History of 52 Broadwick Street

broadwick street history

Broadwick Street. Courtesy of John Snow Matrix

Broadwick Street in Soho was originally divided into two separate streets that extended across four estates. Building began in the eastern end in 1686, spreading gradually to the west and completed in 1736. It was during the end of the street’s construction in around 1720, that numbers 52-54 and 56-58 Broadwick Street were built. The two streets were originally called Broad Street and Edward Street (named after Edward Wardour, of the neighbouring Wardour Street) and were combined in 1936 to make the Broadwick Street we know today.

broadwick street 1916

Broadwick Street 1916. Courtesy of Worcester Vista

Initially the houses on Broadwick Street were occupied by the higher classes but with newer housing developments in the West End, the street gradually declined in fashion; housing tradesmen and lodging houses in the eighteenth century and finally tenement houses and workrooms in the mid-nineteenth century. The buildings themselves remained largely unaltered despite their changing residents until the 1930s when a large set of modern blocks were erected; giving the street its irregular character.

John Snow Broadwick Physician

John Snow. Courtesy of Data Vizblog

In the mid-nineteenth century Broadwick Street was the site of one of the most important medical discoveries relating to contagious diseases. Soho during the 1800s was a hotbed of disease due to its lack of proper sanitation. Contaminated water supplies led to regular cholera outbreaks and one of the most major outbreaks hit Broad Street on 31 August 1854. The outbreak killed a total of 700 people in the area and of the 49 houses on Broad Street, only 12 inhabitants escaped death. A parish enquiry was demanded and led by physician John Snow.

John Snow memorial pump

John Snow Memorial. Courtesy of Wikipedia

John Snow, who lived in nearby Sackville Street, rejected the common theory that bad smells spread diseases. Instead he spoke to local residents and managed to trace the origins of the outbreak to a public water pump, on what is now Broadwick Street. His microscopic examination of the water pump demonstrated how the disease had spread and he was able to disable the pump to stem the outbreak. Sadly it would be a long time before his discovery was accepted by scientific communities. Today Snow has been commemorated with a memorial water pump near the site of the original Broad Street pump.

John Snow memorial pump

William Blake. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Broadwick Street and its surrounding streets have not always been marred by their troubling history. Famous poet William Blake was born in a corner house on Broadwick Street. Carnaby Street which meets Broadwick Street on its eastern end, has a wonderful bohemian past, becoming the coolest destination associated with Swinging 60s London.

Each area of London has its unique history that’s waiting to be discovered and it’s always something we look out for when choosing an office location. We currently have a number of offices on Broadwick Street that are ready for you to enjoy.

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