Shaftesbury Avenue is a major street in the West End of London, named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, that runs in a north-easterly direction from Piccadilly Circus to New Oxford Street, crossing Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus. From Piccadilly Circus to Cambridge Circus it is in the City of Westminster and from Cambridge Circus to New Oxford Street it is in the London Borough of Camden.
Shaftesbury Avenue was built in the late 19th century (1877–86) by the architect George Vulliamy and the engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette to provide a north-south traffic artery through the crowded districts of St. Giles and Soho. It was also part of a slum clearance measure, to push impoverished workers out of the city centre although the street's construction was stalled by legislation requiring rehousing some of these displaced residents, overcrowding persisted. Charles Booth's Poverty Map shows the neighbourhood makeup shortly after Shaftesbury Avenue opened. It is generally considered the heart of London's West End theatre district, with the Lyric, Apollo, Gielgud and Queen's theatres clustered together on the north side of the road between Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross Road. At the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road there is also the large Palace Theatre. Finally, the north-eastern end of the road has another large theatre, called the Shaftesbury Theatre.
The Saville Theatre used to be on Shaftesbury Avenue, but this became a cinema in 1970, first known as ABC1 and ABC2, and since 2001 as Odeon Covent Garden. Another, the Curzon cinema, is located in the middle of the Avenue.
Between 1899-1902, #67 Shaftesbury Avenue was the location of the Bartitsu School of Arms and Physical Culture, which held the distinction of being the first commercial Asian martial arts training school in the Western world.
Shaftesbury Avenue is also the beginning of London Chinatown. The number of Chinese business on the avenue has been on the increase.
In the evening, street artists gather on the pavement outside the HQ of ICE - International Currency Exchange and Raphaels Bank (previously the home of Natwest) at the Piccadilly end of the Avenue and produce portraits for the tourists.
In popular culture
Shaftesbury Avenue was the birthplace of Cat Stevens.
Shaftesbury Avenue was a film location for and mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.
Shaftesbury Avenue is mentioned in the Dire Straits song Wild West End.
Shaftesbury Avenue is also mentioned in Eugene McGuinness' song Wendy Wonders.
Shaftesbury Avenue road sign is seen on the wall in Edd Chyna's workshop in early episodes of Wheeler Dealers
In the film 28 Days Later, the protagonist, Jim, was "riding a package from Farringdon to Shaftesbury Avenue and a car cut across [him]." This was the cause of his coma, from which he awoke 28 days later.
The 2015 graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst's Amazons includes several scenes set in Shaftesbury Avenue, in particular at the Bartitsu Club which was historically based at #67 Shaftesbury Ave.
- Shaftesbury Avenue, volumes 31 and 32: St James Westminster, Part 2, Survey of London, 1963
- London Sights and Attractions - Shaftesbury Avenue, talkingcities.co.uk, 2006
- Chinese business directory, Spectrum Radio, Aug 2007
- Hopes of immortality, New Statesman, Nov 2001
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- Shaftesbury Avenue London W1 — TourUK information
- Survey of London — detailed architectural history
- Lyric Theatre
- Apollo Theatre
- Gielgud Theatre
- Queen's Theatre
- Palace Theatre
- Shaftesbury Theatre
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