Piccadilly Circus is one of the most iconic sites in the West End. Amidst the glittering lights and the tourist hustle and bustle, you’ll find a gateway not only into the West End high street hub of London, but the heart of an entire city. Piccadilly is a sparkling personality in the centre of the city and has a long spanning history full of glitz, glamour and intrigue. If you’re staying at hotels near Piccadilly Circus, then why not learn a little more about the area in which you’re staying. Below is a little history, alongside the attractions, restaurants and bars you can enjoy in the area.
History of Piccadilly Circus
With records dating back to 1626, Piccadilly Circus was the junction which connected to Piccadilly. This road was named so after the house of a shoemaker named Robert Baker. Robert Baker was famous for making a type of shoe called Picadilles, which become well known in the London area. The tube station named Piccadilly Circus was opened in 1906, giving way to both the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. The area was notorious for being heavily congested, in part due to its linking to the West End and entertainment districts of the city, and so in the 1960’s the area was redeveloped to allow a faster traffic flow. Nowadays, the area is well known for its wide range of neon signs and for being a commercial hub both in the entertainment and customer service industries.
Once a controversial attribute to Central London due to the use of a nude figure, the statue of Anteros was built in 1892 in respect for the philanthropy of one Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury who replaced child labour with school education. The Shaftesbury memorial has gone through several renovations throughout the centuries and was removed during the Second World War’s Blitz bombings. The statue is iconic to London now, the figure of the winged Anteros now being used as the emblem for the London based Evening Standard newspaper.
The Criterion Theatre is based on Piccadilly Circus and is well known as one of the most iconic West End Theatres. Home to a new writing group and countless famous West End plays, the Criterion Theatre is a well-known theatre which started its life as a concept for a music hall, but when construction begun it was decided it would have more longevity in the centre of the city if it were a theatre. Dating back to the 1870’s, the theatre has staged theatre plays as wide ranging as the Thirty-Nine Steps and the farcical Play About a Bank Robbery.
The London Pavilion is currently used as a shopping arcade as part of the Trocadero Centre but has a long history of being a music hall in the 19th century, before being converted into a cinema. This cinema has premiered films as wide ranging as the first James Bond film Dr No, to the Curse of Frankenstein.
Shops near Piccadilly
If you are staying in corporate accommodation in the London West End, then you might be able to sneak off to do a little souvenir shopping. Piccadilly Circus is perfect for this, it’s surrounding area filled to the brim with tourist attractions and department stores. The most notable shop is the well known department store Fortnum and Mason’s, which is located just off of Piccadilly Circus and gives customers a quintessentially British experience.