dominant and planters at first floor level would be
Grade II
Grade II
Grade II
King Street – North West Side
A number of the houses built in King Street in the eighteenth century
were designed by leading architects – the most significant structure in
the street is No.43, the baroque town house designed by Thomas
Archer in 1716 for the Earl of Orford, which has a reasonably intact
façade but is currently vacant pending further restoration. (See North
Side of Piazza sheet for further details of No.43.) In 1859-61 the
construction of Garrick Street opened a communication with
Cranborne Street and the West End.
26 King Street : Fraser Williams
Currently painted pale blue and white, the stucco of this façade
would look better if painted stone colour or traditional cream. The
modern aluminium hanging sign is a brave effort but the small scale
and lack of formal geometry negates the intended effect. A bolder
statement would still be preferable.
27-28 King Street: Moss Bros
This graphically demonstrates how the impact of a listed building can
be affected by inappropriate painting. The cream stucco of the upper
elevation is fine but nearly every other detail could be improved. The
great stucco cartouche with the arms of the former Westminster Fire
Office is the most striking piece of heraldic display in Covent Garden,
greater even than the Duke of Bedford’s arms on the Market Building.
Its impact is spoilt as a result of the incorrect colouring. The pale bleu
celeste of the background is only used in heraldry by the RAF and the
Westminster Portcullis should be gilded not painted black. The
College of Arms could advise on the correct colours, and the current
solecism should be put right when the building is next re-painted. The
recent cream paint of the shop front and fairground picking out of the
iron balcony balustrade also undermines the impact of a fine piece of
architectural design, as can be seen by checking the present
appearance against the photographs taken ten years ago. The whole
architectural framework, including the balcony, should be painted the
same strong colour (see Chart).
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King Street - North West Side
Grade II
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King Street - North West Side
27-28 King Street : Moss
Bros. Over use of ‘sale’
banners can undermine the
character of an historic
31-32 King Street :
Hackett. This restored
painted shop front is a
model of good practice.
33-34 King Street :
Maggiores is a good
example of a traditional
restaurant blind.
29-30 King Street – No. 29 “Code” No. 30: Beale and Company
The painting of the stucco in stone and white is appropriate. The
architectural frontage of the ground floor would look better if it were
all picked out in stronger colours rather than the blue pilasters
silhouetted against a white ground. Logically, if it is devised to create a
two-tone effect, the background should be darker than the
architectural element: the Corinthian pilasters and entablature. The
navy blue is in itself a good colour choice. The arrangement of glazing
bars in the ground floor, former shop windows is incorrect. The small
panes create a Georgian effect and clash with the placing of the
dividing elements in the arched tympana at the top. If these windows
were to be redesigned they should have moulded mullions lining up
with those above the transom and no other horizontal members. The
front door would also be better painted to match the other joinery,
rather than varnished. The pretty iron balconies at first floor level were
intended for flower pots and these could be reinstated if so wished.
31-32 King Street: Hackett
This well-restored frontage with dark blue shopfront has been
improved in accordance with the 1994 recommendations for painted
gold lettering on sub-fascia and hanging sign. First floor balcony
planters would be a further improvement.
33 King Street: Maggiores
The shop front has been well-restored with a cream entablature and
red canvas canopy. A painted rather than varnished shopfront would
be better and the recent gold-lettered sign is too large for the fascia
and the frontage is somewhat over planted with planting draped over
railings when first floor planting would be a better option.
34 King Street: Navajo Joe
This Bar and Grill has an uncoordinated approach to the traditional
detailing in colours, signage and additions such as the boxed menu
displays. The varnished door and joinery for the shop front could be
painted in strong colours (see Chart) and crude aluminium plate and
neon signage on the entablature and hanging sign should be
replaced with traditional painted signage. The iron guards in front of
the first floor windows were intended for flower pots or boxes, and
these could be reinstated.
r 1800
Grade II
C19th mid C18th
Grade II
Grade II* Grade II
King Street – North East Side
The best houses in King Street were sited on the northern side of the
street, where some 18th century fabric survives. In the 18th century
King Street lost its titled residents, but retained the character of a
good-class residential street, with some shop fronts on the southern
side. The design of No.37, and attractive Palladian house built in
1773-4, is probably by James Paine the elder.
35 King Street
The original arcaded ground floor restoration work was cleverly done
at the time, but the upper part of the building which had had all its
original architectural detail shaved off was recently, and alas, very
poorly, restored. Originally there were quoins, string courses,
pediments to the first floor windows and moulded architraves at
second and third floor as well as a bold crowning cornice and
balustraded parapet. These features are recorded in photographs
taken in 1938. A full-scale, accurate and scholarly restoration should
be undertaken here. The stucco is painted traditional cream. The
gold painted railing tops are better painted black. The projecting first
floor balconies were intended for flower pots or planters and it
would be good to reinstate these.
36-37 King Street
The domestic appearance of the ground floor of these Georgian
houses has been well restored although with window boxes and the
white shop front joinery and turquoise front door to 37 could be
painted in a stronger colour (see Chart). The remaining traditional
railings should be the model for coordinating the frontage and side
step entrance railings.
38 King Street: Africa Centre
This Georgian house has been well restored at upper levels although
the plywood subframe to the shopfront and duplicated lettering lets it
down and repainting and maintenance is still needed. Painted timber
joinery of a more solid form would be the best treatment here. The ‘A’
board is inappropriate.
39 King Street : Palms Restaurant
The 1994 recommendation of removing the neon sign and first floor
planting are positive features overpowered by the other frontage
planting but the shopfront recommendations have not been adopted.
The original architectural framework with flanking pilasters survives
and should be used as the basis for restoring a correctly detailed
Victorian shop front with full-height glazing, stallriser and painted and
moulded joinery. External signage including the ‘A’ board is
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
King Street - North East Side
caring for covent garden
King Street - North East Side
40 King Street: Sock Shop
This shopfront has been restored in accordance with the 1994
recommendations with navy blue joinery. The side door should also
be navy instead of black. A hanging sign, first floor planting and
removal of the ‘A’ board would all help complete the improvements.
40 King Street : The Covent
Garden General Store in
1997 before improvements.
40 King Street : Sock Shop
after improvements.
42 King Street : Sheila’s in
1997 before improvements.
42 King Street : HMV after
42 King Street: HMV “Monro House”
The upper part has been well cleaned. Clutton’s bold ground floor
treatment with the rusticated arch has survived. This shopfront has
been restored in accordance with the 1994 recommendations
although with corporate style logos and fittings in navy blue
paintwork matching No. 40. The colour and hanging box sign are
unfortunate in colour and style. The side doors would be better in
navy blue and the ‘lollipop and ‘A’ board signs should be removed.
Henrietta Street – South Side
This street, named in honour of Charles I’s queen in 1637, dates
entirely from the 18th and 19th centuries; nothing remains of its 17th
century buildings. Henrietta Street was laid out between 1631-4, and
originally the frontages along its south side were aligned with the
Piazza front of Bedford House garden, the easternmost house lying
against the garden wall. The footway no longer aligns with the Jubilee
Market Hall footway frontage which should be widened to reinstate
this relationship along the southern side of the piazza. After the
demolition of Bedford House three new houses were built on this
corner. Many of the street’s houses were rebuilt during the first half of
the 18th century, and some of their sites amalgamated on rebuilding a
century later. (See South Side of Piazza sheet for details
2-4 Henrietta Street).
5-6 Henrietta Street: Henry’s Restaurant
The stucco is well painted in cream and white with a well presented
shopfront although coordination of the cream colours is desirable
when repainted. The window, fascia and menu boards with ‘Henry’s’
branding are somewhat large. Original frontage railings have been
removed and could be restored to balance the elevation around the
door of No. 6.
7-8 Henrietta Street: Vacant
These handsome façades show indications that refurbishment for
office occupiers is planned. When maintained and repainted the
railings should be repainted in black without gold tops.
9 Henrietta Street: Rohan
This well designed shop front has bee refurbished and has been
repainted in a rich dark colour from the recommended chart.
10 Henrietta Street: Rohan
The black painted shop front is handsome but the projecting box sign
and the small box sign in the centre of the entablature could be
improved. A full-width properly lettered fascia sign would be more
appropriate for the entablature here. The stucco of the upper part of
the façade is well-painted in stone and white. Doorway railings should
be replaced with traditional designs.
11 Henrietta Street: Walkabout Inn
The well designed traditional features of the ground floor frontage
have been spoilt by the over-large yellow and orange lettering, red and
green framing and light fittings on the crude corrugated hanging sign.
A single rich dark colourscheme and traditional lettering would be
more appropriate. The outside clutter of overseas free newspaper
boxes would be better inside the bar.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
Henrietta Street - South Side
Grade II
caring for covent garden
Henrietta Street - South Side
12-13 Henrietta Street: Undergoing development at time of
This previously well-restored and well-maintained traditional building
is being redeveloped for residential, office and ground floor
restaurant use, behind the restored façade. The upper part of the
original façade had iron window guards for flower boxes which
should be used upon completion.
5-6 Henrietta Street :
Henry’s Restaurant. The use of
‘A’ boards on all narrow Covent
Garden streets is undesirable.
7-8 Henrietta Street : Vacant.
9 Henrietta Street : Rohan.
Although a well designed shop
front, the size and style of the
fascia lettering is unfortunate.
17-18 Henrietta Street : Porters
Restaurant. Outdoor tables and
chairs are barely contained on
the private forecourt.
14 Henrietta Street: former Victor Gollancz
The present Victorian shop front was appropriately painted and a
model of how to do this kind of thing. The upper part of the façade
has been cleaned in accordance with the 1994 recommendations.
The projecting ledges and ironguards at first and second floor levels
were designed to display flower boxes which it would be worth
reinstating if the opportunity arises.
15-16 Henrietta Street: Canada Shop/South Africa Shop
The fascia signage adopts oval badges of each country’s flag and
these and lettering and colours throughout now dominate the
shopfront. Painted signs would be better. The dark green of the main
door and shop door is appropriate in accordance with the 1994
recommendations. It is a pity that this frontage with No. 16 does not
maintain the elegant symmetry of the upper façade. The two outside
free newspaper boxes should be moved inside.
16 Henrietta Street: Porter’s Bar
The replacement fully glazed ground floor bar frontage with central
timber framing and doorway is a good example of restrained
contemporary style, under the blue traditional canopy, with
acceptable fascia, signage, lettering and small lights. The turquoise
blue painted side door would be better in a rich dark colour.
17-18 Henrietta Street: Porter’s Restaurant – outside seating
The frontage with its ceramic tile surround has been handsomely
restored. The name signs are well integrated into the entablature,
and there is also a good hanging pictorial sign on an elaborate
wrought iron bracket. The hanging summer baskets have been
appropriate on a restaurant like this, when lavishly planted. The
current approach to building lighting could also be reviewed in
accordance with the guidelines. Plastic bunting has been removed in
accordance with the 1994 guidelines, but replaced with frontage ‘A’
boards and signs on railings which should be removed.
19 Henrietta Street: All Bar One
This adaptation of a handsome building on the corner of Bedford
Street has incorporated the residual Neo-Georgian detailing of
Corinthian pilasters and Venetian windows and is a contemporary
‘corporate’ design of good quality. The stucco of the upper part of
the building is attractively painted in cream and white. The blend of
traditional and modern features works well here and in particular the
fascia lettering, upper planting (which might still be better at first
floor cornice level) and ‘art deco’ style lights.
Grade II
c 1880
Henrietta Street: North Side
From the first, Henrietta Street had the character of a good class
shopping street, with residential quarters above. In the 18th century
coffee houses and taverns opened here, the latter suppressed by the
Bedford estate a century later, when there was an influx of publishers
into the street. On its northern side the street is dominated by the
former St Peter’s Hospital building erected in the ‘Queen Anne’ style
in 1882, while on the opposite side, Nos. 3-10 are attractively
preserved houses of the18th century on the original plots; at its
western end, the majority of buildings date from the nineteenth
22 Henrietta Street: Global House
The stucco and joinery colours were well-painted but are in need of
maintenance in particular the black plinth section. The dark blue
backgrounds to the decorative tympana at ground floor level are a
particularly good touch. The projecting ledges beneath the first floor
windows were designed for window boxes, and there is scope for
reinstating such traditional floral decorations if required.
23-24 Henrietta Street: Vacant
The red brickwork has been well cleaned and the ground floor is
appropriately painted cream although the black plinth needs
repainting. The hanging basket brackets should be used or removed.
25-29 Henrietta Street: The former St Peter’s Hospital
The mixed use refurbishment of this former hospital with its attractive,
symmetrical Queen Anne style façade, includes new ground floor shop
units. Unfortunately the intended unified varnished wood shopfronts
are spoilt by inconsistencies : fascia lighting, and lettering,
inappropriate window and stallriser poster displays, ‘A’ boards (No. 25:
Instant Tan Centre) and notably the fascia oval country flag badges of
the Australia/New Zealand shop at No. 26. Inconsistent and
inappropriate silver painted joinery at No. 29: Karrimor should be
reinstated to timber or all shopfronts painted in a coordinated rich
dark colour scheme, consistent with the dark blue doors to upper
levels. The handsome old stone cartouches on either side of the main
entrance could still be used for traditional lettered signs. There is also
still scope for some sensitive lighting of decorative forms and details at
the upper levels of this façade.
30-32 Henrietta Street: Bella Italia Restaurant, Covent Garden
News and Masters Diner – outdoor seating
The neon sign in the window of No. 32 is a shame but 1994
recommendations to replace the blind have helped. The wrought iron
balcony at first floor level provides an appropriate location for a
traditional display of flower pots and boxes which should be
encouraged here. The flag signs and pavement accessories of ‘A’
board, postcards and lotto machine outside No. 31 add to the street
level clutter on the narrow footway and should all be removed or
placed inside.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
Henrietta Street - North Side
Grade II
caring for covent garden
Henrietta Street - North Side
34 Henrietta Street: National Westminster Bank
This important corner building is well-maintained, but the signs are
still poorly designed and sited. The black acrylic fascia signs crudely
cut across Clutton’s architectural frieze and should be taken down.
Signs in this location should comprise individual gilt or bronze letters
of good classic type fitted to the dimensions of the stonework.
Following the 1994 recommendations, the stainless steel plate signs
have been replaced with a more appropriate material but the
dimensions still do not coordinate with the blocks of the rusticated
Portland stonework.
26 Henrietta Street :
Australia Shop. This well
restored shop front has
been over-adorned at facia
and plinth level.
30-32 Henrietta Street :
1997 before improvements
were dominated by
innapropriate shop blinds.
30-32 Henrietta Street :
after improvements.
1828 - 1830
Grade II*
North Range
Central Avenue
South Range
Market Building - West and East
Designed by Charles Fowler in the Graeco-Roman style of the period,
this building was erected in 1828-30. The structure comprises three
parallel ranges of shop buildings running east-west, the central one
taller and aligned on the main axis of the piazza. The three ranges are
linked along their eastern end by a quadruple colonnade, its flat roof
forming an upper terrace. The building was executed in grey granite
and yellow brick with dressings of sandstone and painted stucco. The
restoration of the building and its setting by the GLC in 1978 set an
international example of good practice, ensuring the area’s continuing
popularity. The building is currently undergoing its first major
programme of maintenance work and repairs since restoration.
West Elevation
The restored building remains in good condition and many of the
original GLC guidelines, restated in this document, should apply. This
sunny location with outdoor tables and chairs, continues to attract
visitors to eat outdoors and one consequence is the redevelopment of a
pigeon colony, feeding on dropped food and litter. It is hoped that the
Market Management practice of flying a Sparrow hawk, in combination
with new deterrent rooftop measures of wires will minimise roosts.
Interim provisions during maintenance works have included the
temporary siting (blocking the north south route) of a pastiche heritage
design of trading stall and temporary large umbrellas over the end
Apple Market stalls. These features have had a negative impact on the
elevation and should be re-considered.
North Range
The entrance to the Apple Market (planned for improvement and
restoration) remains an attractive feature of the West Elevation. The
use of the original flower barrows for trading is an appropriate focal
point, although daily fresh flowers would be a pertinent addition.
The large natural canvas umbrellas with lights for weather protection
has not improved this approach to the market. As with other trading
activities in the Piazza area, goods display, storage and stall structures
should be managed and maintained to a higher standard to avoid
overspill of goods, bad storage arrangements and impact on free
movement. Umbrellas under covered areas should not be permitted.
South Range
The use of very large umbrellas with advertising continues to spoil
the view into this part of the building. The tables and chairs should
be managed and equipped in accordance with the guidelines set out
in this document. The stall immediately behind the tables and chairs
is an attractive use, although signage, sprawl of activities and stall
design should all be strictly controlled. The Market Cafe has an
overlarge outdoor seating area which, combined with umbrellas and
accessories, continues to dominate this important view. When the
opportunity arises the right hand area should be discontinued and
replaced with a new area on the south side of the Piazza.The small
neon advertising lettering and the pizza oven/bar inside the unit are
examples of an undesirable approach to attracting customers that
should be resisted.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
Market Building - West and East
West Elevation
caring for covent garden
1828 - 1830
Grade II*
South Range
Central Avenue
North Range
Market Building - West and East
East Elevation
Central Avenue
The Central Avenue survives as a complete shopping arcade with original shop fronts and
walls stuccoed to resemble masonry. The shop fronts are three bays wide, framed within
segmental-headed recesses; above are attic stages with windows set in groups of five
behind dwarf Doric columns. The partly glazed roof of low pitch rests on wooden king-post
trusses. Above the terrace at the eastern end, the projecting upper stage of the central
avenue carries a pediment decorated with urns and a sculpture of Flora in Coade stone by
R.W.Sieveir. The western end terminates in a Tuscan colonnade of five bays with a recessed
upper storey of seven bays and central pedimented gable. Special guidelines for paint and
signs have been applied to the Market Building. These were originally drawn up by the GLC
and incorporate the results of detailed historical research at the time the building was
restored in 1978. Modifications are now proposed to raise the quality for modern retailing
and maintaining a traditional coordinated palette. These include the projecting signs shown
in the illustration on page 38, which have been approved by CGAT.
The east elevation has a continuous terrace area emphasised by the conservatory addition
at first floor. The detailing of this large area of glazing is at odds with the historic
qualities of other parts of the building and the tinted anti-sun glazing increases this
somewhat anachronistic character. The restored sculptural group above the pediment of
the Central Avenue would be enhanced by improved feature lighting.
West Elevation
At the time of writing, the right hand unit (14) was vacant and obscured by the siting of the
temporary pastiche heritage design of mobile stall.
South Range
The first floor hanging angled sign bracket and hanging sign on the pavilion is intrusive
in current form and should be refitted with a suitable decorative painted sign.
East Elevation
The use of umbrellas external radiant heaters and multiple Chez Gerard signs on the first
floor of the terrace creates a cluttered appearance above the entrance of the Central
Avenue, undermining the overall quality of the building. Efforts should be made to remove
as much of this clutter as possible, striking an appropriate balance between commercial
requirements and aesthetic quality.
Lighting improvements should address the overly dark area below the East Colonnade.
North Range
The umbrellas in use at Pontis café seating area in the North Range are highly visible from
this end and should be removed. Other kiosks and accessories, also of intrusive
appearance, should be removed or redesigned. The pavilion originally had angled first
floor sign brackets for hanging signs. This should be restored and an appropriate
traditional painted sign in accordance with guidelines should be provided to match the
south range pavilion.
As well as major investment in a range of improvements including maintenance, management, tenant’s guidance, signage and shopfront refurbishment, CGMLP has developed a lighting
strategy for the Central Market building, illustrated here and overleaf, the aim is to retain existing traditional lantern fittings with improved light sources and small, contemporary
equipment kept out of sight.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
CGMLP’s designers, Lyons+Sleeman+Hoare’s, impression of the inside of the Central Avenue after improvements, showing coordinated signage,
shopfronts and lighting. Lanterns on in the day will not fully address the problem of dark, receding shop fronts, an issue which will need to be
explored further.
1828 - 1830
Grade II*
Market Building – North and South
The north and south fronts are similar, each consisting of a long
colonnade of baseless Doric columns with shop fronts running
behind, terminated at either end by a lodge or square pavilion of two
storeys, and having a prominent central Venetian archway flanked by
wide piers supporting a triangular pediment, carrying the Russell
family arms within a cartouche. The grey granite columns of the
colonnade support a simple entablature and balustrade of stone.
Each lodge has a ground storey of grey granite, with an upper storey
of ashlar sandstone, pyramid roof and central chimney stack. The
iron and glass roofs were added, following petitions by the market
tenants, by William Cubitt and Co., the southern market in 1874-5;
the northern in 1888-89.
North Elevation
The general form of the north and south elevations remains as
intended by the GLC’s 1978 refurbishment. The timber and glazed
shop fronts allow a balance between the commercial need for variety
by means of colour and consistency of details and form. However
some units have been adopting predominantly light painted colour
schemes, rather than the authentic dark colours and two colours in
place of one. In addition, the classic painted lettered typefaces are
being replaced with corporate house styles for shop names. Lettering
sizes are also getting larger than the desirable proportion for historic
fascias. It is intended that the new tenant’s design guide will address
these problems, to ensure an appropriate balance.The table and chairs
areas have again become cluttered with varied furnishings, umbrellas,
cables, lights display boards and servery equipment which should all
be rationalised in accordance with the new agreed guidelines. The
attractive flower stall would be better sited away from the building,
although if retained, should be positioned symmetrically with the
pedimented arch, rather than offset. The coat of arms on the
pediment itself should be sensitively illuminated.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
Market Building - North and South
North Elevation
caring for covent garden
Market Building - North and South
1828 - 1830
Grade II*
South Elevation
South Elevation
As with the North Elevation, the space adjoining would be improved
by the removal of the post and railed area, together with its parking.
This would assist with creating more pedestrian movement and
gathering space. Two units feature neon lettering which creates an
unfortunate appearance and would be improved by removal. The
practice of keeping the colonnade hanging and bracket lamps to the
improved specifications alight during the day should be encouraged
to offset any demands for brighter illuminated lettering in shop
windows. The coat of arms on the South Elevation pediment should
also be illuminated.
Listed Buildings are shaded grey and the Conservation Area boundary
is shown as a spiked line.
Grade I
34 Henrietta Street
St Paul’s Church
1-4 King Street
The Piazza – West and East
The two spaces at either end of the Central Market buildings have
very different characteristics. At the west St. Paul’s Church is the
centrepiece of a largely unchanged formal composition. A sunny,
popular space entirely suitable for public entertainment, eating and
drinking outdoors (within the adopted guidelines) and the site of the
annual Christmas tree. The increased number of larger scale events,
promotions and activities brings associated temporary staging,
lighting, utilities etc. All these ‘temporary’ elements should be
considered as matters for high quality specification, design, safety
and management to maintain the architectural setting.
At the eastern end the composition is now re-balanced by the
completed Royal Opera House development on the north side of
Russell Street. This space has been increasingly used for temporary
events, such as food and Christmas Market stalls, fairground rides, ice
rink and the continuing periodic outdoor video opera showings. All
these activities should be better specified and managed to the
guidelines, as proposed also at the western end. The video wall and
cabling provisions should all have been designed into the Royal
Opera House façade, rather than as temporary structures. (This should
all be re-examined, together with outside broadcast vehicle cable
arrangements from Russell Street and Bow Street).
St Paul’s Church – Listed Grade I
St Paul’s Church was built for the Earl of Bedford in 1631-8, to the
designs of Inigo Jones, as the focal point of the new piazza; its Tuscan
portico continues to dominate the western side of the piazza. Its
original flanking gateway structures were destroyed, and a public
lavatory built on its southern wall. Both have now been restored, the
southern one incorporating the entrance to the toilets and a fountain
and seating area. It is the only building by Jones to survive in Covent
Garden, although much restored. It is built of brick with facings and
ornaments of Portland stone, stucco and wood. Its Tuscan portico
with a handsome stone door case beneath was intended as the main
entrance from the piazza, but during building the church was reorientated according to liturgical convention with an entrance at the
western, churchyard end. The building is rectangular, with simple
arched windows running along the north and south sides and cuboid
vestries projecting from the side walls at its western end. The interior
was burnt in 1795 and restored by Thomas Hardwick; his timber side
galleries were later removed but his altarpiece with flanking screens of
columns survives in modified form. The interior was successively
remodelled during the nineteenth century. The Church is flanked by
Clutton’s symmetrical buildings of 34 Henrietta Street and 1-4 King
Street. Lighting improvements should be considered for this whole
elevation (unbalanced by the approved scheme for 1-4 King Street)
with the church clock carefully picked out by a pencil beam projector
that could be mounted, by agreement on the Central Market
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
The Piazza - West and East
Grade II
caring for covent garden
Grade II
The Piazza - West and East
Tuttons Brasserie
Flower Market/Transport Museum
St Paul’s Church Northern
Gateway - showing one of the
reinstated gateways funded
by English Heritage which
have restored the sense of
balance to this important
church by Inigo Jones creator
of the Piazza.
St Paul’s Church portico.
Retaining historic lighting can
help create visual interest.
St Paul’s Church Northern Gateway – Listed
Inigo Jones’ original plans placed the church at the centre of a
symmetrical layout, comprising flanking walls, pierced by a pair of
pedimented gateways in cut brickwork with stucco/cement facings
giving access to the churchyard, with two pavilion-type houses as
termini. None of these structures survives, but in 1993 the northern
gateway was reconstructed it its original form, by Donald Insall
Associates, and the southern gateway in l999. This included the
adaptations to the public toilets and a small public landscaped area
with benches and a sculptural fountain of Father Thames. The gate
has Tuscan pilasters with rusticated shafts placed centrally against the
arch piers, to support an entablature and triangular pediment. These
two gateways and the churchyard landscape areas behind should be
carefully illuminated. The seating area and fountain have become
something of a no-go area, adopted by street sleepers and drinkers,
resulting in litter, cleansing and maintenance problems and the closure
of the entrance doors. This could be overcome by the introduction of a
proper supervised and managed use during opening hours. A
commercial stall activity would be preferable.
Russell Chambers: Tuttons Restaurant – outside tables and chairs
The elevation of this building follows the Bedford Estate style
successfully used by Clutton at the western end of the Piazza, with
arched ground floor openings, red brick, Portland stone and slate
roofs. The ground floor shop blinds work well with the scale of the
building and the restaurant fronts continue the quality of the Russell
Street frontage. The two wall bracket highway lights are a model
demonstration of positioning to respect the architectural treatment –
at the midpoint of the rusticated stone pattern. Tables and chairs (56
covers on Piazza, 6 on forecourt following the original adopted
guidelines) on the highway are appropriate at this location.
The Flower market – Listed Grade II, London’s Transport Museum
Part of the west end of the Flower Market occupies a portion of the
site of Jones’ portico houses on the east of the Piazza known as Little
Piazza. One face of the building’s western extension abuts the south
side of the Piazza, standing on the site of three 17th century houses,
Nos.1-3 Tavistock Row. The Flower Market was constructed in 1871-2
to designs by William Rogers, to house the flower traders operating
in Fowler’s Market Building, and was subsequently extended three
times from 1884-7. It is a vigorous Victorian classical building of red
brick with stone dressings, planned as two wide and lofty naves
extending northwards between three aisles. The interior is an
extensive structure of cast iron arcades with glazed clerestories,
supporting slatted roofs and skylights. The Piazza façade of the
original building follows the design of the main façades with an
arcade of round arched openings at ground floor level; above them a
pedimented attic rises in the centre with a large lunette window,
expressing the eastern transept which crosses the two aisles. This
building has been well restored and now houses London’s Transport
Museum (entrance South Side of Piazza) and the National Theatre
Museum (entrance from Russell Street/Bow Street).
Grade II
Grade II*
43 King Street
The composition between Bedford Chambers and the east side of
James Street was finally completed by the Royal Opera House
development (see Royal Opera House sheet for further details).
Although it has not adopted either Inigo Jones’ original 17th century
designs or those adapted by Henry Clutton for the 19th century
Bedford Chambers the design has created a bright, coordinated
stripped classical arcade leading to a route through the new Opera
House foyer, to Bow Street and a return arcade, leading to Russell
43 King Street: undergoing refurbishment
The effect of Archer’s design was seriously compromised by
inappropriate painting, as part of an otherwise thorough restoration
in 1978. The sugar pink of the stucco reduced the architecture to
‘Quality Street’. Because of damage to the original brickwork, it was
not possible to strip the later stucco when the building was last
restored. As a compromise, the stucco was therefore painted brick
red to match Cluttons’ flanking blocks. Over the years this healthy
brick colour degenerated into a rather over prissy treatment. At the
time of writing a full restoration is in progress including the welcome
opening up of the doorway to Bedford Chambers arcade.
Covent Garden Piazza: Bedford Chambers
Rebuilt in 1877-9 by William Cubitt and Co. to the design of Henry
Clutton for the ninth Duke of Bedford, Bedford Chambers occupies
the site of three portico buildings fronting the Piazza and No.32 James
Street. Clutton’s design was based on that of Inigo Jones’ portico
houses, but executed on a larger scale. The building, of red brick and
Portland stone, comprises four storeys and eight bays. On an arcade
of rusticated stone piers, are set two tall storeys of red brick, each one
window wide, divided by stone pilaster strips. Above is a bold mutule
cornice of stone, and a fourth attic storey. The pitched slate roof
carries tall oval lucarne windows and chimney stacks of brick.
The grond floor is currently being reconstructed. At present however
the ground floor arcade continues to be a visual mess with all kinds of
inappropriate clutter, although at least the 1994 recommendations to
remove dwarf briquette plant-containers and seating beyond the outer
face of the arcade have been achieved. The Rock Garden has
implemented shopfront and lettering improvements in acordance with
the 1995 recomendations but continues to seek an unacceptable,
expanded outside tables and chairs area. Historically the arcade was a
public right of way and should be kept clear for pedestrian movement
in future restoration work. The shop fronts within the arcade should
be restored to the original uniform Clutton design throughout and the
partially successful example of St. Peter’s Hospital in Henrietta Street
and the Shell retail frontage block on the Strand are good examples to
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
The Piazza - North
The Piazza – North Side
Bedford Chambers
caring for covent garden
The Piazza - North
Bedford Chambers: No.1 and 2: The Piazza Covent Garden Wine
The mixed painted yellow, brown and cream shopfront should be
restored to the original timber detailing of Clutton’s design evidence
of which survives in other units and the entrance. This opportunity
may arise when development proposals for this unit and the rear
accommodation are implemented. These are believed to include retail
and office accommodation replacing the arcade bar and seating areas
(approx. 90 covers).
43 King Street : before current
Bedford Chambers
Nos 1 and 2 : The Piazza
Covent Garden Wine Bar,
showing ‘A’ board clutter and
temporary signs which do not
add to the classical proportions
of Bedford Chambers.
The Rock Garden shop front
and signs have recently been
greatly improved.
Bedford Chambers: No.3: The Piazza Mosaic
Outside clothes rails, stands, a sign and mannequins clutter this part
of the arcade. The unattractive shopfront with deep fascia sign
should all be stripped away and replaced with the restored and
coordinated traditional timber detailing as for the other units.
Bedford Chambers: No.4-6: The Gardening Club/Rock Garden
The shabby black and orange boards should be stripped away and
replaced as part of the coordinated restored shopfront scheme for
the whole arcade. The Rock Garden have implemented some signage
improvements. The arcade tables and chairs accommodate
approximately 130 covers, a very narrow passageway between,
external space heaters. The arcade frontage is enclosed behind black
framed glass screens and bollards. The screens should be removed
completely and consideration of the retention of the historic bollards
reassessed in order to open up the arcade and prevent the build-up
of such clutter.
The Piazza - North East/East - Royal Opera House
The redevelopment by the Royal Opera House to a design by Jeremy
Dixon and Edward Jones with Building Design Partnership has now
restored the form of enclosure of the Piazza, including a trabeated
ground floor rather than the arcade which formed part of Inigo
Jones’ design and which survived till the 1930s. The arcade and
adjacent highway and footway is kept clear by a legal agreement on
the planning consent prohibiting restaurant and wine bar use. Each
shopfront has identical full height glazing with a curved bay display
window set in bronze anodised framing.
Bays 1-4:
Unit 11:
Unit 10:
Unit 9:
Unit 3:
Nine West (return elevation from 1 James Street)
The Piazza Bridges Confectionary Kiosk
The Disney Shop with unfortunate corporate logo.
Gadget Shop with garish neon script lettering and
unfortunate window stickers.
Dockers with lit fascia signs behind glazing at high level.
Quicksilver with unnecessary window posters and stickers.
East Piazza: Paperchase acceptable if High Street in style.
East Piazza: Fred Perry acceptable display quality.
East Piazza: Nicole Farhi with high level fascia sign and
lettering stuck to window at low level.
East Piazza: East acceptable display quality.
The Floral Hall – Relocated and restored to Bow Street frontage
This building formed an integral part of the Opera House rebuilding
scheme by E.M.Barry after the fire of 1856; built to serve as a flower
market, it was opened in 1860, and became a foreign fruit market in
the late 19th century. It is a light open structure of ornate cast iron and
glass, with an eastern façade of four arched bays, comprising two
outer aisles and a wider double arch between, articulated by four cast
iron pillars which rise through the upper storey, which is a continuous
arcade of round headed windows. Originally this storey supported a
semi-circular glass roof, with a large glass dome behind. But these
features were not reinstated after being damaged by fire in 1956 until
the completion of the Royal Opera House development in 2000.
The redevelopment of the Royal
Opera House has restored the
form of enclosure of the Piazza.
All shopfronts on the new
ground floor are identical
creating a sense of harmony
within a formal square. Since
opening, many units have felt
the need to introduce neon
lighting and other garish
internal display features which
undermine the intended
elegance. Landlord controls
should seek removal of such
innapropriate displays.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
The Piazza - North East/East
caring for covent garden
Grade II
London’s Transport Museum
Grade II
The Jubilee Market
The Jubilee Market Hall
The Piazze - South
The Piazza – South Side
London’s Transport Museum Entrance
The western section of the Flower Market was constructed from
1871. The single storey entrance is roofed with glazed skylights
supported on decorative cast iron columns, with a decorative brick
flank wall fronting the alley to Tavistock Street. The rich dark green
painted decorative screen elements combine well with the new
glazing bars and plain glass frontage. This is a model demonstration
of how a modern treatment can integrate with an historic structure,
spoilt by the vertical and horizontal advertising banners which should
be removed. Aroma Coffee (which also has three large banners which
should also be removed) operate the London Transport Café which
has in the past included overlarge and more contained outdoor
tables and chairs areas on the frontage only. This arrangement could
be reviewed as part of an agreed repaving plan, replacing the granite
sett entrance carriageway with York stone footway, incorporating the
proposed realigned, wider southern footway linking to Henrietta
Street. The bench with London Underground sign is a thoughtful
advertisement integrated with a sensitive design of furniture. An HLF
funded redevelopment scheme is planned for early in 2004 which will
reorganise the entrace and circulation arrangements, dramatically
improving the space available for display and other facilities.
b1781 b1781
Grade II Grade II
2-4 Henrietta Street
The Jubilee Market – Listed Grade II
The Jubilee Market was built by Lander, Bedells and Crompton in 1904
on the south side of the Piazza, to provide premises for dealers in
foreign flowers. It is a freestanding oblong building in the Edwardian
Baroque style, of red brick with stone dressings. It is constructed of
two storeys, both divided longitudinally by a row of widely spaced
columns. The ground storey is largely open to the street, the upper
storey has clerestory windows and carries a balustrade. At each corner
is a pavilion feature of two pedimented stages topped by a small
dome. The Jubilee Market has been converted to a sports club and the
new iron and glass market canopies at ground floor level are well
designed and nicely painted dark green. It is important however that
the market stalls, board signs and other clutter should be kept to a
minimum and within the curtilage of the building. The permanent
market buildings were designed in the 19th century to provide an
architectural discipline for trading activities and to stop uncontrolled
sprawl into the open space of the Piazza. This discipline has been
generally well maintained. Any agreed frontage paving extension
based on the Henrietta Street realignment would only be beneficial if
kept clear for pedestrian movement. The summer hanging baskets on
the Jubilee Market canopies are particularly good, and the lettered
signs on the stone balls flanking the entrance to the Sports Hall are an
original and characterful feature, of a type to be welcomed in the
Conservation Area. The additional painted board signs compete with
the high level gold lettered signs and both should be considered for
replacement with a more acceptable style and form.
The Jubilee Market Hall
This modern building connects to the Jubilee Market and continues
the ground floor covered market space. It was designed by the Covent
Garden Housing Project architects, and opened in 1987 after a long
local campaign. The red brick and stone dressed façade attempts to
harmonise with the other principal buildings of the Piazza. The details
of the symmetrical elevation with ground floor flat arched arcade,
arched windows and large plain cornice are post modern in style. The
bulk of the building is emphasised by its height and the unfortunate
adoption of a building line in advance of those adjoining it. At
ground level this creates a cluttered arcade for stall trading. Of these
uses, the craft market is most orderly, requiring less space for storage
and display. The framed metal stall system is too crude and does not
inspire high standards of coordinated display, essential along this
frontage. The two ‘shop fronts’ and signs at the rear of the arcade
have poor graphics and undesirable internally illuminated signage,
although recent improvements to lighting, replacing flourescent strip
lights with traditional lantern designs, are welcomed. Planting boxes
could be used on first floor projecting ledges to complement the
displays of hanging baskets on the frontage columns.
2 Henrietta Street : Lloyds TSB Bank, Pizza Hut and Lloyds Bank
This has been well-cleaned at upper level but cleaning is still required
at ground and first floor. The classic lettering over the office door is
excellent. The polished steel plate signs on either side of the bank
entrance should not cut across the door architraves. These signs
should comprise smaller brass plates fitted exactly to the dimensions
of one of the stone blocks and not overlap the architrave. A sign on
the entablature would also look better in gilt or bronze classic type to
match the Bank Chambers sign. The Pizza Hut entrance is ingeniously
and relatively discreetly arranged however, the internally illuminated
corporate identity is very much at odds with this historic setting as are
the ‘A’ board, overthrow hanging sign and silver tops to railings
which should be black. A person with a Pizza Hut placard and arrow
sign at the bottom of James Street is a shabby addition to the street
scene which should be discontinued immediately.
London’s Transport
Museum entrance. The
proposed improvements to
the building should also
include a level pavement
The Jubilee Market Listed Grade II. The stall
trading structures and
displays must be high
quality. Existing weather
screens are too varied in style
and quality.
Jubilee Market Hall planting.
3 Henrietta Street
The dark brickwork and the cream-painted stucco is a smart and
traditional treatment. This is a model of how to maintain a London
terrace house of its type.
4 Henrietta Street: Toni and Guy
The shop front is well designed, but would be better painted in a
strong traditional colour (see Chart) in place of white. The lettering is
too big and bold for the proportions of the entablature. The stucco
is appropriately painted cream, but does not match around the
shopfront. There is scope for window boxes at first floor level.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
The Piazza - South
caring for covent garden
ROH and Russell Street - North and South
Russell Street North Side, Royal Opera House Development
Grade II
National Theatre Museum
8-12 Russell Street South
Royal Opera House Development
Russell Street – North and South
Royal Opera House – South Elevation to Piazza/Russell Street
This is a broad street, which commanded a view of St Paul’s Church
across the piazza, providing access to the piazza from Drury Lane via
the narrower (Little) Russell Street. Building began here in 1631 and
the street was fully occupied within six years. Its seventeenth century
occupants included more tradesmen than people of title. During the
18th century the street was known for its many coffee houses; the cafes
and restaurants in present occupation revive something of this
character. Russell Chambers was completed in 1887 as a hotel, and
was one of six buildings on the Piazza executed in a similar
harmonising style by Henry Clutton, the 9th Duke of Bedford’s
consultant architect. In 2001 the street was improved, partially
adopting the 1994 recommendations in the use of traditional York
stone footways, with buildouts, tabled junction headways in dressed
granite setts and restored Eddystone columns with Rochester lights
and rationalised entrance gates and bollard layout. It is regrettable
that black Tarmac rather than granite setts was used for the
carriageway and that so much space has been allocated to vehicles,
including a centre of road taxi rank, all of which block views to and
from the Piazza. Trees were also planted only on the northern footway
side. Their contribution to the townscape should be monitored..
The Piazza – North East
Russell Street
Royal Opera House – East Elevation to James Street/East Piazza
James Street Elevation
East Piazza Elevation
Royal Opera House – Russell Street/Part Bow Street Elevation
Russell Street
Bow Street Elevation
Russell Street – North Side
Between 1817-23 the famous essayist Charles Lamb lived with his
sister Mary in rooms at 20-21 Russell Street, In the 19th century the
development of the market increased the value of sites here, and the
Bedford Estate re-acquired some properties sold two centuries earlier.
In 1887 Nos. 13-16 on the north-western corner with the Piazza were
pulled down to make way for wooden sheds and the plot remained
vacant until the Royal Opera House redevelopment in the 1990s.
No. 15: Russell Street Vacant
This unit was subject to a planning condition requiring its use as an
information kiosk, primarily for purposes associated with the provision
of information to the general public in respect of the Royal Opera
House, the Covent Garden Area and ‘Theatreland’. This necessary use
was not implemented until recently and the illustration above shows
an unacceptable ‘fly posted’ appearance incompatible with the quality
of the development.
No. 17: Russell Street: Godiva
Part of the Royal Opera House redevelopment, employing a
consciously modern façade comprising granite facing and fully glazed
standardised shopfronts with traditional style maroon roller blinds.
The otherwise tidy and stylish shopfront is spoiled by the clutter of an
‘A’ board which should be removed.
No. 18: Russell Street Molton Brown
Almost identical to No. 17 without blind but split with next door
No. 16: Vacant previously Kenneth Turner
The adjacent glazed windows to the left form part of unit 3, The
Piazza East,. One window has a black blind.
No15 Russell Street : Recent
improvements to this display
can be seen on page 22.
No17 Russell Street : Godiva.
The contemporary design of
the north side of Russell Street
is in sharp contrast to the
historic south side elevations.
Improvements in Russell Street
have regretably not included
the 1995 reccomendations for
carriageway repaving using
granite setts.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
Russell Street - North
caring for covent garden
Russell Street: South Side
King Street - South
Russell Street’s appearance on the south side is dominated by an
extension to the former Flower Market buildings by William Rogers,
now occupied by the National Theatre Museum. The terrace of
houses of the 18th and 19th centuries, do however, preserve the
street’s original site-plots.
9 Russell Street : Belushi’s Bar
Cafe. This historic building has
been undermined by over large
modern graphics and colours.
10 Russell Street : Starbucks.
The use of a single dark colour
scheme and authentic details
make this shopfront
appropriately elegant.
11-12 Russell Street : Tuttons
Brasserie. The contemporary
graphics and colour of the
traditional style blinds is
appropriate to the building.
No. 8 Russell Street: Café Valerie – outside tables and chairs
This is the earliest building to survive, conveniently planned as a
terrace house of four storeys and basement. As Tom Davies
Booksellers, it was here that James Boswell was first introduced to Dr.
Johnson (commemorated on a blue plaque). The varnished timber
door adjacent to this good traditional shopfront would be better
painted in a rich dark colour from the chart. The fascia sign, maroon
canvas canopy and first floor planting boxes are all good examples of
recommendations implemented.
No. 9 Russell Street: Belushi’s Bar Café – outside tables and chairs
This is a terrace house in fine red brick with white pointing, formerly
in use as a public house. There is a surviving 19th century rainwaterhead on the upper storey and good first floor planting. The window
openings unfortunately have sash fittings without glazing bars,
except at the upper storey. These should be replaced if the
opportunity arises.
The fascia sign lettering, light fittings, neon sign, first floor ventilator
grille, ‘A’ board and temporary banners and posters add too much
brash clutter to an otherwise traditional shopfront. They should be
No. 10 Russell Street
A four storey dark brown stock brick terrace house with good first
floor planting. Once again, the sash windows lack glazing bars which
should be replaced. The corporate sign is of moderate proportions in
an otherwise traditional grey painted shopfront, in need of
redecoration. The residential right hand side door is well coordinated.
Restoration of a traditional small railed entrance would help
distinguish and separate it.
No. 11-12 Russell Street: Tuttons Brasserie – outdoor tables and
This is the site of the first Turkish Baths in the country, established
about 1681, later becoming known as the Hummums Hotel. It was
destroyed by fire in 1769. Russell Chambers was rebuilt in 1887 in the
Bedford Estate style. The ground floor shopfront, painted and timber
joinery details, blinds and frontage tables and chairs are all excellent
models of restrained traditional style. First floor stonework may need
gentle cleaning.
389 Strand: Paradiso e Inferno
Late C19th
37-30 Southampton Street
Southampton Street
The street was laid out in 1706 over the site of Bedford House, to
connect the Strand with the Piazza. The street was complete and
occupied by 1710, and two houses, Nos.26 and 27, survive from this
period with slight alterations. No.27 was the home of David Garrick
from 1749-72. Houses at the northern end of the street have wider
frontages, while at the southern end the street narrowed and was
closed with a gate to exclude market traffic. In 1830 the southern
end was widened under a statute of 1826 for improving the Charing
Cross and West Strand area. The gate was removed in 1872. The
Dukes of Bedford appear to have operated to preserve the street’s
genteel character until the 19th century, when the offices of
newspapers and magazines and the headquarters of various societies
took possession of properties which were previously private
residences or tradesmen’s premises. The street was again closed to
the Strand as part of improvements in 1995 which included trees,
cycle racks and York stone footway paving and granite sett junction
improvements at Maiden Lane.
389 Strand: Paradiso e Inferno
The south west corner of Southampton Street is occupied by the
return elevation of 389 Strand, a handsome inter-wars Classical
façade ingeniously detailed as a giant Venetian window. The existing
polished black granite and stainless steel 1950s shop front has a
Late C19th
Grade II*
22-29 Southampton Street
certain sleek style but the effect is compromised by the Dutch blinds
and painted fairground style fascia sign on the Southampton Street
side. All these should be removed. The sign would be most
appropriately treated as individual chrome letters applied directly to
the black fascia to match the sign over the corner entrance. ‘A’ boards
should also be removed. Considerable improvement could be achieved
here at a little cost.
37-36 Southampton Street: Dudley House
A large late 19th century commercial red brick block with cream painted
dressings, built after the widening of the south end of the street in the
1870s. The ground floor has a strong and attractive green and olive
faience architectural framework. The two windows occupied by the
Ristorante Italiano at No.36 are spoiled by the inserted sub-fascia. The
glazing should be restored to fill all the space up to the underside of
the entablature. The signs should be fitted onto the entablature itself
and scaled and lettered accordingly. (Porters in Henrietta Street shows
how a shop front of this type and style should be treated). The
Sketchley metal framed shop front at No.37 is an inter-wars insertion
of some interest in itself and should be retained. The painting of this
in Sketchley house-style colours of green and white is perfectly
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
Southampton Street
Early C20th
caring for covent garden
Southampton Street
35 Southampton Street: Manorom Too Thai Restaurant
This forms part of the 1980s commercial Queen Anne redevelopment
of the west side of the street and like Nos.36 and 37 has its original
strong olive green and blue faience architectural framework to the
ground floor. The shop front of the restaurant, with its tango orange
tiles and neon box signs detract from the appearance of the building.
There are plans to update the restaurant. A new shop front is
required here which restores full height glazing within the faience
architectural surround.
35 Southampton Street :
Manorom Too Thai restaurant.
34 Southampton Street : Toni
and Guy.
32-30 Southampton Street : Ellis
29-28 Southampton Street :
Cafe Nero.
Extensive glazed shopfront
examples contrasting with
authentic frameworks, are
generally less desirable than
traditional proportions.
34 Southampton Street: Toni and Guy
The shop front is well designed and painted a traditional colour. The
sign is well related to the fascia and has carefully chosen lettering,
spoilt by the lit box hanging sign. This would be better in a
traditional painted style.
32-30 Southampton Street: Ellis Brigham
The shop front at No.30 has been restored in accordance with 1994
recommendations. The old arrangement survived above the transom
and showed how the original tripartite joinery with a wider central
door was worked out. The plastic signs have been replaced with
painted lettering on panels on the entablature. An iron bracket for a
fascia hanging sign could also be restored.
29-28 Southampton Street: Café Nero – outdoor tables and
A red brick commercial block within corner cupola nodding at the
companion turret at No.30, across Maiden Lane. Sensitive lighting of
the turret and roof would create a night-time focal point along the
streets. The shop front is well painted, but the siting of the blind box
in the middle of the fascia makes it impossible to install a painted
sign on the entablature; if this were to be raised and put on top of
the entablature cornice in the traditional position, a more attractive
lettered sign could be painted on the fascia.
27-26 Southampton Street: Regus
The elevations of both these early 18th century listed houses have
been well restored and require no further attention. The bronze
plaque commemorating Garrick’s residence is of historic interest in
itself, being one of a series (designed by Fitzroy Dol) erected by the
Bedford estate circa 1900. Details like this contribute greatly to the
character of the Conservation Area and should always be preserved.
Sensitive spotlighting may be an added enhancement to the street
25-22 Southampton Street
(See No.2 Henrietta Street).
Jubilee Market Hall and Building
14-8 Tower House
Southampton Street – East Side
No market traders were permitted to operate from premises in the
street until 1899. Nothing survives of the original layout on the
eastern side of the street, which is now dominated by the outsized
Jubilee Market extension and Tower House on the southern corner
with Tavistock Street, itself largely rebuilt from the 19th century on as
the market expanded. The lower part of Southampton Street was
completely redeveloped from the 1870s onwards, in the eclectic late
Victoria commerce style using red brick, terracotta and stone, the
street being widened at that time.
Early C20th
7-1 Former Post Office
378 The Strand
14-8 Southampton Street: Tower House vacant at ground level
A large inter-wars commercial classical block faced in Portland Stone
with a corner turret. A facade retention scheme by architects Lifschultz
Davidson, with a modern atrium interior, is now complete. The
openings are simple glazing. Tower House is to be renamed in memory
of architect Ian Davidson who died in 2003.
Southampton Street: Jubilee Market Hall and Building:
The north eastern side of the street is occupied by the over-scaled
return elevation of the south back of the Piazza. On this side it
presents a somewhat chaotic arrangement of six storeys of stepped
yellow brick flats. The attempt to relieve this bulk with the inclusion
at low level of a sculpture comprising a slab of stone and bell
achieves little. Its relevance to the site requires an explanation.
Footway ‘A ‘ boards for the Exchange and Wagamama should be
removed. Handrails are planned to assist the disabled at the steps up
into the market area.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
Southampton Street - East
caring for covent garden
Southampton Street - East
14-8 Southampton Street :
Tower House has been
sensitively restored externally
with contemporary designed
office interiors.
7-1 Southampton Street :
Former Post Office now
Sainsbury’s Local has restored
this important building and it’s
historic details, but
unfortunately incorporating the
fully glazed shop front.
7-1 Southampton Street: Former Post Office – development for
Sainsbury’s Local
A large red brick, late 19th century commercial Queen Anne block
dating, like the similar buildings on the opposite side of the street,
from the widening of the south end of Southampton Street in the
1870s. The original strong architectural framework with pilasters
and entablature survives on the ground floor and it is hoped will
inform the Sainsbury’s. The shop fronts are well designed to fit
within this, with full height glazing and lettered signs on the fascia of
the entablature. The colouring and quality of the type face of these
are capable of improvement. The policy for the shop fronts here and
in the similar blocks on the other side of Southampton Street should
be to seek full height glazing in simple painted timber surrounds and
to restrict signs to decently designed individual lettering on the shop
front entablatures. The magnificent carved wooden, projecting clock
was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is a major ornament of the
Conservation Area, well worth special lighting treatment as a night
time feature.
378 Strand
A plain Portland Stone block on the corner of Southampton Street and
Strand, this is not of any great merit in itself. The ground floor is
seriously disfigured by the over-scaled and brashly coloured W H
Smith’s standard box-fascia signs. These should be removed and
replaced by individual lettering on the stonework and painted lettering
on the window glass, taking its cue from the Regent Street shop front
policy which has devised suitable guidelines for inter-wars classical
blocks of this type. Lotto and ‘A’ boards should be removed.
Early C18th
Grade II
33-25 James Street
James Street – West Side
This street was built in the 1630s and given its present name in
1638. In the 17th century it was composed of a mixture of domestic
and commercial buildings. Most of the houses, whose plots have
survived without much alteration on the western side of the street,
were of moderate size, although a few of its inhabitants were people
of title. The street maintained its superior character until the later
18th century, when the proximity to the market and access which it
afforded to Long Acre contributed to a decline; by the early 19th
century James Street was among those whose taverns and ‘disorderly
houses’ troubled the vestrymen. Market traders gradually took over
its buildings, so that by the beginning of the last century, it was
almost entirely concerned with the fruit trade. None of its original
houses survive although the western side preserves something of the
street’s earlier character.
33 James Street Rock Garden/Rock Shop
This forms the return elevation of the Clutton-Inigo Jones Northwest
Piazza. The important view along the arcade has become very
cluttered with the accessories of tables and chairs operations. The
ground floor has long been disfigured by the miscellaneous Rock
shop signs. It is hope that current proposals will see these removed,
not least as the Rock Garden is a local landmark and does not need
neon advertising, a person with a shabby placard and ‘A’ boards.
The iron gateway leads to Cubitt’s Yard, under restoration.
Early C20th
24-19 James Street
31 James Street: Kit Heath
The stock brickwork has been cleaned, emphasising the patchwork
nature of the elevation where the top two storeys have been rebuilt.
This façade would benefit from being soot washed. The timber shop
front lacks a moulded cornice along the entire top of the entablature.
It would greatly improve the design if the top projection there were
to be replaced with a correctly detailed classical moulding. The dark
green paint is appropriate, as is the gilt lettered fascia sign and the
hanging sign.
30-27 James Street – Listed Grade II
The shopfronts throughout this run of tall stuccoed buildings were
exemplarily restored, on the basis of surviving original fragments, to
the designs of Ian McCaig of the former GLC Historic Buildings
Division circa 1978 and they are the best revived Georgian shop
fronts in London. Unfortunately some of their impact has been lost
by weedy re-painting in inappropriate pastel shades (with the
exception of Crabtree & Evelyn which is handsomely dark blue with
good gold lettering but has lost its attractive hanging gilt sign). The
‘A’ board should be removed. No. 27 (Cornish Bakehouse) would
benefit from repainting of the scruffy upper stucco and Nos. 28
(Jesire) and 29 (Fossil) would greatly benefit from appropriate
repainting of the joinery in strong, darker traditional colours (see
Chart and painted rather than projecting letter).
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
James Street
Grade II
caring for covent garden
James Street
26-25 James Street: Books etc.
This attractive pair of buildings on the corner of Floral Street shares a
unified Queen Anne style with glazed red brick piers and painted
fascia. The Dutch gables have terracotta panels with sunflower
motifs. Roundels of rubbed brick carry the date and initials G.B. A
painted traditional stallriser would be better than the existing crude
concrete plinth and the first floor ledge should be used for planting.
25-26 James Street : Books etc.
This is a good example of fascia
design and lettering.
21 James Street : Tie Rack. The
fascia, lettering style and size
are all inappropriate for this
historic building.
19-20 James Street:
Bureau de Change and
Underground Station. Future
improvements to the station
should focus on uncluttered
space and respect for the
orginal station details.
24 James Street: White Lion P.H.
This is excellently painted in cream and maroon, and the black and
gold fascia sign is a model of elegance. A large clock on the canted
corner was a good eccentric detail, which should be restored. The
rampant white lion on the chimney stack above – is an attractive
architectural detail which helps to make Victorian pubs of this type
welcome street landmarks. The hanging baskets were particularly
effective. Loose façade wiring needs concealment/refixing.
23-22 James Street: Karen Millen
This inoffensive Neo-Georgian building has painted timber sashes
which should be retained. The shop front is a neat, understated
design, appropriate to the building.
21 James Street: Tie Rack
The neat Neo-Georgian brick of the elevation is a reasonable bit of
undemonstrative Conservation Area architecture. The impact of this
type of unlisted building depends on the painted timber sash
windows with moulded glazing bars. Every effort should be made to
preserve these. If they were to be replaced by UPVC it would destroy
the quality of the building and have a deleterious effect on the
Conservation Area. The shop fascia is the worst in the Conservation
Area. It is far too deep and the lettering and oversized lamps too
standard High Street corporate in style. A fascia in this position
should be about half the depth of the existing and sit immediately
underneath the string course.
20-19 James Street: Underground Station
This makes a bold statement with its Sang de Boeuf ceramic frontage,
large segmental arches and the nice integrated Art & Crafts lettering:
‘Covent Garden Station’. The alterations carried out for the Bureau
de Change and advertising were dismal. The glass projecting
canopies and the vulgar shop front of the Bureau de Change
represent wasted opportunities. Future alteration and expansion of
the Underground Station should make the best of its existing design
assets and employ metalwork, signs and strong colouring worthy of
the original design. There is a real opportunity here for an
appropriate entrance to the Covent Garden Conservation Area.
late C19th
Grade II
16-10 James Street
James Street – East Side
The Royal Opera House extension and Piazza development now
completes the whole frontage of the eastern side. The Nags Head, at
No. 10 James Street, is its only listed building, a public house built in
1900, in neo Jacobean style. A pub of this name has stood on this
site since at least the 1670s. The north end of James Street was
repaved in dress level setts to continue the style of the 1980s south
end in accordance with the 1994 recommendations including remote
operated rising bollards. Unfortunately the limited hour of vehicle
access by signs has been modified and the bollards are no longer in
operation, although the ugly, obstructive control box cabinets remain.
The whole street is totally dominated and congested with illegal
street trading and performing, together with licensed street market
researchers. All these activities should be diminished, enforced away
and better managed to avoid the over-congestion created by those
using the tube station and as a meeting place. Other meeting places
in less congested parts of the Piazza should be promoted.
16-13 James Street: Cecil Gee (47 Long Acre), The Marketing
Store and Oasis
This large brown brick box replaces three original buildings. Big and
bland, it was designed in 1978 and represents a lost opportunity,
unworthy of its gateway site in the Conservation Area. Much of the
character of James Street, as of the other principal streets in the
Covent Garden Conservation Area, derives from the fact that the
9 - 1 James Street
original narrow 17th century building plots have survived subsequent
reconstruction of the houses in the 18th and 19th centuries. When, as
here, several of the old plots are amalgamated to make one larger site,
it effectively destroys the grain of the Conservation Area. All new
development proposals must take account of this important local
characteristic. Little can be done to improve the existing building.
12-11 James Street: French Connection
The cleaning of the façade has greatly enhanced the appearance of the
upper part of this idiosyncratic Arts & Crafts elevation with its fretpatterned polychrome brickwork. The shop front is neatly fitted into
the segmental arch, but it could be more effectively painted. The
background of the fascia transom would be best painted dark with
light or gilt lettering rather than the reverse.
10a-10 James Street: The Nags Head P.H. Listed Grade II
The cleaning of the elevations of this listed building has brought out
the high quality of the red brickwork and buff terracotta decoration.
The smart gold fascia signs on black entablature, the high quality
engraved and gilt glass window signs and the hanging bracket sign
are all models of traditional pub signs and could not be bettered. The
former luxuriant summer hanging baskets on this frontage are also an
example, which should be emulated by the more starved versions
elsewhere in the Conservation Area. Used in this fashion they are a
highly effective street ‘greening’ approach and should be restored to
the brackets.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
King Street - East
caring for covent garden
James Street - East
16-13 James Street : Cecil Gee,
The Marketing Store and Oasis.
The gas lamp column in the
foreground has brackets for
hanging baskets which should
either be used or removed.
10-10a James Street :
The Nags Head P.H.
Listed Grade II.
12-11 James Street :
French Connection. A good
example of a contemporary
shop front using glass
respecting the proportions of
the historic brickwork.
9-5 James Street : Royal Opera House
This large Italianate, stuccoed block surprisingly dates only from 19802 when the Royal Opera House was extended back to James Street,
repeating the design of E.M. Barry in the 1850s, by the architectural
practice of Gollins Melvin Ward. This infill development is a model of
tactful keeping-in-keeping in the Conservation Area. The shop fronts
were inserted and help to enliven this stretch of the street, but it is a
pity that they are plate glass with metal frames rather than having
smart painted joinery similar to that used on the upper windows.
More serious is the way in which they unnecessarily and arbitrarily cut
through the moulded first floor cornice. When the opportunity arises,
serious thought should be given to redesigning the shop fronts in
order to integrate them properly into an otherwise handsome design.
The uniform red roller blinds were a good original touch, now only
used by Maxwells which is completely over-cluttered with fir trees in
silly planters and the automaton and neon signage. These should be
removed. The first colour scheme of Crown Estate cream for the stucco
and the dark Windsor green for the window joinery was a perfect
choice for this building. The present cream of the upper window
joinery is less satisfactory.
7 James Street : Accessorize
An adequate shopfront in contemporary framework.
6-5 James Street : Monsoon
Identical to Accessorize but with silver lettering making a stylish pair.
4 James Street : Boots
Large standard corporate High Street Boots logo and fully glazed
shopfront with lacklustre display.
2-3 James Street : Gap
Tidy glazed shopfront forming part of the contemporary façade of the
Royal Opera House development.
1 James Street : Nine West
Full height tidy contemporary shopfront but with frosted upper
panels and aluminium lettering.
Guidance for Building Owner/Occupiers
Roofs and Rainwater Disposal
Gutters and downpipes keep a building in good condition by taking
rainwater away safely. If they become blocked or broken damage to
the building can occur quickly.
It is vital that gutters are checked and cleaned every six months,
preferably after the autumn leaves have fallen and in the early
summer. Drainage channels and flat roofs also need to be kept clear.
A routine arrangement with a local builder is a good idea. While
clearing gutters, a check should be made of the roof tiles or slates to
ensure that none have slipped, and to replace those that have.
Take note of any areas of pointing which need attention. In old
buildings repointing should be done with a lime/sand or lime/sand
and cement mix and not with cement/sand mortar which is too hard
and can damage the brickwork. Brickwork repairs and pointing are
definitely not a job for a ‘handyman’. Proper professional builders
should be used. It is cheaper in the long run (see Brickwork Section).
Doors and Windows
A detailed inspection for defects should ideally be made annually, or
at least as often as re-decoration. External joinery should be regularly
repainted, to prevent rot and decay. This should be done at the very
least every five years, but with modern paints every three years is a
more desirable programme. Minor joinery repairs and replacement of
loose putty in the windows should be done at the same time. Iron
rainwater pipes and gutters or metal grilles will also require regular
painting to prevent rust.
King Street : fine example of
darkened London stock
27 Henrietta Street : fine
example of red brickwork
and stone dressing details.
Henrietta Street showing well
restored and maintained
painted Stucco and
Regular redecoration and
repair prevents rot and decay
in painted window and door
There are many fine brick frontages in the Covent Garden
Conservation Area and it is important that they should be properly
maintained and where possible enhanced. Specialist technical advice
should be sought for most historic brickwork matters. There are two
predominant forms of brickwork in the area: 18th and 19th century
Georgian stock brickwork and late Victorian or Edwardian red
brickwork, associated with the redevelopment of Southampton Street
and the Piazza from the 1870s onwards.
Old London stock brickwork is normally a dark yellow-brown colour.
If it is over-cleaned it becomes a harsh, bright yellow which is not how
it was intended to appear. Indeed such brickwork was often
artificially darkened by ‘soot-washing’ in the late 18th and 19th
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Henrietta Street. Well
maintained, these buildings of
different periods, materials
and decorative conditions will
continue the historic scale of
Covent Garden streets.
Subject to any major repair requirements, it is best to leave stock
brickwork in this condition, and not to clean it but to tone it down as
necessary with soot and water or a modern substitute (such as a mix
of black weathershield paint and water to a 1:16 consistency). The
practice of ‘soot-washing’ has a practical basis, as it helps to disguise
the damage and patching caused by periodic repairs and repointing.
Henrietta Street. Painted
Stucco in appropriate light
colours is historically
authentic, but requires regular
cleaning and re-painting.
In the case of Victorian and Edwardian brickwork, the elevation was
usually meant to be bright. Often the red brick was combined with
terracotta or stone ornament to create a cheerful multi-coloured
effect. It is therefore generally appropriate to clean Victorian
brickwork, but great care should be taken not to damage the surface
or texture of the brickwork. Simple washing with water, either by
hand or with sprays, is preferable to industrial sand-blasting, but
acceptable methods of dry cleaning are now being achieved. The
microparticle cleaning system developed by Jackson & Cox,
Restoration (Tel: 020 8960 313 1) has had particularly impressive
results: as demonstrated at the Natural History Museum, Buckingham
Palace and Apsley House. It is a good idea to experiment with a
sample section before attacking a whole façade with irreversible
King Street. This example of
London Stock brickwork
shows the over-bright
appearance of aggressive
cleaning. Georgian brickwork
was traditionally soot washed
and is considered more
Shopfront guidance is still
considered essential as these
examples of alterations in
James Street demonstrate.
Diluted hydrofluoric acid may be used to clean very dirty brickwork
which should be followed by a systematic neutralisation process.
Alkaline and other chemical cleaners are not recommended since they
generally contain soluble salts which tend to erode the bricks. Health
and safety of workers and pedestrians must be considered with all
chemical applications.
Modern paint can be removed with hot air paint strippers although
great care is needed to eliminate any fire hazard to adjoining
woodwork and hidden areas. The cleaning of brickwork should only
be entrusted to a specialist contractor and never undertaken by an
It is easy to damage old brickwork by inappropriate pointing. It is
important to use both a correct mortar mixture and the appropriate
joint. Mortar used for repointing historic buildings should be based
on lime rather than cement for practical as well as aesthetic reasons.
Ready-mixed lime mortar for repointing the brickwork of historic
buildings is available from various sources. Pointing of old brickwork
should have a neat flush joint and never a weather-struck joint proud
of the surface.
The Covent Garden area contains an interesting and extensive series
of painted timber shop fronts dating from the late eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. Much of the special character of the streets is
derived from these and it is important that they are properly
maintained and that any missing sections are accurately restored
using good quality joinery and appropriate Georgian or Victorian
colours. Some poor quality recent shop fronts have been installed
without consent. Enforcement action should be taken against these
by the planning authority.
In eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings, shop
windows are often set into an architectural framework composed of
classical elements such as pilasters with bases and capitals, a frieze
enlarged to produce a flat fascia, cornice and console brackets. It is
important that these features should be retained or, if damaged,
replaced in replica. Great care is needed in the selection of materials
and colours for shopfronts on Listed Buildings and in a Conservation
When restoring old shop fronts, the details should be determined as
far as possible by the evidence of the original building. If too little of
an old shop front survives for it to be restored with confidence,
evidence for missing details can often be obtained from adjacent
shop fronts in buildings of similar date and style.
Checklist of important shop features to be designed and specified with
care, in order to maintain the character of a Conservation Area.
(Recommended first floor planting boxes are not shown on this
illustration for clarity).
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
The state of preservation of the building and any detail revealed
should always be assessed and recorded before restoration works are
started. Level entries from footways help those with mobility
disadvantages and the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act
(1995) are applicable.
Modern materials such as brushed aluminium, plastic, Perspex, garish
tiles and laminates which will undermine Covent Garden’s historic
character should not be used. Any ill-considered removal or addition
of glazing bars can result in an historically incorrect shop front design.
There is a danger that ‘traditional’ shopfronts can degenerate into
‘Quality Street’ Georgian with too many little panes of glass and poor
quality joinery. The size of glass panes increased throughout the
nineteenth century, and most of the shop fronts in Covent Garden
would have had comparatively large panes, often only three sheets
divided by two bull-nose-section mullions, or six divided by two
mullions and one transom. Old shop fronts should be restored with a
degree of scholarly accuracy so as not to appear as slapdash pastiche.
Modern designs should be uncluttered in appearance and of high
Grants for, and advice on, the restoration of shop fronts are available
from the London Division, English Heritage, Fortress House, 23 Savile
Row, London W1S 2ET; Tel: 020 7973 3000;
For advice on approach to restoration, leaflets and suppliers contact:
The Conservation Register
c/o UK Institute for Conservation,
702 The Chandlery,
50 Westminster Bridge Road,
London SE1 7QY
Tel : 020 7721 8246
Email : [email protected]
Website :
Contact : Caroline Saye
The Georgian Group,
6 Fitzroy Square,
London W1T 5DX
Telephone : 020 7529 8920
Fax : 020 7529 8939
Email :
[email protected]
website :
The Building Conservation Directory
Cathedral Communications Limited,
High Street,
Wiltshire SP3 6HA
Tel : 01747 871717
Email :
[email protected]
Website :
The Victorian Society,
1 Priory Gardens, Bedford Park,
London W4 1TT, England.
Telephone : 020 8994 1019
Facsimile : 020 8747 5899
Email :
[email protected]
website :
Southampton Street.
Compare shop proportions
left and right of doorway. On
the right the stallriser height
is more appropriate than the
extensive glazing on the left.
This should form the basis of
future restoration.
James Street. This shopfront
was carefully designed by the
former GLC team, insprired by
traditional details. Its
repainting from
recommended rich dark
colours to light colours is
King Street. Although using
timber joinery, the extensive
glazing at archway level
appears too simplistic for this
important ‘Bedford Estate’
style building. Additional
glazing bars would be one
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Doors in the Covent Garden
area vary widely in style and
quality. Repair of original
features is always preferable
to replacement with pastiche
(especially no. 2 above)
modern products. Colour
schemes should adopt the
recommended dark shades
and single colours are
preferable for all joinery
(see 1).
Increasing numbers of Victorian and Georgian houses are being
defaced by the replacement of original doors and windows by
pastiche modern products which, however ‘authentic’ they pretend to
be, help to ruin both the proportions and aesthetic appearance of a
building and also reduce its sale value. Typical off-the-peg
replacement doors have integrated fanlights and are constructed of
varnished Filipino hardwood. These should never be used in any
building of architectural interest. Doors should always be painted
and properly constructed with moulded panels.
In London, Georgian doors comprised six graded panels with the
largest in the middle, the smallest at the top and the medium at the
bottom. A particular idiosyncrasy of London doors is that while the
upper four panels are usually raised and fielded, the two lower panels
are flush with inset bead mouldings. Where doors are renewed these
characteristics should be copied. Every effort should be made to keep
and repair old joinery, because it has characteristics that are almost
impossible to reproduce and the wood is better seasoned than any
reproduction can be.
Many good original doors survive in Covent Garden, especially in
King Street and Henrietta Street, and they are part of the special
interest of the area.
It is always better to repair an old architecture feature, as it if were a
piece of antique furniture, rather than replace it with a lifeless
reproduction. Victorian panelled doors, unlike Georgian ones, usually
have only four raised and fielded panels, sometimes with a flush bead
mould in the centre of the door to give the impression that it is
composed of two leaves. It is important to retain chronological
exactitude when reinstating doors and not to place a Georgian six
panel door in a Victorian building. Though it is best to have joinery
‘tailor—made’, this is obviously expensive.
A good range of doors properly made to Georgian, Victorian and
other patterns can be ordered to fit from:
Marston & Langinger Ltd, 192 Ebury Street, SW1V 8UP
Tel: 020 7823 9829, Fax: 020 7824 8757, email: [email protected];
A similar approach should be applied to fanlights above entrance
doors. When repairing or reinstating fanlights, care should be taken
to integrate the glass with the glazing bars rather than sticking on fake
mouldings to make a clumsy pastiche. Good quality traditional
fanlights can be made to order by Anthony Temperton of:
Sambrook and Temperton,
16 The Bull Centre, Stockton on the Forest, York YO32 9UP
Tel : 01904 400722, Fax : 01904 400686
email : [email protected]
Double-hung timber sash windows first appeared in London in about
1670. They were an English invention and proved the most popular
form of window for over two centuries. Early eighteenth century
windows have thick glazing bars and visible sash boxes. The 1774
London Building Act required that the sash boxes should be covered
externally by brickwork. Late eighteenth century sash bars are thin
and usually of lambs’ tongue section. The usual eighteen century
arrangement comprised six panes over six panes, whereas in the midnineteenth century it comprised two large panes over two. A small
decorative ‘horn’ detail is commonly found as a feature of authentic
late 19th century windows. This detail is often mistakenly and
inapropriately used when restoring windows to 18th century
Old window sashes are of historic interest and should be kept and
repaired wherever possible. But when renewed, or replaced, the
mouldings and proportions should be copied exactly from authentic
patterns. Grants, and advice, for the restoration of external joinery
are available from:
The London Division of English Heritage,
Fortress House, 23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET.
(Tel: 020 7973 3000);
Crown glass can be obtained from:
The London Crown Glass Company, Pyghtle House
Misbourne Avenue, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire SL9 0PD.
(Tel: 01494 871 966 Fax: 01494 871 966)
9 Russell Street has
traditional sash windows
which should have glazing
bars consistently restored
and horns below the
existing sash mid bars
should not be used.
37 King Street has fine
traditional windows
complete with 18th century
sash glazing bars.
‘Horns’ only appropriate for
19th century windows, have
been added in error to this
18th century window.
Window box planting at
upper level windows is a
traditional feature of 18th
and 19th century buildings.
Verre Royale is the closest approximation to genuine Georgian glass.
A firm which specialises in the careful restoration of old sash windows
Sibley and Son, The Grange, The Mayford Centre,
Smarts Heath Road, Woking,
Surrey GU22 OPP
(Tel. 014862 24854 Fax: 014862 20064)
Georgian glass can be obtained from:
James Hetley & Co Ltd, Glasshouse Fields,
London E1 9JA
Tel: 7790 2333 Fax: 7790 0201
London Crown Glass Company, Pyghtle House,
Misbourne Avenue, Gerrards Cross,
Bucks SL9 0PD
Tel: 01494 871966 Fax: 01494 871966
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Detailed information sheets available from English Heritage
External Colours
Paint as a means of protection, and to a lesser extent of identification,
has been in general use since the introduction of softwood in exterior
joinery in the mid-seventeenth century.
A legal case in Windsor involved the prosecution of a house owner for
painting a Listed Building deep pink and black resulting in ‘a most
unfortunate aesthetic result’. The DoE subsequently laid down specific
guidelines for paintwork on Listed Buildings in their Circular l8/88
(superseded by PPG15) : ‘Listed Building Consent is required for the
painting or repainting of the exterior or interior of a Listed Building
which would affect the character of a Listed Building’.
In particular, old brickwork should not be painted. Modern paints are
generally not vapour permeable and can cause damage to the
brickwork as well as looking unsightly. Stucco-work in London,
however, is traditionally painted and since the nineteenth century a
cream colour has been the most popular shade, though stone colour is
more authentic. Brilliant white paint is best avoided, and a deep cream
is usually preferable. The Crown Estate and the Grosvenor Estate both
use Buttermilk in Regents Park and Belgravia (BS 08C 31, British
Standard Colour) to good effect.
A good rule of thumb for old buildings is that stucco, woodwork and
ironwork were always painted, but external brickwork and stone
rarely were.
External ironwork in the early eighteenth century was painted from a
limited variety of available colours, the finer houses perhaps having
blue, while the majority would have had blue/grey or stone colour.
Green, particularly that resembling painted bronze, became popular
at the end of the century, and remained a favourite for a number of
years. A whole variety of greens were the trade markof most of the
buildings used by the old market traders throughout the Covent
Garden area. The late nineteenth century saw the widespread use of a
purple-brown colour which gradually gave way to the black, which is
still the recommended convention today.
Georgian window frames and sashes were usually painted white, but
darker colours, even black, were also common at the end of that
period. Reds, browns and greens were found on doors and shop
fronts, though the latter tended often to be more brightly painted to
draw attention to the goods on display. Rich, dark, strong colours are
preferable to paler ones for the joinery on listed buildings.
Painted graining is an appropriate traditional finish for both doors
and shop fronts, and the pilasters of the latter were sometimes
painted to resemble marble, a practice mainly restricted now to pub
fronts but which could be more widely adopted.
Henrietta Street. An example
of an off-white appropriate
for painted Stucco.
King Street. An appropriate,
although more creamy shade
of white than Henrietta Street
has been used for all walls
and joinery.
King Street. This shade of
pink was considered
appropriate for this
particulary decorative
building in King Street in the
James Street, Crabtree and
Evelyn. Painted brickwork,
especially in pale green, is
not generally recommended.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Design Guidance for
Market Hall External Collonade
Illustration taken from Tenants’
Design Guide, produced by Lyons
Sleaman Hoare for CGMLP. This
document available from the Central
Market management has detailed
elevational drawings and guidlines for
every unit in the building.
Detailed Information by the Central Market Management
Historic Paints and Colours
English Heritage and the City of Westminster agree that there are now
too many different colours and in particular too many light colours
(and combinations) in the Central Market Building and elsewhere in
the area, although more latitude is applied to unlisted buildings. The
following core list of colours (with British Standard designations to BS
4800) is proposed for the Central Market shopfronts:
Dark Greens : 12.B.29; 14.C.39; 14.C.40 12.C.39;
Dark Red : 04.D.45;
Dark Blue : 20.C.40; 18.C.39;
Dark Brown : 08.C.B.29:
Dark Maroon : 04.C.39:
Dark Grey : 18.B.29;
Black : 00.E.53
A wider palette of colours (shown overleaf) has been incorporated in
CGMLPs Tenants Design Guide for the Market Building to provide for
cases where balancing the tonal harmony of the listed building with
individual retail requirements requires an alternative approach. Such
deviations from the core colours should be individually agreed. Full
details can be found in the Tenants Design Guide.
Traditional paints were based on white lead and linseed oil, tinted
with pigments from a number of sources, some as found in the
ground, but most are the result of developments in the
manufacturing processes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
Lead paints have a specific inimitable appearance. They are the ideal
material for the authentic repainting of historic buildings. Under the
new Common Market regulations (June 1991) lead paints can only be
used for the painting of historic buildings when prescribed by English
Heritage for Grade I or Grade II* Listed properties (and works of art),
and their application is subject to particular health and safety
regulations. They also have practical disadvantages, and so are best
restricted to particular cases of authentic restoration. Genuine lead
paints for the restoration of Listed buildings are still manufactured by :
Proposed design for shop
front in James Street.
Current appearance after
negotiations with the Trust.
Note introduction of
vertical glazing bars to
main window and integral
fascia lighting at high level.
Craig & Rose Plc, 172 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 5EB
(Tel: 01383 740 000).
Lead paints will only be used rarely and most owners of Listed
Buildings will use a modern equivalent. A wide range of traditional
type paints in conventional alkyd gloss, which can be cross-referenced
to modern colour systems such as pantone, can be obtained from :
‘Papers and Paints’, 4 Park Walk, London SWI0 0AD. Can mix colours.
(Tel: 020 73528626 –
John Oliver, 33 Pembridge Road, London W11 3HG
(Tel: 020 72216466 -
The latter also stock a wide range of suitable paints and varnishes.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Wider palette of colours for Central Market
shopfronts provided in CGMLP tenants’ design
guide, to accommodate cases where the tonal
harmony of the building needs to be balanced
with specific retail requirements. Designs using
this palette should be negotiated individually.
ICI (Dulux Trade) issued, in 1994, a new range of’ “Heritage Colours”,
many of which are suitable for general use in Covent Garden and are
divided into three periods, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian
available in emulsion, eggshell, flat oil (interiors only for panelling) or
external Weathershield paints. They are available through the Colour
Dimension System at all good trade paint outlets. For all consumer
enquiries and details of nearest stockists contact:
Dulux Advice Centre on 01753 550555.
Technical/Specifier Line 01753 534225. A team of technical
consultants is available to help with queries and product
Farrow & Ball – Manufacturers of Traditional Papers and Paint – The
National Trust Range
(Tel: 01202 876141 –
Design Guidance for
Market Hall Central Range.
Illustration taken from
Tenants Design Guide.
Departures from the core colours identified for shopfronts in
the Central Market Building will only be allowed in
exceptional circumstances.
The National Trust Historic Colour range includes some typical
Georgian and Victorian colours White, Buff, Stone, Cream, Dark Blue,
Lead Grey. Slate, Drab, Olive, Brick Red, Spanish Red, Chocolate
Purple Brown, Bronze Green, Invisible Green, Black. All of these are
suitable for painting external joinery in Covent Garden.
The Georgian Group produces a list of historic paint suppliers.
(Tel: 020 73871720 –
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Russell Street. Hanging
sign, large fascia signs and
double ‘A’ boards
undermine the otherwise
important frontage and
should be rationalised.
James Street / Henrietta
Street. Painted traditional
hanging signs should be
an inspiration for all
commercial premises.
Southampton Street. This
clock desgned by architect
Edwin Luytens is a unique
example of a civic
Shop Signs
Fascia Signs
The fascia signs at the top of the shop fronts are particularly
important in a Conservation Area like Covent Garden for determining
the overall character of the streets. Standard internally illuminated
perspex fascias are inappropriate in a Conservation Area, as the day
and night time appearance will dominate the delicacy of traditional
details. Indeed, any light sources must respect the historic qualities
of the building without obscuring or damaging details with an
overbearing design. Small fittings, brackets and cabling can allow
complete concealment within the structure of a fascia sign. Authentic
traditional bracket arm lanterns may be desirable for some historic
restoration projects. A well-designed or imaginative fascia sign can
give a shop individuality and character without being at odds with its
surroundings. In the nineteenth century shop signs were a minor art
form and the Covent Garden area contained several sign-painters
among its resident craftsmen. The fascia should be related to the
proportions of the shop front, and the materials and colours selected
should be compatible with the building as a whole.
The lettering of signs should relate to the fascia size and be well laid
out. Ideally, the letters should occupy two thirds of the space and be
centred, leaving a gap above and below and at either end.
Painted lettering is always appropriate, though a range of gilded,
enamel or other applied lettering can also be effective. In an area of
this kind we believe that good classic type-faces (in particular serifed
forms) are preferable to more transient ‘graphics’ but such details
need to be treated on their own individual merits.
Hanging Signs
In addition to the fascia sign, there is scope in most shops for a
projecting hanging sign. A well-designed or imaginative sign
suspended from a traditional iron bracket can enhance the quality of
a shop front and add vitality to a street. Such signs should be related
to the character and scale of the building to which they are fixed and
need to be placed at a minimum height of 2.6 m from the pavement,
ideally at first floor level, or projecting from one of the flanking
pilasters at fascia level. The overall size should not generally exceed
approximately 600 mm square. Such signs need not necessarily
comprise lettered boards. Geometric shapes, heraldry or other
symbols, cut outs, decorative ironwork and other examples of modern
or traditional craftsmanship are all appropriate, and would give
variety and life to the streets.
Central Market Buildings
Special guidance and controls apply to the Central Market Buildings
and can be found in the Tenants Design Guide. (Extract illustrations
are included in theis document).
Blinds and Security
Leading purveyors of traditional shop blinds in London are:
Window Blinds
Deans Blinds (Putney), Unit 4, Haslemere Industrial Estate, Ravensbury
Terrace, London SW18 4RL, Tel: 020 8947 8931,Fax: 020 8947 8336,
email: [email protected],
Blinds are an established feature in shopping streets, particularly on
shops selling perishable goods or delicate materials that deteriorate
in sunlight. For over a hundred years traditional blinds, in the form of
a straight canvas awning or roller blind, were added to buildings in a
way which did not affect their individual character or that of the
overall street scene. In recent years the introduction of Dutch blinds
and ‘blister’ blinds (curved in three dimensions) has had an adverse
effect on the character of’ many shopping streets, particularly where
blinds are used primarily as an advertisement rather than as a means
of providing shade or shelter. Traditionally, shop blinds were of white
canvas, perhaps with the name of the shop inscribed in decorative
lettering, or of green, blue, or red and white stripes like deckchair
material. In general, plastic Dutch blinds should be avoided and
traditional canvas-finish roller blinds used. The roller box should be
fitted neatly into the top of the fascia cornice, so as to be relatively
unnoticeable when the blind is retracted. Planning permission is
required for the installation of blinds, and also Listed Building
Consent in the case of Listed Buildings.
Henrietta Street and Russell
Street eamples of
recommended traditional
window blinds.
Radiant Blinds Ltd., 259 Burlington Road, New MaIden, Surrey, KT3
4NE, Tel: 020 8949 8288, Fax: 020 8949 5211
General information also available from the Building Centre :
Shop Security
Originally shop windows were closed at night with wooden shutters,
held in slots within the stall board and the soffit of the fascia, and
secured with iron bars. Such a system can still work perfectly well,
though shopkeepers may be reluctant to take down and put up the
shutters every day. Some sets of original shutters survive in parts of
Covent Garden. It is important to consider shop security as early as
possible in designing a new front so that whatever method is used
can be incorporated as unobtrusively as possible, to maintain an
attractive daytime and night time frontage.
Glazing bars can be reinforced behind with iron or steel, and a brick
or concrete wall can be built behind the wooden stall riser if the
shopkeeper fears that part of the front may be vulnerable to break-in
or vandalism. Solid roller shutters and projecting roller shutter box
housings generally detract from the appearance of a shop front.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Solid shutters have a detrimental effect on the appearance of the
street and also make shops more difficult to let. Tough laminated glass
or internal lattice shutters are generally more suitable alternatives and
are good both for trade and community safety. Removable mesh
grilles fitted over the window are cumbersome but are considered
more appropriate than fixed shutter systems. Open grilles are better
for light and visibility of goods. External security shutters normally
require planning permission, and in the case of Listed Buildings Listed
Building Consent.
Another alternative is Security Film which forms a low profile system
almost invisible after installation. It has been specially developed in
various thicknesses up to 7000 (thou). It has considerable flexibility
and elasticity and the combined strength of the film and glass
considerably reduces the chance of the glass breaking during an
(Pro-Tech Window Films Tel: 01962 735700).
Shop blind, canopy and security guidance.
Shop security in Russell Street.
Space Between Buildings
Street Design Concept
English Heritage Guidance notes, including PPG15 and the document
“Streets for All: A guide to the management of London’s streets
(2000)” demonstrate the principles applicable to Covent Garden.
Useful guidance can also be found in CABE’s “Paving the Way”. The
aim is to use and maintain authentic traditional paving and street
furniture materials and to minimise modern street clutter that
undermines the streetscene. This applies to well meaning, but
misplaced landscape design elements such as ill-considered tree
planting. Greening initiatives should follow the authentic tradition of
first floor window boxes on buildings, which are more effective in
narrow streets than trees. Particular care should always be paid when
removing any established street tree planting so that archaeological
deposits are not affected.
For highways and outdoor spaces consistency will involve the use of
one standard base colour of black gloss paint for all street furniture.
Paving should be granite for kerbs, York stone for pedestrian
movement on footways and granite setts for vehicle movement on
carriageways, with dressed level granite setts to give flush routes for
universal access across the worn setts of the piazza.
All new surface covers should be in recessed frames wherever practical
and historic coal hole covers should be retained.
Paved Surfaces
The recommended traditional paving policy follows the established
policy for Conservation Areas as set out in PPG15 and English Heritage
guidance. This policy should be adopted for the whole study area,
removing the isolated inconsistencies of concrete flagstone and
Tarmac paving on footways (King, Henrietta and Southampton Streets
and outside Bedford Chambers) and Tarmac carriageways generally.
This approach will help traffic calm streets immediately and can be
implemented with or without a total restricted access zone, which
traffic management strategies often propose.
Natural York stone for footways should be sawn or “Greenmore
Rustic” diamond sawn and flame textured finish (see Appendices –
“Sources of Information”) and new and second hand natural granite
stone setts and kerbs for carriageways in appropriate colour mixes.
Level faced setts should be used as an extension from footways, across
the Piazza sett areas, to link up with the existing dressed granite ramps
up to the Market Buildings.
Russell Street. Dressed level
granite setts used at
junction. These are
convenient for wheelchair
and pushchair users and
should be used on all
universally accessible routes.
James Street. Dressed level
setts and York stone used
since 1987 has been
successful as a level walking
Traditional dressed granite
ramps should link across
existing uneven sett areas.
Footway flagstones should be laid in random lengths in random 600
and 900 mm gauges and granite setts in 100 x 200 or 100 x 100 mm
modules should be coursed generally across the line of the
carriageway. While 900mm is acceptable for main routes, 600mm
random lengths may be preferable for some secondary routes and
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Inappropriate wooden
bollards have been resited
adjacent the Opera House
arcade. (Recently replaced
with equally inappropriate
Cannon bollards aimed at
preventing vehicle access).
These should be removed.
spaces. In Maiden Lane 300mm paving has been used successfully.
The paving should be laid with a four to six sett dished channel (or to
match adjacent existing) parallel to kerbs and allowing proper
flushing with sufficient fall..
The west Piazza is untidily
cluttered with posts and
rails forming the vehicle
turning head for King Street.
These could be rationalised
or removed as part of traffic
management initiatives.
Kerb faces should be a minimum of 150 mm high to deter footway
parking by service vehicles and dressed and picked surfaces to assist
with grip. Speed tables at junctions will have the additional benefit
of providing a single surface (without kerbs) for those with mobility
disadvantages. Where tactile paving is considered essential, York
stone or granite supplies are available which should be coordinated
with adjacent materials.
Where special historic granite flags (and special surface finishes such
as the historic ramps to the Central Market Buildings) or sett modules
are used in the Piazza they must be matched, where practical, in
maintenance work.
Speed tables which will facilitate crossing by all pedestrian groups
including the mobility disadvantaged, at one level, must be finished
in a dressed (and picked) level surface. New dressed granite setts or
tumbled dressed York stone setts are appropriate materials. Speed
ramps (angled faces) should be laid in split setts with textured surface
to assist with vehicle grip and reduce surface polishing.
All surface covers must be in standard form, recessed and of
appropriate size for ease of lifting as has been achieved in the Strand,
Regent Street and Trafalgar Square. Coal hole covers will be retained,
even if coal chutes are in future plugged at below footway level.
Paving layout will generally retain level changes except at junctions
where speed table/crossing points are appropriate (as existing at King
Street, west). The use of 45 degree angles for vehicle servicing and
parking bays and narrowed carriageways at junctions should be
discontinued, in favour of right angles, if essential. Carriageway
materials will continue on the existing kerb line at speed tables.
Traditionally, junctions will be radiused or at 45 degrees, depending
on specific site arrangements.
Road paint markings for any parking bays, lettering or yellow lines are
very intrusive in historic areas and should be designed out if possible.
If essential prior to the implementation of a full traffic management
plan, they should be of minimum width (75 mm) and in Primrose pale
yellow colour, neatly painted on channel sett lines.
All paving should be bedded on concrete road base, with sand/cement
bed not compacted sand. A Visqueen bituminous membrane should
be laid under paving, lapped and continuously bonded to give some
additional protection from water penetration into basements.
Bollards and Barriers
Bollards were a traditional feature of the central Covent Garden Piazza
from its earliest layout as shown in early illustration. They were used in
architecturally formal layouts, related to buildings and activities, with
the principal role of segregating vehicles and pedestrians. The
proposed strategy of expanding the traffic managed zone to include
all the side streets aims to minimise the number of bollards needed for
this purpose, while acknowledging the continuing requirement to
protect some basement vaults from heavy vehicles. Historic evidence of
bollard designs shows examples in timber, stone and cast metal.
Existing examples also include tubular and cast metal and steel
varieties. To remove clutter and improve consistency of approach we
recommend that bollard designs in use in the Covent Garden area
should be rationalised and the number reduced as far as possible.
A minimum number of timber bollards/rails in the correct historic form
should be used to provide an architectural reminder of the former
market layout, as shown on the Piazza plans. It is important that
maintenance and replacement should adhere to the historic form,
which can be seen at the end of King Street. Timber gates/posts could
be reviewed at Russell Street and the car parking area and access point
at the junction of Henrietta Street and Southampton Street. Temporary
post and rope markers for tables and chairs areas should be replaced
with limited corner markers using an agreed wooden socketed bollard
and plain natural rope. Corner markers should only be located where
shown on the Piazza plans.
Cannon form bollards are proposed for the remaining locations. In the
longer term the cannon form should be recast, based on the listed
remaining models (either the 19th century St Paul’s Covent Garden
form or the St Anne’s 1832 form) which should replace those used in
James Street (south) and other streets (by Furnitubes), which can be
reused elsewhere in Westminster.
The only remaining large granite bollard could be relocated into the
St Paul’s Churchyard. Alternatively it could remain in its somewhat
redundant and congested existing site on the corner of the Piazza and
Henrietta Street.
James Street north. Rising
bollards are retracted into
the carriageway to allow
access for vehicles.
Traditional gas lanterns are
popular but produce low
levels of light. A
comprehensive lighting
scheme incorporating
historic gas lights and new
equipment throughout the
area is currently under
Traditional building mounted
lights at Bedford Chambers.
Traditional wall mounted
lights at St Paul’s Church .
Bollard bases should be used as a co-ordinating feature of the
perimeter post signs, cycle racks and any rising bollard vehicle
barriers, proposed as part of any long term traffic management
scheme. Rising bollards should replace all movement gates.
Although the standard of highway and building lighting in the area is
reasonably adequate, in the longer term an improvement in lighting
levels is considered an important means of providing safer streets at
night as well as a more attractive and accessible environment. Much
of the street lighting is by traditional and low illumination level gas
lamps. Westminster City Council is exploring options for improving
street lighting, while CGMLP has developed a new lighting strategy
for the Market Building. To improve the current situation, the existing
street layout of generally offset staggered lamp columns should be
modified to allow additional columns, paired across the street
especially at street ends, to light entry points with gateways of light.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Lighting at street ends could
be improved by installing pairs
of lamp columns.
Example of poorly laid out
bollards, post and bin.
Picture research has demonstrated a wide variety of historic and
interesting lamp columns, which have been largely replaced by the
George V 1910 variety, currently manufactured by Sugg Lighting (as
the Eddystone column) with a gas or electric lantern installation
(known as the Rochester).
the development of a Covent Garden Action Plan, alternative lighting
options are being considered. This includes the possibility of changing
the gold coloured lighting to a brighter white light source, a system to
allow changeable lighting levels and also illuminating selected
building facades. A ‘Lighting against crime’ initiative is also underway.
Any additional columns could use modern gas lamps, or electric
lamps of improved illumination output, and complementary light
colour characteristics within the same column and lantern designs. In
some locations small building mounted flood lights can ensure that
footway clutter is minimised. An example of the benefits of building
mounted highway lighting can be seen at Russell Chambers, with two
bracket (Rochester) lamps at first floor level facing the eastern end of
the Piazza. There are additional sites that would benefit from this
approach, removing the need for lamp columns which can clutter
highway space.
Litter Bins
Existing building lighting for illumination of façades and features is
very varied in quality and quantity. The recommended approach is to
focus on sensitive illumination of a few, notable elements, such as the
clock of St Paul’s Church, rather than overpowering displays. If a
façade is of special quality soft washes of light are better than harsh
floodlighting or over-intensive isolated sources.
The City of Westminster have existing SPG on lighting building
facades and can provide advice and information leaflets. As part of
Litter bins are a major contributor to an appearance of clutter,
especially in the otherwise relatively open spaces of the central Piazza.
An alternative approach is to put additional resources into on site litter
picking and rubbish collection, allowing the removal of large numbers
of litter bins. The existing litter bins are of two principal types. The
GLC design of small wall and post mounted bins within the Market
Buildings should be retained. The City of Westminster’s black plastic
public highway litterbin should be withdrawn completely.
A limited, much reduced number of replacement bins is proposed,
fixed at strategic locations. The recommended design is derived from
the detailing of the small GLC designed bin, increased in capacity and
made in anti bomb blast materials (special Kevlar reinforced plastic).
This material is used in decorative litter bin manufacture by The Great
British Bollard Company, P.O. Box 6, 35-37 Clive Street, North Shields,
Tyne & Wear NE29 6LY, Tel: 0191 296 1839,
email: [email protected], who produce other low
maintenance street furniture.
replace pic
Visitors should also be encouraged to take their litter away with them,
a policy which should be promoted by all local businesses and the
Piazza management.
The large black bins and any recycling bins should be removed from
public view. Improvements to bulk rubbish management, containment
and disposal is to be organised by the Market management and the
City Council. One possible solution could be an underground store
for rubbish or enclosed indoor unit as used by the Royal Opera House.
An additional or larger capacity rubbish compactor may also be an
option. The environmental benefits of freeing this space will be a new
cost but is considered worthwhile.
The existing benches in the Piazza and those in James Street (south) are
well used and the area as a whole has a large supply of formal,
informal, public and private seating and leaning areas, day and night.
Ongoing demand for more public seating in popular areas must be
balanced against other factors. For example, the current number,
layout and particular siting of benches adds a cluttered appearance
when not in use and creates other problems at times of intense
pedestrian congestion in the area, such as fast food debris in turn
encouraging pigeons and resulting in unattractive mess.
There are specific problems in James Street, where benches are
sometimes used by illegal street traders and also cause congestion in
a street which should be as clear as possible to allow free movement
of the very large number of visitors arriving from this direction.
Fewer benches help to keep movement space as clear as possible. The
total amount of seating of all categories available relative to visitor
numbers, needs to be balanced to minimise clutter. There has already
been a significant increase in the number of locations for outdoor
tables and chairs which provide seating options throughout the area.
(See Piazza Plan strategy for sitting out areas).
Large black waste bins at the
ROH are kept inside except
for emptying.
There is an onging demand
for more seating.
The modest existing public
bench was designed by the
GLC team and could be
retained in the immediate
While it is understood that inadequate seating can result in visitors
squatting on restaurant seats and the market steps, which is
exasperating for traders, the high numbers of visitors in the area
means that improving flows and reducing congestion is the most
urgent priority. If visitor numbers fall in the future revised priorities
could be considered.
The existing public bench was designed for the Piazza by the GLC
team. Of modest appearance it should be retained in the short term
with one at each corner of the Piazza, grouped with the other
essential street furniture. The colour of the support columns should
coordinate with the policy of black paint finish on highway areas, and
not the red/brown of the Market Buildings interior.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Example of previous poorly
specified, cheap plastic
furniture, now replaced with
the agreed style.
Examples of accessories
added to tables and chairs.
The agreed standard chair
design in use. These picutres
show the improvement
brought about by the new
family of tables and chairs in
the Piazza.
Tables and Chairs
Outdoor tables and chairs, serving as an extension of a commercial
wine bar, restaurant or café have become a popular and attractive
feature of London’s streets and public spaces. The ability to relax,
watch people and enjoy historic views in an outside ‘room’ are
positive features of this practice. Indeed the siting of tables and
chairs has a vital role to play in attracting pedestrians to a particular
location and influencing circulation patterns. In Covent Garden,
against these economic and social advantages must be set the
problems of management, congestion, disturbance and visual impact
on the historic area.
To meet the overall aims of improving spaces, the size and number of
outdoor tables and chairs areas should continue to be limited. The
design of tables and chairs themselves (together with accessories)
should conform to strict guidelines, beyond those currently set by the
local highways and planning authority. The general use of large,
garish umbrellas over tables and chairs areas has become most
intrusive and should be deterred. The principal aim is to ensure that
above waist level, views remain unobstructed. Chairs (with or without
arms) should be of a design that is modest and respectful to the
historic area. They should not be considered a means of corporate
promotion for the operator, as they may inside buildings or in non
historic areas. Functional considerations of comfort, safety and ease
of management by the operators themselves are essential
components as well as a realistic approach to cost and design life.
Following consultation with the Covent Garden Restaurant
Association, Satelliet and Classic Furniture and continental suppliers
were approached to finalise an agreed metal framed and wood slatted
range as illustrated. The structure of all tables and chairs is black in
finish inside and outside the Central Market. Natural, solid beech or
ash wood coloured and black painted metal table tops will all be
acceptable although affixed plain paper or linen tablecloths should
always be used. The use of table cloths is recommended for aesthetic
reasons, irrespective of the commercial requirements of different ‘food
offers’. Any exposed laminate surface top of tables should be light
coloured (Tuttons already use a grey speckled laminate). Materials for
seat and back rest could be natural timber curves inside the Central
Market or black painted finish externally. Opportunities to allow
distinction of operators within the overall approach could be explored,
although strict management of advertising will be essential. Chairs and
tables should be capable of stacking or folding for clearing away to
inside stores, when not in use. The CGMLP Furniture Design Guide,
once adopted, will make a major contribution to achieving these aims.
Table designs of either folding or stacking types that allow for a hook,
shelf or elasticated net bag under the top to secure handbags would
be considered an advantage by the local police (Crime Prevention Unit)
to reduce opportunist theft.
Current Furniture Design Guide
information on coordinated tables
and chairs design.
Grey Table Reference:
600 x 400m.
Polyrey Influence GO36
Galet Orange laminate with multiplex
substrate table top and TO261 base
Chair Reference:
Corso folding site chair, gloss black
frame natural ash slats to seat and
Chairs available from:
Satelliet U.K. Ltd.
East Street, Farnham, Surrey GU9 75Y.
Tel: 01252 724747;
[email protected];
Classic Furniture Group Plc.
Audley Avenue, Newport, Shropshire,
TFIO 7DS. Tel: 01952 825000 Fax:
01952 811948;
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
Advertising on buildings and
in spaces falls under planning
Nearby underground signs
could be modified to reduce
congestion at Covent Garden
underground station.
It is more difficult to find
directions to Covent Garden
than other popular locations
around the area.
Information Signs
Without a clear policy of restraint, signs can dominate the character
of a Conservation Area. The proposals in this report are intended to
provide an integrated framework for controlling signage in the study
area. Signs fall into three broad categories: information, regulation
and advertisement. Advertising on buildings and spaces in the area
falls under planning controls and is not dealt with in detail here.
Adverts can be very detrimental to the quality of a Conservation Area.
A policy of restrained design and vigorous enforcement action
against unauthorised signs should be maintained.
Information Orientation and Interpretation
Covent Garden is an important destination for many visitors to
London but its attractions are no easier to find than many other
areas. However, the principal problem for visitors is not within the
study area, since each street provides a clear long view of the
destination. Finding the area itself is more difficult. Identification of
a place with a named London underground station enables many
people to get there easily. In Covent Garden this creates a special
problem of congestion to the north side of the Piazza and in James
The main response to these problems (in the absence of major
infrastructure changes) should be to emphasise psychological
direction finding features, such as continuity of surface treatment,
rather than additional physical signs on the public highway.
Implementation of these aids will allow the immediate removal of
exiting finger post signs in the study area, significantly reducing an
element of street clutter. The identification of an Underground
Station (or bus stop) name with an area is powerful and we therefore
propose the immediate modification of the following London
Underground Station names, both to direct visitors to the Covent
Garden area and to help to spread the pressure of activity away from
the north side of the piazza.
Tottenham Court Road
Leicester Square
Charing Cross Embankment
(for)Covent Garden North
(for) Covent Garden North East
(for) Covent Garden South East
(for) Covent Garden West
(for) Covent Garden South
To reinforce this approach much improved map information should
be displayed at all of the identified London Underground stations
(and bus stops/shelters), giving clear route information, ideally of a
three dimensional drawing, highlighting landmark buildings. The
new Golden Jubilee Bridges have just installed pillar signs at the ends
which use 3D graphics but inexplicably, do not identify Covent
Garden (or Trafalgar Square – both important destinations from the
South Bank). A signing strategy should be coordinated with London
and English Tourist Boards and also with major hotels to supply
walking guides and map information. The increasing use and
prominence of compass directions in road and map signing should
be encouraged to help orientate all visitors. Historically street
nameplate signs would carry an arrow and principal street direction in
place of finger signs. The Strand used to be signed in this way on
street nameplates in Southampton Street. The need today is to sign to
Covent Garden from approach streets and the City Council could
consider this addition when reviewing replacement street nameplate
designs in future.
Regulation Signs
As a part of its new Action Plan for the area, Westminster City Council
is planning a new strategy to improve legibility and ease of navigation
and to encourage people to walk around, into and out of Covent
Garden. Signage will play an important role in this strategy. The
consistent traffic management, surface paving and street furnishing
approach to each of the five approach streets will also help define
Central Covent Garden.
The other principal proposal for communicating information is for
more trained personnel operating within the area, able to give
information, in person. Ideally there should be one person in each of
the approach streets (performing other duties, as suggested elsewhere
in this report). Trained and provided with good local maps staff will
add an air of quality and customer care. This will assist in directing
people within the study area and away from it. Within the area this
will help many commercial organisations and overcome the constant
desire of traders to have street commercial sign directories or
advertisements, such as illegal ‘A’ boards.
Traffic information and regulation signs invariably bring clutter and
crudely designed structures are in poor condition and some are
redundant for current highway use. Others, such as the parking
regulation and pay and display sign posts, could be better sited
immediately. This section looks at the long term opportunities
arising from any agreed traffic management proposals.
If proposals currently being discussed to expand the traffic
management zone using physical barrier control at the street ends,
go ahead, they will have the benefit of almost total removal of traffic
signs within the study area, including yellow line markings.
No entry signs could be
internally illuminated.
Russell Street has been
retained for vehicle access
and parking.
Plate signs should be fixed to
lamp columns whenever
possible rather than separate
However, at street ends, and at the Southampton Street/Maiden Lane
junction and the Floral Street/James Street junction, ‘pedestrian
priority’ and traffic access zone control signs will be needed.
These should be carefully designed to pair across the street so as to
give a gateway appearance, making an asset of a necessity. If barrier
gates must be used in the short term these signs should be
incorporated as part of the gatepost structure, rather than add an
extra post. Since these signs are likely to be considered essential for
compliance with “The Traffic Signs Regulations and General
Directions 1994” (and amendments), it would be desirable that the
post and rear face are fully utilised.
a conservation and management guide
Covent Garden Area Trust 020 7497 9245;
caring for covent garden
They could perform additional functions including some or all of the following rendered in text and/or
universal language graphic symbols:
A warning to visitors about handbag theft and a reminder of byelaws.
A health warning about pigeons and not to feed them.
A statement and map of designated, licensed, performing pitches.
A statement advising of video surveillance operating in the public interest.
Map guide illustration, marking underground/toilets, and building landmarks.
Historical information and illustrations (also in St Paul’s Churchyard).
Advice about the personnel in the area and the management office.
Any other public information notices such as planning applications.
A carefully designed structure with a front and rear face can accommodate all this information without
becoming too dominant. Signs in the Leicester Square Gardens and other public spaces in Westminster
give an indication of how this can be achieved. Some of this information will not on its own change or
influence behaviour. However, in combination with existing policing by the City of Westminster and the
Metropolitan Police, and augmented by the suggested role of on-site personnel, the sign will aid a
raised level of awareness.
The long term aim should be for automatic, rising bollard control of the whole restricted zone.
Signage guidance.
‘Pigeon warning’ signs in Trafalgar
Another important area requiring signs to ensure effective regulation, is the boundary markings
between trading and other uses of the highway. Designated pitches for licensed traders and performers
will be marked by a metal bolt inserted into the paving. Small corner markings (rather than wide
dominant solid lines) on the highway should be used, as proposed by Westminster for outdoor tables
and chairs areas.
Many design factors are involved in crime prevention and improved
private and public security. The most relevant to this study in the
central Covent Garden area concern street crime and public order
offences. The recommendations for improved design of tables and
chairs areas and current police, Community Safety Officers and City
Guardians initiatives adding increased visibility of authority, together
with better public information may all help reduce handbag theft, the
principal street crime problem as well as public disorder, with on
street penalty notices.
Deterrence and enforcement by use of CCTV cameras has been
promoted by the City Council. CGMLP have installed equipment
following detailed discussions with English Heritage concerning the
sensitive siting of a system within the Market Buildings. Many private
building owners and occupiers have their own systems and the City
of Westminster has developed its own system with equipment at the
end of King Street and James Street (on Long Acre). Detailed design
guidance should be sought from the City Council prior to
applications for external installations.
Each of the entry points at the approach street ends should be viewed
from a remote location to ensure proper and safe operation of the
existing, or any new, traffic management barrier equipment and street
In terms of the design of such equipment, it is essential that the
historic character of buildings is not undermined by the installation,
comprising a camera, bracket fixing and cabling. The City of
Westminster has produced guidelines, supplementing Home Office
advice on this subject which gives outline design recommendations
and is itself specifying a globe installation, attempting to disguise
itself as a lamp column (that selected is based on a long Grey Wornum
which is alien to the area, Eddystone columns would be better suited).
An alternative approach is to reduce the specification of image quality
(and increase the overall costs) by adopting miniaturised high
technology, to allow virtual concealment (at a casual glance) of the
equipment, within the architectural modelling of an historic building
and radio links in place of cabling.
To ensure that there is some deterrence value to the system, a limited
number of signs are recommended at the perimeter of the area and
within buildings, informing visitors that the area is under surveillance
in the interest of public safety. This should also be a feature of public
information locally and in connection with any tourist map or other
guide information.
City Council’s standard CCTV
camera design attached to
lamp column.
CCTV camera on freestanding pole.
Wall mounted burglar alarm
boxes should be sensitively
sited as part of the
architectural composition.
The Central Market has a full
time security and
management presence.
The video monitoring procedure and coordination is beyond the scope
of this report, however the City of Westminster and the Metropolitan
Police are coordinating use of the Control Room in the Trocedero
Centre at Piccadilly Circus for the West End area.
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Sensitive siting of cycle
signage on bollards.
Cycle parking area in
Southampton Street is
appropriate on the widened
footway approach which is
less congested than the main
Piazza area.
Signage advising where
cycles should not be parked
could be expanded to direct
cyclists to approved parking
Local Wardens
The City Council’s draft Covent Action Plan seeks a commitment from
local landowners and businesses to a private warden service, to
supplement the work of their own enforcement team and of the
Police and Police Community Support Officers. Although the number
of PCSOs was increased to 6 in 2003 in the Covent Garden area, their
primary role is the maintenance of security. Any new wardens would
be able to call on Police and Council services where necessary, but
their being based in Covent Garden itself would provide an ‘eyes and
ears’ role similar to the City Guardians in Leicester Square who have
proved remarkably successful in combatting street crime.
Street Drinking
Following Westminster City Council’s successful introduction of a
Street Drinking Control Zone in and around Victoria in March 2002,
it now proposes to extend the provision across the whole city. It does
not outlaw drinking on the street, but enables the Police to ask
people not to do so in a particular area. It the person refuses to stop
drinking, the drink can be siezed and arrest can follow.
The existing pedestrian zone is often very crowded. Separate cycle
routes are impossible to provide and undesirable in such conditions.
However, courier cyclists (motor and pedal) and private cyclists do use
the area and some provision for the security of bicycles may help
reduce obstructive and ad hoc chaining of bicycles to street furniture,
railings etc.
As part of the wider traffic management plan it is proposed that cycle
racks are installed in Henrietta and Russell Streets (both less intensively
used than James and King Streets), on the edge of the proposed
restricted zone. Southampton Street already has cycle rack provision as
part of the Strand improvement project. The design of the cycle
parking stand is a simple Sheffield ‘D’ ring as used elsewhere in
Any expanded area traffic management scheme, to include for example
restricted access in Floral Street, Maiden Lane and Tavistock Street,
could provide a useful means of allowing a perimeter, safe and
relatively segregated cycle route (within the hours of restriction).
A plan showing approved cycle parking locations (generally on the
perimeter of the study area), and directions not to chain cycles in
obstructive locations, should be included on the gateway signs at the
street ends and on any other approved public information display.
Public Facilities
Public Toilets
them (this mechanism has been adopted to ensure that Trafalgar
Square will be provided with new universally accessible public toilets
in May 2003) possibly with 24 hour access, as part of planning gain.
Public telephones should be
sited in pairs at the edge of
the area where space permits.
Managed, public toilets are provided underground at the west end of
the Piazza and fully accessible toilets beneath the Jubilee Hall
accessed from ramps in Tavistock Court.
The street automatic toilets are an inappropriate element of street
clutter in the study area.
This pair of telephone boxes
should have been kept clear
of this busy route junction at
the end of James Street.
Views concerning the provision of public toilets vary widely. In
response to questionnaires people always identify a need for more
toilets and residents complain of people relieving themselves in the
street. Many entertainment establishments in central Covent Garden
do have toilets for the use of customers however, which would seem
adequate for most of the demand. The major problem of late night
revellers is being addressed by the City Council’s current West End
initiatives but cannot be easily solved.
Improved information concerning the nearest public toilets is
therefore considered the most appropriate response and the City
Council has produced a pocket map guide for the West End. The
proposed map information should draw attention to the existing
locations, including those at Leicester and Trafalgar squares, within
easy walking distance.
Public Telephones
Solutions being explored by Westminster CC include improved
signage, extended opening hours, smoked glass fire doors with
outward looking CCTV cameras, better lighting in recesses and
stainless steel ‘splashback’ panels. It is also suggested that part of the
role of the proposed City Guardians should be the enforcement of
the 2001 by-law prohibiting urination in the streets of the West End.
The use of modern style boxes is highly inappropriate against the
setting of so many historic buildings. A limited number of the
Gilbert Scott design of traditional red boxes are appropriate but no
more than one per approach street is recommended. The two in
James Street should be resited as a symmetrical pair and relocated
away from the existing congested location. Any expansion and
improvement of the Underground station at Covent Garden should
also make adequate provision for payphones.
The City Council is unlikely to provide additional off street toilets,
although new developments in the area could be required to provide
No increase of street payphones should be allowed, following
adoption of these sites.
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Free-standing trading stalls
have been added to the
Central Market area.
This stall location blocks an
important north-south
pedestrian route. Visually
unattractive freestanding stalls
generally detract from the
more upmarket shops in the
Street Trading
A successful speciality shopping centre can be badly undermined if its
shops or market stalls have unattractive displays or are allowed to
look shabby. Whether it is crafts, fancy goods, flowers, clothes, fruit
and vegetables or foodstuffs, every effort must be made to keep
goods well displayed and stored.
It is illegal to trade on the streets of Westminster without a licenced
and designated street trading pitch. However, illegal trading
continues to be a problem in the area. In its efforts to eliminate illegal
street trading, Westminster City Council’s 24 Hour Operations Team is
continuing its successful intelligence-led joint operations with the
police. It is also proposed that the City Guardians would have an
enforcement role.
The controls on the traders in the Apple Market have generally
succeeded in a high standard of display goods and responsibile
trading, with stall structures that are well made and maintained in a
defined and appropriate trading area, with goods stored neatly. This
is the approach preferred for the other market stall trading areas,
including the ground floor of the Jubilee Market Hall, as well as for
individual street trading pitches.
Stalls can be popular for the goods sold and the general character of
good display and customer bustle. It is important that stall structures
and their green and white striped canopies are not allowed to
become shabby. The existing control and trading regulations do little
to address these design issues, although trading size, hygiene and
neat storage of goods, which are within the jurisdiction, should be
more rigorously enforced by landlords and the City Council’s licensing
We recommend that individual stall pitches should be sited in
accordance with our strategy to encourage activity and movement
along the less used approach routes, and away from the important
routes around the outside and through the Market Buildings. This
re-siting policy might be achieved more easily by offering a slightly
greater than usual stall trading pitch size and ideally, new stalls of
appropriately high quality design. In any case we recommend that
new, flower only, stall trading pitches on traditional movable barrows
are created for locations that attract and advertise Covent Garden to
visitors approaching the boundary of the study area. In this context
we note that CGMLP have investigated new designs for trading stalls,
of appropriate traditional character but in the interim have used
pastiche standard designs at the east and west ends of the Central
Market building (neither selling flowers). These are poorly sited and
should be rethought.
Licensed and unlicensed street food vending has expanded with fast
food popularity. This type of trading has brought serious visual and
environmental problems, notably an increase in the resident pigeon
and seagull populations.
We recommend that no new licenses are granted, that existing
licensed operators on private land are rigorously controlled and
ultimately replaced with less problematic uses, and that unlicensed
operators are subject to enforcement action. One exception to this
strategy could be licensed hot chestnut vending which is traditional,
and of low negative visual, environmental impact.
The year round clutter created by temporary structures seems out of
balance with the number of days of real functional concern. Owners
should be encouraged to minimise umbrellas because of the
detrimental effect they have on historic surroundings and their
tendency to make the Piazza look ‘downmarket’.
Finally, regular training should be formalised for all market traders,
aimed at improved standards of quality and responsibility. This
should be a priority for any City Council Covent Garden Team, (there is
an existing City of Westminster West End Team) and ongoing
monitoring working with all market trader landlords.
Restaurant or café accessories, including servery, cutlery containers,
posts, signs, blackboards, litter bins, tills and other stored material
must be located inside the appropriate adjacent building or designed
for complete concealment. This policy should also be applied to all
drinks and food storage and display machines which must not be
allowed outside fully enclosed units. This applies in particular to the
growing number of such items next to the Market Café and Ponti’s
large kiosks in the Market Building.
Umbrellas and Undesirable Clutter
There has been a growth of temporary structures of all kinds in the
study area, reflecting unchecked commercial excesses. The majority
are of very poor and inappropriate design and should be removed.
The major category of temporary structures, often covered with crude
advertising material, are those relating to outdoor food and drink
establishments. Large umbrellas with advertising, canopies and plastic
wind screening should not be used. The functional arguments in favour
of umbrellas and coverings relate to the number of days protection
needed per year from intense sun and rain. However, Covent Garden has
the rare advantage of providing a wide range of outdoor seating under
the cover of magnificent buildings in addition to outdoor spaces,
providing excellent choices in all weather conditions.
Large umbrellas with signs and
advertising can block important
Stalls along the Jubilee Market
Hall need to be kept tidy to be
Only where it is demonstrably impossible to accommodate essential
operating equipment within an adjacent building can alternatives be
considered and only on environmental health or hygiene grounds can
any design that is not of minimum visual intrusion be used.
While it is understood that the CGMLP Furniture Design Guide is
intended, on completion, to resolve these issues, an acceptable
balance between commercial and aesthetic requirements has not yet
been agreed and a solution to the problem needs to be urgently
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Sketch view shows West Piazza without large umbrellas and accessories to tables and chairs areas and allowing clear views of the Listed Buildings, in contrast to photograph, right.
Large umbrellas advertising and accessories such as cables, lights, heaters and menu boards all tend to detract from views of the Listed Buildings and historic spaces.
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No advertising on parasols; no heaters; no barriers or corrals; no
menu boards; one design of chair used throughout the city;
each cafe chooses its own colour for the chair covers and the
only advertising allowed is on the back of these chair covers.
One standard form of umbrella is used without advertising and
the siting does not block attractive views of buildings.
The very popular entertainment, promotional, tourist and festival
events staged in the Piazza area have to date brought with them a
wide range of temporary accessories. These should always be of an
individually high quality of design and well maintained as well as
observing the principle of minimising clutter. For example, ad hoc
power supply and temporary cabling arrangements should be replaced
with permanent supply points to minimise cable runs and trip hazards.
Hoardings to development or empty sites or vacant properties should
be designed to contribute to the character of the Conservation Area.
In general trompe l’oeil architectural, decorated subjects work best.
Plain coloured hoardings look very intrusive against the richness of
historic buildings and also tend to look tatty, quickly. The City
Council’s Considerate Contractor Scheme provisions should apply.
Public Art
Art in public spaces has become a subject of increased professional
and public interest in recent years. At present the study area has very
few conventional works of art or examples of monuments. The Father
Thames fountain above the public toilets on the west piazza, the bell
and slab on the Southampton Street frontage of Jubilee Market
Buildings (at the time of writing under consideration as a site for a
replacement memorial to the Flower and Fruit Garden Traders) and the
Lutyens Clock in Southampton Street are the main modest examples.
Before the construction of the Victorian Market Buildings a sundial
provided a focal feature to the Piazza and some local consultees have
pointed out the lack of a focal meeting point landmark. Sites for such
major permanent structures are no longer desirable given the level of
pedestrian congestion.
We recommend that less conventional forms of public art, such as the
painting of temporary site hoardings (when required for
development), information plaques on local historic characteristics
and proposals for artistic lighting of certain craft features of buildings
etc. form the most appropriate opportunities in the study area.
Public Entertainment
The popularity and value of street entertainment to Covent Garden
contributes to much of its special character of tradition and vitality.
Fountain and sculpture as
part of West Piazza gateway
Bell sculpture is meaningless
to visitors and could be
amended to commemorate
the historic market traders.
Father Thames sculpture and
fountain in small public space
improvement above the
public toilets.
Licensed and unlicensed activity takes place at present and each can
present problems. The current management guidelines for the
licensed operations of street entertainers, administered by CGMLP’s
centre manager, appear adequate.
The principal problems associated with street performance include
crowd congestion (and opportunities for handbag theft), noise and
disturbance to the immediate community and variable artistic quality
of the performers and their accessories.
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Street entertainers on the
West Piazza licensed area
which is large enough for
crowds and is generally well
Punch and Judy at the May
Fayre in 2001 was an
acceptable temporary event.
James Street is not a
licensed area for performers
and crowds attracted in this
area cause serious
congestion and annoyance
to traders.
It is often difficult and unpopular with audiences to take serious
enforcement action against casual unlicensed buskers, that now
dominate James Street. The performance pitches must be
rationalised and clearly defined so that enforcement action is
somewhat easier to take against serious offenders. CGMLP
representatives have indicated a possible willingness to offer the
regular statue performers agreed pitches within the Market buildings.
Each agreed site should also display (perhaps as a footway flush
plaque), to the public and police/City Council inspectors, the details of
the licensed pitch (a plan and conditions) and the centre manager’s
regulations in the interests of clarity and good public relations.
We recommend further consideration be given to the creation of a
new licensed entertainment pitch near to the important
Southampton Street route junction to reinforce the strategy of
redistributing the pressure of crowding away from the north side of
the Piazza. Subject to proper consideration of controls that would
limit any nuisance to adjoining residents, this would provide a mutual
support for the proposed tables and chairs area at this point.
As with market trading, we recommend that training for performers
should be reviewed to ensure that they are aware of the need for
quality and can contribute to the public awareness of visitors about
the area.
The Royal Opera House outdoor events are highly appropriate forms of
public entertainment and should be continued, but however good the
performance the means of communicating should not add to
temporary clutter. The present arrangements for the screen could be
improved with a purpose designed solution.
Planting and Flowers
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the streets of Covent
Garden were enlivened with many plant pots and boxes along the top
of the shopfronts and hanging on the fronts of the buildings. The
advantage in having plant boxes on the ledges along the top of the
shop fascias and on the window cills is that they can introduce colour
and greenery to the streets without cluttering up the narrow
pavements with obstructive planters.
None of the streets in the Covent Garden Conservation Area was
intended to have trees planted in it. The planting of trees in London
streets only began in the early nineteenth century, on the model of the
Parisian boulevards, and such tree planting was a feature of several of
the nineteenth century road improvements in the metropolis such as
the Victoria Embankment and Shaftesbury Avenue.
It is an anachronism, however, to introduce trees into a seventeenth
century street layout which was not intended to have any, and the
scale and design of which is unsuited to large trees. It is
recommended that no more trees be planted in Covent Garden, and
that the uncoordinated tree-planting introduced in recent years, for
instance in James Street and Russell Street, be phased out as
specimens die or need replacement.
Most modern, indoor shopping centres use flower retailing as an
attraction and markof quality, placing them at important visible
locations, perhaps on subsidised rents. As part of the proposed traffic
managed area and subject to licensing constraints, four new sites
could act as route markers towards the Piazza from each of the
approach streets.
Hanging flower baskets can be an attractive feature of some building
types (as has been shown by the front of Porters in Henrietta Street
and Jubilee Market Hall arcade), if coordinated and maintained. Some
building types are too important for addition of baskets and these
include Bedford Chambers and the Royal Opera House Arcades, St.
Paul’s Church and the Central Market Buildings (all recent baskets
should be removed). Existing and neglected brackets and baskets on
isolated listed lamp columns just add to clutter. Unused hanging
baskets and brackets should be removed.
Sources of historic buildings information
Given the historical association of Covent Garden with flowers it is
surprising how few flower stalls are in the area. It may be that flowers
have become less practical for purchasers to handle in congested
Central London. However, more, well designed, small traditional
flower stalls would be an appropriate way of adding colour as well as
contributing commercial benefits.
Good examples of
interpretations of traditional
shop-front planting at first
floor level or above window
In addition to English Heritage, the Georgian Group, the Victorian
Society and the City of Westminster (see page 7), the following
organisations can offer relevant practical publications on topics
mentioned throughout this document.
The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, 37 Spital Square,
London E1 6DY
tel: 020 7377 1644 fax: 020 7247 5296 e-mail: [email protected]
The Twentieth Century Society, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ
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