A forgotten remnant of old London, hidden beneath one of its busiest streets, there lies a tantalising glimpse into the lost history of Soho buried underneath the modern city.
Look down at the metal grate covering an anonymous looking traffic island in the middle of Charing Cross Rd where it intersects Old Compton Street – our home for the past 30 years – and you will see two tiled Victorian street names set into the wall below ground level bearing the faded name of Little Compton Street. Maps from the 18th Century show that Little Compton Street once connected Old and New Compton Streets, in between Greek and Crown Streets. The street level at that time was much lower, running at the height of where the basements are located in the buildings there now. In 1896 when there area was demolished in order to construct the new Charing Cross Rd, the street level was raised and an office block was built on what had been New Compton Street, consigning it to the past.
Please do note that the traffic island is literally in the middle of the Charing Cross Rd and you will have to be right in the middle of the traffic to be able to see the sign. History is one thing, serious injury quite another.
Lost in Soho.
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