Walk 90: Paddington & Marylebone Linear: Following in the steps of a Virgin

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 6.5 miles (10.5km)

Time to walk: This is a walk a bit, stop & look a bit, have a bit to eat & drink type walk so it could easily take half a day

Difficulty: City centre, so flat & all on hard paths

Parking: Use public transport

Public toilets: Cafes, bars etc

Map of the route:

 This is another walk inspired by the excellent series of books titled ‘London’s Hidden Walks’

Today we start at Warwick Avenue tube station & finish at Paddington Station, covering the Paddington & Marylebone areas, taking in Little Venice, & passing well known landmarks such as Marble Arch. It’s again one of those areas that we didn’t know that well &, by the time we finished the walk, realised we didn’t hardly know at all

We’ll look at each area as we go & there’s lots to tell so…

Lets Walk!

1. As mentioned above, our walk starts outside Warwick Avenue tube station. Warwick Avenue is named after Jane Warwick of Warwick Hall in Cumbria who, in 1778, married into a family that owned much of the land in this area…

…&, if you remember a certain Duffy song, we bet you’ll have it in your head all day

Before we get started look to the centre of the road to see what appears to be a large, green garden shed. This is one of 13 ‘Cabmen’s Shelters that can be found in London

These shelters first appeared in the mid 1870s when Sir George Armstrong decided that the city’s taxi drivers needed somewhere they could rest & get a decent meal & a cup of tea. They were also supposed to keep them out of the pubs! By 1914 there were over 60 across London, built at a cost of £200 each

The dimensions of the shelter were not allowed to be longer than a horse & cart. Although it contained a working kitchen, a shelter was designed to accommodate between 10 & 13 men. They came with seats & tables & were stocked with books & newspapers, usually donated by the publishers & other benefactors. Gambling, drinking & swearing were strictly forbidden. Today anyone can buy food & drink from one of them, but only cabbies are allowed inside

Well, we’ve not even started the walk yet & already we’ve learnt more about the history of this great city!

2. Facing the church with the large spire, turn left up Clifton Villas…

This is a very attractive area of London with wide, elegant streets & some beautiful houses. The road ends at a t-junction with Blomfield Road. Our route is left, but the large sign points out The Summerhouse to the right, which is an excellent canal-side restaurant

3. Turn left & walk along the side of the canal wall which is the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal that runs 137 miles between London & Birmingham, Built between 1793 & 1805, it originally stopped west of here at Brentford & this Branch was built in 1801 to bring the canal closer to the city. It leads to Paddington Basin which we’ll see towards the end of this walk

Paddington Basin was still a considerable distance from the River Thames, the Port of London & its massive trading docks of the 19th century. The Regent’s Canal was therefore built as a solution between 1812 & 1820 which passes through St John’s Wood, Regent’s Park, Camden, King’s Cross & Islington to reach the Thames at Limehouse

There’s several references to Richard Branson on this walk. Apparently he had always wanted to live on a canal boat &, when his car broke down in this road in 1971, he spoke to an Irishman who pointed out a boat he’d recently sold to a young woman. Branson subsequently moved in & later lived for many years on a larger boat here

4. Cross over the blue bridge. We are now passing from Maida Vale into Paddington…

On the right over the bridge is one of London’s lovely little provincial theatres…

The Canal Cafe Theatre is a 60 seat fringe theatre venue, specialising in comedy performances. The theatre is above the Bridge House pub & was founded as the residence for NewsRevue although the show annually transfers to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Other people that have performed here include The Mighty Boosh, The League of Gentlemen, Rhod Gilbert, & Shappi Khorsandi

5. Walk over the bridge & down to the towpath, continuing in the same direction we were walking previously, just on the other side of the canal

If you fancy an early cuppa, the boat above is the Waterside Cafe which gets decent reviews, especially for its bacon rolls! After your bacon roll you can also take the waters to visit London Zoo or Camden Lock Market

6. The Zoo’s for another day so keep walking on the tow path. The island on the left sits in a triangle of water called Browning’s Pool & used to be a parking area for barges making their way down the canals

If you have time & it’s there, have a look on the north side to find the quirky Puppet Theatre Barge

Movingstage was established in 1979 &, in 1982, after extensive touring, the company opened a theatre on a river barge. The theatre seats 55 & has been open for over 30 years. Each year during the summer, the floating theatre makes a tour of the river Thames

7. Continue as the canal turns right underneath the bridge…

There’s some strange noises coming from under the bridge. A sign tells us that although it may look like a wildlife jacuzzi, it’s actually a “bubble gate” which helps keep the canal clear of rubbish & debris by creating a natural bubble barrier that still allows the waterway traffic to move freely

8. Ahead now lies the monstrosity that’s the A40 Westway, the elevated section of which was built between 1965 & 1970 & runs for 3.5 miles. It caused massive controversy as hundreds of homes were demolished to accommodate it

The actual buildings, offices & restaurants round here are quite smart & they have tried to make the most of a bad job – you can even say you’ve had a game of ping-pong under the flyover

There’s been a few references to the Westway in the music industry. The Clash referred to it in their song “London’s Burning” & many bands have had their photos taken here, including The Jam for their album cover of “This is the Modern World”

9. Just under the flyover there’s a couple of blokes ‘eyeballing’ each other…

We absolutely loved these two statues which are incredibly life-like & are called ‘Walking Man & Standing Man’. Installed in 2004, they’re the work of artist Sean Henry

If you’re in the area it’s worth making a detour just to see them

10. It’s time to leave the canal behind so cross over the pedestrian bridge

On the other side walk through the Porteus Road Underpass – you can’t really miss it…

On the other side turn right alongside the Westway & then first left into the more sedate Porteus Road

11. At the t-junction turn right into St Mary’s Terrace & look out on the left for the impressively ornate, gothic entrance to St David’s Welsh Church

The church dates from 1890 & replaced London’s last thatched house. Operating from the first floor, it’s a rare example of a church offering Welsh language services in London. Walk through the arch to see the church. The downstairs now appears to house a school

12. At the end of the street walk across to the small green area in front of the Westway called St Mary’s Square. Easy to miss, on the grass are 2D statues of 3 people who live, have lived in this area. Firstly Michael Bond, creator of Paddington Bear who we’ll meet later…

Alan Turing of Bletchley Park code breaking fame…

…& Mary Seacole, a Jamaican business woman who set up the British Hotel behind the lines during the Crimean War. She described this as “a mess table & comfortable quarters for sick & convalescent officers”, & provided succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991 &, in 2004, was voted the greatest black Briton

13. Turn round & look at the large housing block that’s Fleming Court which is an fine example of post World War II social housing…

The name of the building gives a clue to its secret…on the right’s a plaque that commemorates the opening of the building by Sir Alexander Fleming who is famous for his discovery of penicillin at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington which we’ll see later. Fleming was already a world famous scientist when he open the building in 1948 & had been awarded the Nobel Prize

14. Further along the square’s St Mary’s on Paddington Green church. It’s the third church on this site & once formed a centrepiece of the ancient Paddington & Lilestone villages. The poet John Donne preached his first sermon in the original church, while painter William Hogarth was married in the second

To the left’s a very attractive public garden which used to be the churchyard of St Mary’s. Go inside & had a look around…

When the park was created in the 1890s hundreds of gravestones were moved against the walls & are still here

15. Walk out of the park beside the striking, modern curved building that’s the City of Westminster College, Paddington Green Campus which opened in January 2011. The £102m seven-storey building replaced a 1960s construction in the same location

It was designed by Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen & includes accessible green roof terraces

16. Opposite the college is another park, Paddington Green

Walk into the park & have a seat for a few moments. It really is a little oasis in the middle of a chaotic part of the city as the traffic roars by. Paddington Green is named after ‘Padda’s tun’. Padda may have been a Saxon landowner, or a 7th century King of Mercia

In medieval times this area was just fields that were controlled by the Abbott of Westminster until Henry VIII seized them. They were later returned to the church. The area was part of a BBC series ‘Paddington Green’ between 1998 & 2001. It explored the lives of some of the residents of this area

The first omnibus service in London ran from here to Bank in 1829 & No.13 was home to the office of early famous private detective Ignatius Paul Pollaky, also known as ‘Paddington Pollaky’. He originated from Hungary & served as a special in the Met. Some have suggested that he was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes

On the right side of the park, looking at the passing traffic, is a statue of Sarah Siddons

Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) was a Welsh born actress, best known for playing tragic parts. She was most famous for her portrayal of the Shakespearean character, Lady Macbeth & for famously fainting at the sight of the Elgin Marbles in London. The Sarah Siddons Society continues to present the Sarah Siddons Award in Chicago every year to a prominent actress

17. Exit the Green on the north east side, stopping to look at the large red building…

This was once the Paddington Green Children’s Hospital, founded in 1883. Look above the door to see the image of a woman nursing young children

18. Facing the Hospital turn right & walk to the end of the street & turn left onto the busy Harrow Road

On the left is Paddington Green Police Station which is well known for all the wrong reasons

The station is a conventional police station, open to members of the public, but also serves as the most important high security station in the UK. High profile terrorist suspects arrested across the UK are often taken to Paddington Green Police Station for interrogation, & holding until escorted to a Court of Law. Suspects who have been held there include members of the IRA, the British nationals released from Guantanamo Bay, & the 21 July 2005 London bombers.

On 10 October 1992, a bomb was exploded in a phone box outside the police station, injuring one person

19. We need to cross the street to Edgware Road tube station. It is possible to do this via the Joe Strummer Underpass…

John Graham Mellor, known by his stage name Joe Strummer was the co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist & lead vocalist of The Clash, a punk rock band that was formed in 1976 as part of the original wave of British punk. Their music also incorporated elements of reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, & rockabilly. The Clash were one of the most prominent of the emerging bands in the UK punk rock scene. They achieved success in the US, starting with London Calling (1979), & peaking with 1982’s Combat Rock. The Clash’s politicised lyrics, musical experimentation, & rebellious attitude had a far reaching influence on rock, & alternative rock in particular

20. Cross the busy Edgware Road…

The tube station opened in 1863 & formed part of the Metropolitan Railway which ran between Paddington & Farringdon & was the world’s first underground railway

On 7th July 2005 it saw sadder times, being the scene of a bomb exploding on a train., detonated by Mohammed Sidique Khan & killing 6 passengers. It was part of a co-ordinated attack that saw 52 people lose their lives in London that day

21. Turn right along the Edgware Road…we told you he would crop up again!

Edgware Road runs in a straight line for 10 miles from Marble Arch to Edgware & was once a Roman road (part of Watling Street). It’s rich in ethnic culture & is known for its distinctive & diverse communities & being the centre of Arabic London

This is a place to keep all your senses open as the sights, sounds & smells are exciting. There’s some ‘interesting’ English ones too…

22. Walk under the Marylebone Flyover on the left side of Edgware Road. Watch out for all the different food in the windows & men sitting outside using a hookah. Many Londoners call this area Little Beirut or Little Cairo. The first Arab immigrants came to London in the 19th century, mainly because of the trade of the Ottoman Empire

Look over the road to see one of London’s oldest pawn shops, Robertsons which was established in 1797

Robertson specialises in pawnbroking & the retailing of fine, pre-owned, jewellery, gold, diamonds, watches, antiques, silver & artwork. A family owned business up until the 1960s, Robertsons, as part of Suttons & Robertsons, is now one of the largest pawnbrokers in the UK. In partnership with TM Sutton, Robertsons proudly continues the firm’s tradition of quality, expertise, & service, which began over two hundred years ago. With their financial resources, they are able to quickly provide cash loans of up to £1 million pounds secured against clients’ valuables

23. If you’re feeling peckish there’s plenty of choice…

We’re going to move away from the noise of the Edgware Road for a while so turn left down the rather more sedate Crawford Place…

…& then right at the very attractive, gastropub,the Lord Wargrave into Brendon Street

The pub has a reputation in the barbecue world,  smoking all their meat in-house & claiming to probably do the best St Louis pork ribs in town. It’s also a whisky fan’s paradise, with over 200 different whiskies

24. Brendon Street is very attractive & colourful & full of late 18th century houses…

We’ve walked down here though to see the Coade stone keystones above the front doors on the left. Coade stone was often described as an artificial stone in the late 18th & early 19th centuries. It was used for moulding neoclassical statues, architectural decorations & garden ornaments that were both of the highest quality & remain virtually weatherproof today

The keystones here are as a result of the London Building Act of 1774 which, to prevent fires, banned any unnecessary wood on the outside of buildings. The new brick houses that were springing up were thought to be rather bland & the stones were an attempt to make them more attractive

They were produced by Eleanor Coade & her business partner carried on the process after her death until it died out in 1833. Today the stones sell for many thousands of pounds

25. Walk back to & continue down Crawford Place. We are now entering Marylebone. Look across to the left to see the Christian Union Almshouses which were founded in 1832 & purchased with donations from local organisations with the aim of providing an ‘asylum for poor & aged believers in full communion with some Protestant church’

26. Turn right down narrow Cato Street…

Immediately on the right’s a small building with a blue plaque. In 1820 this house was where one of the most notorious events in British political history took place …the Cato Street Conspiracy

The Cato Street Conspiracy was an attempt to murder all the British cabinet ministers & Prime Minister Lord Liverpool in 1820 by attacking them at the home of Lord Harrowby in Grosvenor Square. The group hoped to spark a revolution. The name comes from their meeting place near Edgware Road in London. The police had an informer & the plotters fell into a police trap & 13 were arrested, while one policeman was killed. Five conspirators were executed, & five others were transported to Australia

How widespread the Cato Street conspiracy was is uncertain. It was a time of unrest & rumours abounded. Chase notes that, “the London-Irish community & a number of trade societies, notably shoemakers, were prepared to lend their support, while unrest & awareness of a planned rising were widespread in the industrial north & on Clydeside

27. Walk through the archway at the end of Cato Street…

…turning left along Harrowby Street & then left again after The Duke of York pub up Shouldham Street

The large building on the right’s Seymour Leisure Centre. It was built in 1935 & relates back to an earlier time when the Bishop of London led the Baths & Wash House Committee with the aim of encouraging greater health & hygiene amongst the poorer classes. The committee was originally founded in the 1840s when cholera was still rife

Walk along Bryanston Place past the front door of the Leisure Centre & then turn left up Wyndham Place

28. Ahead in the distance is the towering spire of St Mary’s church in Bryanston Square

This is an extremely wealthy part of the city with many of the surrounding streets taking their names from the landowner, the Portman Estate. Sir William Portman of Somerset acquired 270 acres in 1532 adjacent to the north west of the City of London. In 1533 Henry VIII gave him a wardship & he was one of the administrators of the will of Catherine of Aragon

The estate stretched from today’s Oxford Street to the Regents Canal &, at that time the family owned Bryanston, a village in Dorset, hence the square name. The Portman Estate, is still held by his descendant, Christopher Portman who’s wealth is estimated to be in excess of £1 billion

29. Walk round the square to the right of Mary’s to the ornate entrance to the former St Mary’s Le Bone Western National School

The school dates back to 1825, but was heavily damaged by German bombs in 1944. It closed as a school in 1969

Look at the left hand side of the building where there’s the large emblem of St John’s Ambulance (it needs a retouch of paint). The medieval Knights of St John of Jerusalem used to own the land around here. The order was forced out of the Middle East at the end of the Crusades & then out of their base in Malta by Napoleon

The St John’s Ambulance came out of a movement in the 1870’s & adopted the Maltese Cross that the Knights wore on their clothes & shields

30. Continue round the square to York Street & look at the large red building on the other side of the road…

There’s another large emblem on this building showing it to have been York Street Ladies Residential Chambers of 1892 which was the second venture undertaken by the Ladies’ Residential Chambers Company, of which Agnes Garrett was a driving force. Its purpose was to provide purpose built accommodation for ‘educated working women’

The company had successfully launched the Ladies’ Residential Chambers in Chenies Street in 1889 & lost no time in commissioning Thackeray Turner, brother-in-law of Christiana Herringham, one of the company’s directors, to plan for another set of chambers, to be erected in York Street, just south of the Marylebone Road.

The York Street Chambers were twice as expensive to build as those in Chenies Street & have not suffered the indignity of the Second World War bombing that destroyed much of the latter’s original detail. Today York Street Chambers still looks handsome, both outside and inside

31. Walk back across the square round the other side of St Mary’s Church. This church doesn’t open very often so we were excited that the door was open…

St Mary’s, Bryanston Square was built as one of the Commissioners’ or Waterloo churches. These are Anglican churches built with money voted for by Parliament as a result of the Church Building Acts of 1818 & 1824

Unfortunately despite the door being open the church was not!

32. Retrace your steps round to the front of the church & turn left along Crawford Street. The large red building on the left’s used to be the Parish Hall of St Mary’s

Look for the foundation stone to the left of the door  which says it was laid by Princess Christian. Princess Christian, born Helena was the largely forgotten third daughter & fifth child of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert

In the early 1860s, she began a flirtation with Prince Albert’s German librarian, Carl Ruland. After the Queen found out in 1863, she dismissed Ruland, who returned to his native Germany. Three years later, on 5 July 1866, Helena married the impoverished German Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein. The couple remained in Britain, in calling distance of the Queen, who liked to have her daughters nearby, & Helena along with her youngest sister, Princess Beatrice, became the Queen’s unofficial secretary. However, after Queen Victoria’s death on 22 January 1901, Helena saw relatively little of her surviving siblings

33. Cross the road & stop at the shop on corner of Montagu Street at Meacher, Higgins & Thomas which is allegedly the oldest pharmacy in London, founded in 1814

The sign in the window advertises that ‘toilet requisites & photographic chemicals’ are on offer. What we were more impressed by though was the large iron lamp outside. Because each side is made up of different glass, it shines different colours as you walk round it

 

34. Walk down Montagu Street & cross over into Montagu Square…

Immediately on the right’s a blue plaque outside No.34 stating that John Lennon once lived here. It’s got more of a story to tell than just about him though…

It was Ringo Starr who first moved here in 1965 &, after he left, Paul McCartney used it as a recording studio & made the demo for Eleanor Rigby here. Other members of the London underground scene also recorded at No. 34

Ringo still held the lease when Jimi Hendrix moved in in 1967. Then in 1968 John Lennon & Yoko Ono moved in after Lennon split from his wife Cynthia. The naked photograph of the pair was shot here for the album Two Virgins &, after a police raid in 1968, Lennon was convicted for the possession of cannabis

Ringo was forced to sell the lease after this event. Yoko Ono returned to unveil the plaque in 2010, this time fully clothed!!

35. Carry on along beautiful Montagu Square – the premises here go for a pretty price!

At the junction turn right into George Street, walking back towards Edgware Road again. As you pass it, look down Great Cumberland Place to see Marble Arch in the distance – we’ll have a closer look shortly

36. On reaching the Edgware Road again, turn left & continue southward

We’ve left high-class society a couple of hundred yards away & are now immediately back in the hub of the world sights, sounds & smells

37. Cross the road & walk down Connaught Street, turning left into the right side of Connaught Square. Immediately we’re back into high society…

Connaught Square was the first square of city houses to be built in the Bayswater area. It was named after the Duke of Gloucester (also known as the Earl of Connaught), who had a house nearby. The current appearance of the square dates from the 1820s

Stop outside No. 29. In October 2004, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair & his wife Cherie purchased this house for a reported £3.5 million. In many ways Blair’s house is similar to 10 Downing Street, having even been used as a replica for the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury during the filming of the TV series “The Alan Clark Diaries”

Since Blair’s resignation in 2007, there has been controversy over security arrangements in the square, specifically over the cost of providing high-level security 24 hours a day. The Blairs also bought the mews house at the rear to combine the two together causing significant unrest with the neighbours

That man, Richard Branson began the origins of his Virgin empire from a basement flat in the square in 1967 where he produced his magazine ‘Student’. He began this whilst at Stowe School, just down the road from Northampton, & it became a massive hit. The magazine didn’t go down well with the Church Commissioners who owned the freehold to the flat & Branson was forced to move out – we’ll follow in his tracks again shortly!

38. Walk out of the square on the south side…

…looking for a passage down into Frederick Close to have a quick look at some gorgeous mews houses

The gardens at the end are part of the large graveyard used by St George’s Church in Hanover Square & contain a few notable graves

39. Walk back through the passage & directly opposite down Connaught Place…

Again there are some extremely grand properties down this street

Indeed, the one at the end has a blue plaque marking where Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Winston, lived between 1883 & 1892

40. We promised that you’d see Marble Arch again so turn right & walk over towards it, stopping on the island in the middle of the road. There’s something here that most people miss & just walk over every day…

This is the site of the Tyburn Gallows. In 1571, the Tyburn Tree was erected near the modern Marble Arch. The “Tree” or “Triple Tree” was a novel form of gallows, consisting of a horizontal wooden triangle supported by three legs (an arrangement known as a “three-legged mare” or “three-legged stool”). Several felons could thus be hanged at once, & the gallows were used for mass executions, such as on 23 June 1649 when 24 prisoners (23 men & one woman) were hanged simultaneously

The Tree stood in the middle of the roadway, providing a major landmark in west London & representing a very obvious symbol of the law to travellers. After executions, the bodies would be buried nearby or, in later times, removed for dissection by anatomists. The crowd would sometimes fight over a body with surgeons, driven by fear that dismemberment could prevent the resurrection of the body on Judgement Day

The gallows seem to have been replaced several times, probably because of reasons of wear. After some acts of vandalism, in October 1759 it was decided to replace the permanent structure with new moving gallows until the last execution, probably carried out in November 1783

41. Cross at the pelican to have a look at the magnificent Marble Arch

…which is a 19th century, white marble faced, triumphal arch designed by John Nash in 1827 to be the state entrance to the ceremonial courtyard of Buckingham Palace. It stood near the site of what is today the three bayed, central projection of the palace containing the well known balcony. In 1851 it was relocated following the widening of Park Lane in the early 1960s

Historically, only members of the Royal Family & the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery are permitted to pass through the arch. This happens only in ceremonial processions

42. The statue of the horse’s head is massive & spectacular

Called ‘Still Water’ it’s a 2011 sculpture Nic Fiddian-Green. The 33 feet piece was commissioned to replace an earlier & similar, but slightly smaller, work ‘Horse at Water’. This was installed at the same site temporarily, but then moved to Daylesford in Gloucestershire, the home of Sir Anthony & Lady Carole Bamford, who had commissioned it

43. Close by, near the fountain is another interesting piece…

Danse Gwenedour by Bushra Fakhoury depicts the human form in a celebratory fashion, inspired by the dance performed by French villagers in Bretagne. Her work is mostly based on myths, fables, folklore, carnivals, parades & created by observing, & studying people in their daily activities

44. Walk down the right side of Bayswater Road…

London’s first horse-drawn tramway used to run along here in the 1860s & was operated by George Train who apparently provided the inspiration for Phileas Fogg in ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’

Stop outside the Tyburn Convent

This is home to ‘The Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre’ which is a Catholic order of Benedictine Nuns founded by Marie Adele Garnier in Paris in 1901. The order is dedicated to Catholic martyrs & the 105 of them who died for their faith on Tyburn Tree

The Sisters never venture out of the Convent. There’s a nice inscription on the stone outside

45. Walk a little further & stop at the plaque outside No. 23 Hyde Park Place…

The plaque celebrates that the building was used as a club known as ‘Oranjehaven’ set up in World War II by Queen Wilhelmina for Dutch people who had fled the German occupation of their country & joined the Allied Forces

46. Turn right up Albion Street…

It’s time we caught up with that Richard Branson fella again. After he moved out of Connaught Square he moved into No.44 along here

Across the road at No.18 was where William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair, lived in the 1830s

47. At the end of Albion Street turn right into Connaught Street…

This is a street full of very exclusive, individual shops & cafes. The locals call this area Connaught Village & it’s well worth spending some time window shopping

Look for an entrance through into exclusive Archery Close. The mews house that the Blairs bought is along here. There are 24 properties in Archery Close, used for residential purposes. The Mews originally provided stable/coach house accommodation for the larger houses in Connaught Square

A high explosive bomb fell on the west side of Connaught Square in 1940, nearby to Archery Close & presumably the row of terrace houses were rebuilt as result in the 40s & 50s

48. Come back out of the close & cross the road down Dorchester Place…

…to reach the large oval. Turn left beside Oxford Square. Like many of the squares in this area they’re private for the residents only & kept under lock & key

Because they’re private these squares are extremely well kept

49. At the end turn right down Hyde Park Crescent to arrive at St John’s Church where, once again, our old friend Richard Branson turns up again!

St John’s is the second oldest church in the area, being consecrated in 1832. So what’s the link with Richard? After he moved into Albion Street he ran the ‘Student’ magazine from the crypt!

The police paid him a visit at the church in 1969 to warn him that the magazine’s adverts for venereal disease treatment were against the Indecent Advertisement Act & Venereal Disease Act. Branson ignored the police & was arrested & charged. His barrister, John Mortimer, who created ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ helped him escape prison & be fined £7. The law was later changed & Branson received an apology from the Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling

50. Continue north up Southwark Street, crossing Sussex Gardens to reach Star Street…

…& then across into Bouverie Place. After roughly 50 yards turn right into St Michael’s Street. On the corner’s the Queen of Sheeba restaurant which claims to be the first Yemeni restaurant in London

51. We’re nearing the end of this walk so if you fancy a spot of liquid refreshment we can highly recommend the classic Victorian pub at the end of this street. This is the Royal Exchange & the small interior (including the chandelier) is beautiful

Suitably refreshed walk up Sale Place to reach Praed Street which is one of the main streets that runs through Paddington

52. Walk straight over the road between the two orange buildings to arrive at Paddington Basin which we mentioned at the start of this walk as the end of the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal

The basin is now the centre of a major redevelopment as part of the wider Paddington Waterside scheme. A consortium in partnership with the former British Waterways (now Canal & River Trust) began work in January 2000 by draining the basin

Merchant Square is located around a central square. A life size sculpture in memory of Sir Simon Milton was unveiled in September 2014 by The Rt Hon. Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government. The sculpture, designed by Bruce Denny, follows Sir Simon’s pivotal role in facilitating the regeneration of Paddington Basin. The basin is known for its ingenious pedestrian bridges, such as ‘The Rolling Bridge’ & ‘The Fan Bridge’, which opened in autumn 2014 & moves with the motion of a Japanese hand fan

53. Walk back to Praed Street passing the rather decorative old pub building on the corner which is now a Greek restaurant

This was once a Trumans pub. Trumans Brewery in Brick Lane in East London was the largest brewers in the world at the end of the 19th century. However the business declined & the brewery closed in 1989

54. Turn right along Praed Street…

This is another really diverse street with many different kinds of shops & restaurants to choose from

55. On the right’s St Mary’s Hospital which we referred to earlier as the place where Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. The laboratory where he discovered penicillin has been restored to its cramped condition of 1928 & incorporated into a museum about the discovery & his life & work. The museum is open to the public

St Mary’s Hospital first opened its doors to patients in 1851, the last of the great voluntary hospitals to be founded. As well as penicillin, heroin was also discovered here. The hospital site incorporates the private Lindo wing where several celebrity & royal births have taken place.  The museum is a member of the London Museums of Health & Medicine

56. Almost next door to the hospital’s the looming vastness of Paddington Station

Turn right down the slope to enter the station itself

Paddington has been the London terminus of the Great Western Railway & its successors since 1838. Much of the station dates from 1854 & was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was first served by London Underground trains in 1863, as the original western terminus of the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground railway

The children’s book character Paddington Bear was named after the station. In the books, by Michael Bond, he is found at the station, having come from “deepest, darkest Peru” & with a note attached to his coat reading “please look after this bear, thank you”. A statue of him by Marcus Cornish, based on the original drawings by Peggy Fortnum, is located under the clock on platform 1

Close by is another statue, “The Unknown Soldier” which is a memorial to the 3312 men & women of the Great Western Railway who gave their lives during the wars. It’s actually one of London’s talking statues so be sure to scan the barcode

Paddington Station is where our walk ends. It’s once again one of those walks that shows there’s so much of this great city that we didn’t know, or hadn’t seen. The thing is, even in this walk, we’ve probably only just scratched the surface & there’s even more to see & learn in this area

It’s a great, happening part of London – just ask Sir Richard Branson!

Go Walk!