Shaftesbury Avenue is an important street in the West End of London running in a north-easterly direction from Piccadilly Circus to New Oxford Street. On its way it crosses Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus. An interesting fact about the street is that it is located in the City of Westminster when it runs from Piccadilly Circus to Cambridge Circus and it is in the London Borough of Camden during its run from Cambridge Circus to New Oxford Street. It is one of the few streets in London that feature so many attractions and is visited by millions of people every year. When you walk north from Piccadilly Circus, Soho will be on your left and you will find Chinatown on your right. The street compares well with the Broadway area of New York considering the number of theatres that feature popular shows, plays and musicals. There are restaurants all around aimed at providing delicious food suiting all tastes and budgets. It is a place where different cultures meet and co-exist. The street is named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury.
Shaftesbury Avenue was originally built in the 19th century to form a north-south conduit through the crowded districts of St Giles and Soho for the high volume of traffic that goes through. It is commonly seen as the heart of London’s West End theatre district as it is home to a large number of theatres that include the Lyric Theatre, the Apollo Theatre, Gielgud Theatre and Queen’s Theatre that are all clustered together on its northern side between Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross Road. The large Palace Theatre is located at the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road and the Shaftesbury Theatre is located on the north-eastern end of the road. The other theatres on or around Shaftesbury Avenue include Harold Pinter Theatre, Piccadilly Theatre, Prince of Wales Theatre, Criterion Theatre, The Jermyn Street Theatre, Bruckpaul and The Prince Edward Theatre. It can easily be described as the best street for theatres. It is quite a long street and it provides an easy access to Chinatown and to the Soho area. There are plenty of theatres and pubs in the area. Some of the little-known facts about Shaftesbury Avenue are given below.
Shaftesbury Avenue was the birthplace of Cat Stevens. It has been mentioned in and has been used as a film location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. This area has been mentioned in the Dire Straits song “Wild West End”. It has also been mentioned in Eugene McGuinness’ song “Wendy Wonders’. In the early episodes of Wheeler Dealers, you can see a Shaftesbury Avenue road sign on the wall in Ed China’s workshop. Shaftesbury Avenue also features in the film 28 Days Later, in which the protagonist Jim (Cillian Murphy) is shown as riding with a package from Farringdon to Shaftesbury Avenue when a car suddenly cuts across him due to which he goes into a coma and he wakes up from the coma 28 days later. You can also see several scenes set in Shaftesbury Avenue especially at the Bartitsu Club in the 2015 graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs Pankhurst’s Amazons. The club was historically based at No 67 Shaftesbury Avenue.
The Saville Theatre was located on Shaftesbury Avenue until 1970 when it was turned into a cinema that was first named as ABC1 and then as ABC2. In 2001, it was renamed as Odeon Covent Garden. Shaftesbury Avenue is also home to the Curzon cinema which is located in its middle and between the years 1899 and 1902, the Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture that held the distinction of being the first commercial Asian martial arts training school in the Western world, was located at No 67 Shaftesbury Avenue.
Hotels of all categories are available in this area that are designed to suit guests having different needs and budgets but the most convenient, comfortable and friendly one is The Piccadilly London West End Hotel which is very popular with tourists and others. It is a luxury hotel offering a peaceful environment although being located in the middle of all the hectic activities in the heart of the city. It is strategically located close to most attractions of central London.
Chinese businesses have been rising considerably over the past few years in Shaftesbury Avenue as it is also the beginning of London Chinatown. The pavement outside the HQ of ICE – International Currency Exchange and Raphael’s Bank where NatWest was located previously at the Piccadilly end of the Avenue gets filled up with street artists who produce portraits for the tourists.
Shaftesbury Avenue is an important street that is particularly associated with the West End theatres with most of them being at the Piccadilly end. Two of the largest theatres, Queen’s Theatre and Palace Theatre, are located on this street with the latter overlooking Cambridge Circus at Charing Cross.
Shaftesbury Avenue is located at a crucial place in London that is the hub of all attractions and activities associated with this area. Moreover, there are a large number of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs in the area.