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The Strand is a street in the City of Westminstermarker, Londonmarker, Englandmarker. It currently starts at Trafalgar Squaremarker and runs east to join Fleet Streetmarker at Temple Barmarker, which marks the boundary of the City of Londonmarker at this point, though its historical length has been longer than this. In former times the eastern part of the Strand was part of the Liberty of the Savoy andhad administrative autonomy, distinct from both the City of London to the east and the City of Westminster to the west.

Two tube stations were once named Strand: the former Piccadilly lineStrand tube station, now called Aldwychmarker but no longer in use, and the former "Strand tube station" on the Northern Line now part of Charing Cross tube stationmarker. "Strand Bridge" was also the name given to Waterloo Bridgemarker during construction, it was renamed for its official opening on the second anniversary of the victory.



Strand derives its name from the Old English word for "shore" or "river bank". (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Faroese, Finnish, German and Dutch have all derived their word for "beach" from the same Germanic root; many beaches in Ireland are still called "strands".)

The street is most commonly referred to as The Strand although the official street name is actually just "Strand".Hence, officially speaking, "377 Strand" is used and not "377, The Strand", although both forms are commonly seen in postal addresses.

The modern Strand follows the course of Akeman Street, a Roman road running parallel to the river, towards Chiswickmarker from Roman London. Together with Aldwychmarker, it has been a major settlement area since Saxon times outside of the old Roman city walls. In the Middle Ages it became the principal route between the separate settlements of the City of Londonmarker (the civil and commercial centre) and the Royal Palace of Westminstermarker (the national political centre). In the archaeological record, there is considerable evidence of occupation to the north of Aldwych, but much along the former foreshore has been covered by rubble from the demolition of the Tudor Somerset Place, a former Royal residence, to create a large platform for the building of the first Somerset House, in the 17th century.


Starting in the medieval period, several palaces inhabited by bishops and royal courtiers were constructed on the Strand, mostly located on the south side, with their own river gates and landings directly on the Thames. Those on the south side of the street were, from east to west:

On the north side of the street were:
  • Cecil Housemarker, also called Exeter House or Burghley House, was on the north side of the Strand; it was built in the 16th century by Lord Burghley as an expansion of an existing Tudor house.
  • Bedford House.
  • Wimbledon House.

Apart from the rebuilt Somerset House, all these grand buildings are now gone, and are overlaid by later streets lined by humbler tenements. These were built by property developers on the sites of the old mansions, from the seventeenth century onwards. From this time the area acquired a dissolute reputation and became notable for its low taverns and cheap women.

Later history

In the 19th century much of the Strand was rebuilt and the houses to the south no longer backed onto the Thames, separated from the river by the Victoria Embankmentmarker constructed 1865-70. This moved the river some further away. The Strand became a newly fashionable address and many avant-garde writers and thinkers gathered here, among them Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Stuart Mill, Herbert Spencer and the scientist Thomas Henry Huxley. 142 Strand was the home of radical publisher and physician John Chapman, who not only published many of his contemporaries from this house during the 1850s, but also edited the Westminster Review for 42 years. The American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was also a house guest. Virginia Woolf also writes about the Strand in several of her essays, including "Street Haunting: A London Adventure." T.S. Eliot alludes to the Strand in his 1905 poem "At Graduation" and John Masefield also refers to a "jostling in the Strand" in his well-known poem "On Growing Old".


Strand, by Coutts Bank (May 2001)
The Strand was the hub of Victorian theatre and nightlife. However, redevelopment of the East Strand and the construction of the Aldwychmarker and Kingswaymarker roads in the 1890s and early years of the twentieth century led to the loss of the Opera Comiquemarker, the Globemarker, the Royal Strand Theatremarker and the nearby Olympic Theatremarker. Other lost theatres on Strand include the Gaiety Theatremarker (closed in 1939, building demolished in 1957), Terry's Theatremarker (converted into a cinema 1910, demolished 1923), and the Tivoli (closed 1914 and later demolished; in 1923 the Tivoli Cinema opened on the site and was closed and demolished in 1957 to make way for Peter Robinson's store).

Surviving theatres include the Adelphi Theatremarker, the Savoy Theatremarker and Vaudeville Theatremarker and, closely adjacent in Wellington Street, the Lyceum Theatremarker.

Popular culture

The Strand is the subject of a famous music hall song Let's All Go Down the Strand (words and music by Harry Castling and C. W. Murphy), which dilates on its merits as a place of entertainment and relaxation as compared to the Rhineland:
One night a half 'a dozen touristsSpent the night together in Trafalgar Square.A fortnight's tour on the Continent was planned,And each had his portmanteau in his hand.Down the Rhine they meant to have a picnicTil' Jones said, "I must decline--""Boys you'll be advised by meto stay away from Germany--What's the good a' going down the Rhine."

Let's all go down the Strand -- Have a banana!Let's all go down the Strand!

I'll be the leader, you can march behind.Come with me and see what we can find!Let's all go down the Strand -- Have a banana!Oh! What a happy land.That's the place fer fun and noise,All among the girls and boys.So let's all go down to the Strand.
The song has inspired a version by the group Blur. The lines "Let's all go down the Strand" and "Have a banana!" are also referenced by English comedian Bill Bailey during his stage routine on Cockney music .

John Betjeman used the title of the song for a television documentary made for Associated-Rediffusion in 1967, and in the same year Margaret Williams for a stage comedy. The Strand was also the locale where Burlington Bertie, the hero of another popular music hall song, sauntered along "like a toff".

The Strand Magazine was named after the street, and began publishing in 1891. A BBC World Service arts and culture radio series is called The Strand. The World Service broadcasts from Bush House situated on the Strand.

Other notable buildings

Old Twinings Shop on the Strand


St. Clement Danes Church, near Fleet Street
Two of the churches on the Strand now stand on island sites amidst the traffic. St. Clement Danesmarker is believed to date back to the 9th century, but the present building is mainly a 17th century work by Sir Christopher Wren. St Mary-le-Strandmarker was designed by James Gibbs and completed in 1717, to replace one demolished by Protector Somerset for building material for his adjacent Somerset Housemarker.

See also


  • Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson (1968) The Lost Theatres of London. Rupert Hart-Davis.

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