The popular illustrated monthly, the Strand Magazine, was founded by Sir George Newnes in 1891. It included fiction by writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells and P. Woodhouse.
Illustrators employed by the journal included Alexander Boyd, Sidney Sime, Henry M. Brock, H. M. Bateman, Leonard Raven-Hill, George Stampa, Lewis Baumer and A. Wallis Mills. The Strand Magazine ceased publication in 1950.
The Strand’s name was first recorded in 1185 and derives from the Old English word meaning ‘bank’ or ‘shore’. The road formerly ran close to the Thames but now finds itself lying inland as a result of the construction of the Victoria Embankment. Several maps still give the Strand as the name of the district that everyone else knows as Covent Garden.
Forming part of the connection between the early twin centres of Westminster and the City of London, the Strand has been a place of settlement for centuries. John of Gaunt’s Savoy Palace was destroyed in the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 and is now the site of a sumptuous hotel.
Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, built a riverside mansion on the Strand in 1547, which later served as a royal residence. Somerset House was rebuilt after 1775 and has been put to several purposes by the government, most famously as the central record office for births, marriages and deaths. The buildings are now used by a variety of institutions, including the Courtauld Gallery.
In the late 1820s King’s College was founded on a site next to Somerset House, and Simpson’s‑in-the-Strand opened as a ‘cigar divan’.
John Nash planned the West Strand Improvements in 1830, which included 449 Strand, with its diagonally-placed pepperpot towers, shown in the photograph below.
In 1867 Karl Marx described the Strand as “a main thoroughfare which gives strangers an imposing idea of the wealth of London” (Capital, Volume One), but he went on to point out that behind its grand institutions lay streets teeming with the city’s underclass.
Nearly 500 cramped dwellings were pulled down to make way for the temple-like buildings of the Royal Courts of Justice in the 1870s. To the west of the courts, more tenements were demolished when the sweeping curve of the Aldwych was created in 1905.
In the early 20th century the Strand was pre-eminently an entertainment zone: it had more theatres than any other street in London, several notable restaurants (such as Romano’s and the Tivoli) and large numbers of music halls and pubs. It was the place where Londoners of all classes went for a good night out.
The Strand is presently home to three theatres: the Savoy, Adelphi and Vaudeville. The Lyceum is just around the corner on Wellington Street and the Novello Theatre (formerly the Strand) is on Aldwych.
Much of the Strand was lined with blocks of offices over the course of the 20th century, of which the most imposing is the Shell-Mex building of 1931 – now owned by the controversial German property tycoon Henning Conle.
Other notable presences on the Strand include the George and Coal Hole public houses, Twinings’ 300-year-old shop, Coutts bank – which has been here since before the foundation of the Bank of England – and Stanley Gibbons – “the home of stamp collecting since 1856.”
The Strand Magazine - History
Popular literature, such as the Sherlock Holmes stories, came of age along with another 19 th -century innovation: the popular magazine. Magazines had existed in some form since the 18 th century, but they had never been as cheap or as generally available. This new medium demanded art forms that could be consumed in small bites: on a train trip, or during a few leisure moments after a busy day. In earlier times, literacy generally extended only as far as the middle class, but, with the Education Act of 1870, elementary-school education became compulsory across England. Changing labor laws had given workers more leisure time and disposable income. Increased train travel, especially the advent of daily commuting, triggered a demand for light reading material. Typesetting, although still a complex and labor-intensive technology, had improved to the point where printing houses could mass-produce high-quality material that included photographs and engravings. Finally, the onerous Stamp Tax had been reduced, making printed material more widely affordable.
Strand Magazine typesetters at work
George Newnes, owner of The Strand and Tit-bits
Publishers quickly learned to target their publications to the needs of particular segments of the population. Working-class people with an elementary-school education read "penny weeklies" such as Tit-bits, which contained short articles, bits of interesting information (what we might call "sound-bites"), and serialized stories. For the middle class, especially those with intellectual aspirations, magazines provided more in-depth articles on politics, science, history, economics, and the arts, as well as fiction that appealed to slightly more developed tastes than what appeared in Tit-bits.
The Strand Magazine - History
Founded in January 1891, The Strand Magazine, named after a fashionable London street, was aimed squarely at its target audience's middle-class tastes. A typical issue might feature illustrated articles of scientific and historical interest, a series of humorous cartoons on a theme, pictures of famous people at different ages (from toddler to adult), interviews with celebrities, a treatment of a controversial issue of the day, and one or more pieces of fiction. The factual articles were not too complex, and the fiction tended to feature a mystery or "twist" to keep the reader interested. Nevertheless, the articles were skillfully edited and stylishly presented in a sophisticated format. Whoever bought a copy of The Strand felt like a true Londoner.
Conan Doyle wanted fame and success as a writer, and he went about achieving it more systematically and shrewdly than he had approached his medical career. First, he hired a literary agent, A. P. Watt, the very first man to advertise that sort of service. Then, he thought long and hard about what might appeal to his audience. Fearing that serialized stories would be of limited use to a reader who missed an issue, Conan Doyle decided to write stories that could be read independently but whose central character would be the same. Sherlock Holmes, who had already been the hero of Conan Doyle's novels A Study in Scarlet and Sign of the Four, seemed like a good candidate for such a series. Conan Doyle's agent submitted "A Scandal in Bohemia" to The Strand. It was accepted, and Conan Doyle was contracted to write a total of six stories featuring his detective.
Because of the very small success achieved by his first two Holmes novels, Conan Doyle's expectations were low. When "A Scandal in Bohemia" appeared in July 1891, during The Strand Magazine's first year, it was an instant hit. In assuring his own future, Conan Doyle also assured the grand success of The Strand, which ran monthly until 1950.
Publication of the Hound of the Baskervilles
Richard Cavendish marks the anniversary of Sherlock Holmes' most famous case, March 25th, 1902.
Arthur Conan Doyle sent Sherlock Holmes to his death at the Reichenbach Falls in 1893 because he did not want to be known for ever as ‘the Holmes man’. The public demand for more Holmes stories, however, and the fact that there was patently much more money to be made out of him eventually proved irresistible.
The tale of the great detective’s Dartmoor adventure, which its author described as ‘the inevitable relapse after repentance’ and which became perhaps the best-known in the whole Holmes canon, first appeared in monthly instalments in the Strand Magazine between August 1901 and April 1902. In book form, The Hound of the Baskervilles: Another Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, with illustrations by Sidney Paget, was published in London in March 1902 by George Newnes, who printed 25,000 copies at six shillings each, with a further 15,000 copies for India and the British Colonies on April 2nd. The American edition of 70,000 copies at $1.25 came out on April 15th.
Much ink and accusations of plagiarism have been spilled over the story’s origins. Conan Doyle’s initial inspiration came from a young journalist friend named Bertram Fletcher Robinson, nicknamed ‘Bobbles’, with whom he spent four days on a seaside golfing holiday at Cromer in Norfolk in the spring of 1901. While they were there, Robinson told Doyle the legend of a ghostly hound on Dartmoor and the two men decided to write what the latter called ‘a real creeper’ together. Robinson lived at Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot in South Devon, and the two friends went there to investigate Dartmoor. Robinson wrote later that Doyle ‘listened eagerly to my stories of the ghost hounds, of the headless riders and of the devils that lurk in the hollows – legends upon which I had been reared, for my home lay on the borders of the moor.’ They stayed at Robinson’s home and at Rowe’s Duchy Hotel at Princetown near the prison, whose governor, deputy governor, chaplain and doctor solemnly came, as Robinson noted, ‘to pay a call on Mr Sherlock Holmes’, to Doyle’s irritation. He and Robinson explored the moor together and appropriated the surname of Robinson’s coachman, Harry Baskerville.
Doyle decided early on to make the tale a Sherlock Holmes mystery, presumed to be an episode in Holmes’ earlier career, before his fatal grapple with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Writing to the editor of the Strand Magazine, Herbert Greenhough Smith, to tell him about the new story, he stipulated that Fletcher Robinson’s name must appear as joint author. ‘I can answer for the yarn being all my own in my own style without dilution, since your readers like that. But he gave me the central idea and the local colour, and so I feel his name must appear.’ This was finally watered down to a note added to the first part, recording Doyle’s indebtedness to Fletcher Robinson, to whom ‘this story owes its inception’ and ‘who has helped me both in the general plot and in the local details.’ The British and American editions in book form also acknowledged Robinson’s help.
Doyle had told Greenhough Smith that ‘as far as I can judge the revival of Holmes would attract a great deal of attention’. This proved to be an understatement. The publication in the Strand Magazine was a sensational success. All over the country, queues formed to buy copies and the magazine had to go to a seventh printing for the only time in its history.
Whether Robinson contributed anything much more to The Hound of the Baskervilles than the dog is not clear. He evidently had a share of the initial royalties, but comments he made at different times suggest that he himself was not really sure how much of the credit he deserved. The story’s imaginative force and the skill in the telling surely came from Conan Doyle. However, Robinson, who died young in 1907, did help to bring Sherlock Holmes back to life. The huge success of The Hound on both sides of the Atlantic led directly to the resurrection of Holmes when Collier’s Weekly in America offered such an enormous sum of money for new stories of the great man that Conan Doyle brought him ingeniously back from his watery grave in The Adventure of the Empty House.
A Brief History Of The Strand, As The Legendary Bookstore Turns 90
For the better part of a century, the Strand has gifted book-loving New Yorkers with a haven of sorts, boasting stacks upon stacks of used, rare, and new literary finds. This year, the Strand turns 90, as does its owner, Fred Bass, whose father opened the shop all the way back in 1927. To celebrate this beloved NYC institution's important milestone, we dug into some of its history.
Back around the turn of the century, as many as 48 used bookstores used to line then-Fourth Avenue between 9th and 14th Streets, earning the area the name "Book Row." Benjamin Bass, a Lithuanian immigrant raised in Hartford, came to New York when he was a teenager and, in his quest for self-education through literature, fell in love with Book Row. After working a number of odd jobs, like subway construction worker and messenger, at age 25 Bass combined about $300 of his own money with a loan from a friend and opened The Strand, then on Fourth Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets.
Book Row in the early 1900s (Courtesy Strand Bookstore)
"He loved used books. That's how this started," Leigh Altshuler, the Strand's director of marketing and communications, told Gothamist. Bass named his bookstore after a road in Central London, where literary legends like Charles Dickens, George Eliot and William-Makepeace Thackeray lived.
The Strand in 1938 (Courtesy Strand Bookstore)
The Strand became popular with the Greenwich Village literary crowd rather quickly, thanks in no small part to its rapid expansion, and eventually the elder Bass managed to build a network of contacts that helped him acquire rare and cheap books from private libraries and estates. The Strand also had a little help getting through tough financial times—Bass's son, Fred Bass, began working in the shop at age 13, and he told the Times that during the Great Depression, the Fourth Avenue building's landlord, an heir of Peter Stuyvesant's, let the store stay rent free for a few years until Bass could repay the debt when the economy improved.
Later, the Stuyvesants helped cripple Book Row by doubling rents in the area, but because of their solid business relationship with Bass, they let his rent remain the same. Eventually, the Strand ended up being the lone remnant of the now-dissipated Book Row.
In 1957, Fred Bass spearheaded the store's move to its current space on the corner of 12th Street and Broadway, and over time the Strand expanded to the building's basement, 2nd and 3rd floors. Benjamin Bass died in 1978, and Fred's daughter Nancy has since joined the family business, operating alongside her father as the store's part owner.
Now the shop boasts an advertised "18 miles" of new, used and rare books, many of which Fred Bass himself has procured through private estates and overseas sales. "Part of my job is going out to look at estates — it’s a treasure hunt," Bass told NY Mag in 2014, describing New York as "an incredible source — a highly educated group of people in a concentrated area, with universities and Wall Street wealth. The libraries are here."
Fred and Nancy Bass outside The Strand in the 2000s (Courtesy Strand Bookstore)
Fred Bass still works behind the buying desk four days a week. Nancy (who is married to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden) has prompted some of the store's more modern initiatives, including the Strand's famed tote bag and lit-related tchotke collection, helping the store survive in an Amazon-drenched 21st century by luring tourists in with Michelle Obama tote bags and stuffed Sherlock Holmes dolls. And the Strand's hefty supply of new books is helpfully bolstered by recommendations from employees, plus it turns out those yellow tags advertising cheaper prices are the staff's way of promoting lesser-known titles that deserve more attention.
And of course, there's the Strand's rare book collection. The most expensive book purchased from the Rare Book Room (which, FYI, is a great and very quiet place to post up and read) was a second folio of Shakespeare's works, which went for $100,000. The rarest book is a first edition copy of Ulysses, which is autographed by James Joyce and illustrated by Henri Matisse —that goes for $40,000, if you've got some spare cash.
Other extraordinary offerings include an 8-volume set of F. Scott Fitzgerald works and a Kurt Vonnegut-inscribed copy of Breakfast of Champions, to name a few. "People will bring us stuff they don't know how rare," Altshuler told us. And some of the fun comes from surprises found inside the books themselves. "We'll find notes, love notes. It's interesting to see where the books come from. It's really special to see not just the story you're reading in the book, but also [the story of] the book itself."
Courtesy Strand Bookstore
Beyond the book collection, the Strand is also known for bringing authors and readers together through readings, Q&As, and other programming. It's got an outpost in Club Monaco on Fifth Avenue and a kiosk in Bryant Park. Movies and television shows (including a recent episode of Master of None) have been shot here, and they've even got an entire "Books by the Foot" program where they rent out books to television and film productions.
And it's such a cultural institution at this point that it's even served as a breeding grounds of sorts for young writers. Author Mary Gaitskill worked as a clerk at the Strand back in the day, and Patti Smith, who worked in the basement there in the 1970s, famously claimed in an interview that she didn't like it because "it wasn't very friendly," though she did enjoy being able to read books on the job.
Speaking of Strand employees, it's noteworthy that the store's staff has been unionized with UAW since the 1970s, and that has caused some conflict with management over the years. A Hyperallergic article from 2014 called the Strand "New York's beloved, independent, union-busting bookstore" and documented one Strand worker's recollection of contract negotiations in 2012. The employee, Greg Farrell, accused Fred and Nancy Bass of trying to propose "long-term disadvantages to the workers" like decreased personal days and benefits and a two-tiered employee system that would ultimately weaken the union.
Eventually, after threat of a strike, both parties came to a compromise and workers eventually voted on a contract, though Farrell claimed the store pushed out "older, more highly paid, unionized workers" and replaced them with younger and cheaper labor in the process. Fred Bass addressed some of the union issues in the aforementioned interview with NY Mag. "The union demands something up here and we’re down here … There’s always going to be conflict," he said.
Books by the Foot (Courtesy Strand Bookstore)
As for the Strand's longevity, the Basses had the foresight to purchase the store's building back in 1996, so, at the very least, there's no bloodsucking landlord threatening to price out the whole operation to make room for a four-story Duane Reade. The real danger, though, is what happens if the Basses decide they're done with the bookselling business, as was the case with Cobble Hill's dearly-departed BookCourt, which shuttered last year after 35 years in operation.
For now, though, the Strand still stands, and its fame has spread far and wide. Just recently, Altshuler says she saw a photo on social media of someone carrying a Strand bag in Egypt. "It was so incredible," she said. "We see things all the time across social. We see things everywhere. it's really nice to see people care so much."
Discover The Strand Hotel, which has been a celebrated cultural landmark in Yangon since 1901.
The Strand Hotel was constructed during the historic reign of the United Kingdom’s famed Queen Victoria, who sat on the British throne from 1837 to 1901.
The Strand Hotel has stood as a celebrated cultural landmark in Yangon, Myanmar, since 1901. Originally a 12-room boarding house, the building was converted into a magnificent three-story hotel by the famous Sarkies Brothers. During the 1880s, the Sarkies created a number of luxurious hotels throughout Southeast Asia, including the prestigious Hotel Raffles. Interested in capitalizing upon their success, the brothers decided to delve into the untapped potential of Myanmar’s fledgling tourist industry. The Sarkies settled on creating a new hotel in the country’s capital city, which was then known as Rangoon. When the Sarkies discovered a lovely wooden boarding house overlooking the local Yangon River, the men knew that they had finally found their new destination. Thus, The Strand Hotel was born.
It quickly became popular, especially among British expats who called the city home. In particular, the hotel’s bar, The Strand Sour, was the choice meeting place for these residents to gather and reminisce. Many illustrious people traveling from abroad also lodged at the hotel during this time, including George Orwell, Richard Kipling, and the future King Edward VIII. The good times came to an abrupt end, however, when the Japanese conquered the country in World War II. Until the end of the war, the Japanese would operate the building as the Yamato Hotel. But it quickly reverted back to private ownership afterward, resuming its place at the center of Rangoon’s social scene. The hotel was soon the site of a spirited charity event called the “Rose Ball,” in which the upper crust of the city’s population regularly attended every year.
Unfortunately, The Strand Hotel began to fall into disrepair. The Burma Economic Development Corporation bought the site in an attempt to fix its dilapidation. It was not until the 1990s that the hotel received a new lease on life. Prominent hotelier Adrian Zecha fell in love with The Strand Hotel, and joined with businessperson Bernard Pe-Win to purchase the building. Together with a group of investors, the two men reached an agreement with the Myanmar government to restore the site. After completing an extensive series of renovations, the hotel was ready to reopen in 1993. The Strand Hotel is once more a fabulous tourist destination in Myanmar.
George Orwell, celebrated author known for such works as 1984 and Animal Farm. Rudyard Kipling, renowned author of The Jungle Book. King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom (1936) Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States (1977 - 1981)
THEY ALL WENT DOWN THE STRAND
From Ghosts and Greaspaint by W. Macqueen Pope 1951
M IDDLE-AGED PEOPLE who go down the Strand nowadays see far more than do the wayfarers who are possessors of youth. The young men and women observe a curious hotch-potch of styles, several periods of architecture, but with the modern style now most prevalent, and the whole street dominated by a most up-to-date building something in the manner of Ancient Babylon, with a clock so modern that it disdains figures altogether and relies entirely on position. Why it should be modern to do this is beyond a middle-aged person's understanding.
Right - For more images of The Strand and London's lost Streets see the Disappearing London page here.
But the past dies very hard in the Strand. It puts up a struggle. There still remain buildings which are as our grandfathers knew them, many of them would be gone but for the war stopping a rebuilding scheme. Others vanished in the blitz. But the man of Yesterday is not so concerned with these relics for he can share them with the young. What he calls up in his second sight are the places once so popular, now ghosts altogether. He can still see Terry's Theatre, over which a vast modern store has flowed, the old Tivoli before it surrendered to a cinema, the front of the old Adelphi with its canopy right across the street and supported by pillars the new Adelphi is modern of course. Maybe he can remember the original Gaiety and perhaps Toole's, long since swept away. The old Strand Theatre has gone, its site is a tube station, but he will remember many things there, especially The Chinese Honeymoon there is not a sign of the old Globe, the Olympic or the Opera Comique, all of which adjoined the Strand and have passed into shadows with Newcastle Street, Holywell Street, Wych Street, almost medieval thoroughfares in appearance. Vast modern sarcophagi cover them all. The Vaudeville is still there, modernized inside, and so is the Adelphi, modernized throughout-save in some old nooks and corners where the right atmosphere of Yesterday still prevails. The middle-aged man will surely remember the Hotel Cecil, over whose site the clock before-mentioned stares over London, he may also recall Rimmel's, that famous perfume shop which called itself "The Scenter of the Strand" and was so, actually and geographically. The shell of the new Gaiety-as opposed to the old-still stands. It was opened in 1903-incredibly long ago to Youth, but new to him of Yesterday. And there still, to give him a jerk and to set memory whirling, is a name and a building which is indeed as full of ghosts as it was once full of greasepaint. Shortly it will become a ghost itself. It is bound to the Present by an underground bar, once it was the very pulse and mainspring of the Strand when the Strand was the Street of Professionals-of Theatre and Music Hall alikeand still, over a little canopy, some copper cupids dance-it is a funeral rite now, but once it was the welcome to as gay a place as any city in the world could show-a restaurant of strong character and complete distinction-that entirely delectable place known as Romano's.
Above - Romano's Restaurant
Perhaps it is well that Romano's should go-for the people who made it the place it was and also the life it reflected, really went down into destruction with the war of 1914. It survived long after that but never quite the same, never quite so free and easy, never quite the same true piece of Bohemia it had been in the days of golden currency, of which it was so much a part. It belonged to the days when wars were far distant, small and professional affairs, and when such things as coupons and points were unknown and unthought of. To Romano's flocked the Bohemians, men and women of the greasepaint, authors, journalists, artists of all kinds, soldiers, sailors (but not of " other ranks"), men of the law, of finance, of the race-course and the prize-rings-and crooks as well. The place was really an informal club of which they were all members and of which they respected the rules. If you were an outsider visiting Romano's you soon found out whether you " belonged- or not.
Yet, when it opened, it was not called Romano's. When that Italian who was something of a Genius started business for himself in the Strand-the High Street of London then-he called his modest little place the Cafe Vaudeville.
Right - Site of Romano's, 400 Strand, London, also showing the Vaudeville Theatre. M.L. 2004
It was just a little shop with a little bar into which he put the savings amassed as a headwaiter at the Cafe Royal. He had luck. He got, on credit, a few bottles of a really good champagne, which formed the nucleus of what was to become one of the finest cellars in the whole of London -which was saying a good deal then. Romano himself was a small, dark, swarthy man with a large moustache which was his pride and joy. He was a man who knew his job. He knew exactly how to handle all sections of humanity and he understood the tremendous value of the personal touch. He knew the innermost secrets of every man and woman who sat at his tables, when Romano's was at its prime, but the rack and pincers would never have extorted one word from him. Yet although he knew and understood the English people perfectly, he never mastered their language. He spoke a version of it which was all his own. He went for a country drive with Arthur Roberts, that great comedian who was a -regular- at Romano's. It was spring and "The Roman as he was called, was enchanted with all he saw."I lofa mine Italy," he cried, " but what you calla your bloominga London countryside is also verre good. When I see-a your trees, I haf to admire the folios." That was a fair sample of his English.
He was indeed " The Roman", and every day saw a triumph fur him. There were, of course, rules and regulations at Romano's. No bill, once presented, was ever altered. The customer might be right -but so was Romano. Yet he gave credit and lots of it. It was all scored up in chalk on a series of slates. And when on one occasion there was a small fire, several impecunious customers were extremely active helping to direct the firemen's hoses, especially in the direction of these slates. At times of financial stress, such as the Boer War provoked, Romano had thousands of pounds owing to him. It is very doubtful, however, if anyone ever bilked him. The Roman was a generous man but also a very good judge of character. And a biker knew that such an act closed Romano's to him for ever, a quite unthinkable thing then.
That tiny Cafe Vaudeville had been put on the map by means of a journalist and two music-hall artistes-a Sister act. The journalist was John Corlett who ran The Sporting Times, better known as The Pink 'Un-so eagerly looked forward to by Bohemian London every Friday. One of his nag told him of the little place. He went, he found it good. He went every day. He wrote about it, he spoke about it. His stag rallied round its bar, and every Friday Corlett gave his weekly staff dinner there, and for many, many years, through the great times of Romano's and The Pink 'Un, the large table to the left of the entrance was sacred to The Pink 'Un. That journal and Romano's declined together, when times changed. There was no room for either of them. The Sisters Leamar, famous on the Halls, sang a song about the place :
Romano's, Italiano Paradise in the Strand . . .
It was wonderful publicity. The fame of Romano's spread far and wide. It began to spread itself. The little cafe grew. It became long and narrow, with plenty of tables and red plush seats all round the walls. The customers called it the" Rifle Range". But the food, wine and service were always of the very best. It kept on growing. But the staff remained. There was old Bendi, who looked after the wine cellar. He was an expert. He knew each bottle under his care and looked after them like a family doctor. If he did not take their temperatures he saw to it that they always reclined in the right positions and in the right temperature for their various needs. The decorative scheme of Romano's was that all-embracing one, very popular in those days, called " Byzantine". And through all its developmens-and it grew quite a lot-it never changed its style nor its atmosphere until the inevitable end. Certainly never in Romano's days. There was no band until after the First World War -and then when the band came, it was going downhill. There was no dancing until that same period. The great thing at Romano's was food, drink, genial companionship and conversation. It was a coteric of friends.
Above - The Strand in the 1940s
It did not cover a lot of ground so when it had to expand to meet its ever-increasing trade, it had to go upwards. It crowned itself with a balcony, upper floors and private rooms. And that balcony, on one occasion, caused a lot of trouble. A party of young Army officers, out on what was then known as a " spree", dined at Romano's and did themselves well. Searching for mischief they found it in the form of umbrellas. The new wonder of parachute descent was the talk of the day. Here was a heaven-sent opportunity. Those highspirited young men used the umbrellas as parachutes and descended thereby on to the tables of those dining beneath. Food and wine were spread in all directions, the ladies of Romano's screamed and the gentlemen who were their escorts, scandalized at such behaviour, fought the over-merry young soldiers. They lost, however, for the soldiers held the field. It might have been different had there been a pugilist in the restaurant that night, as was so often the case.
Romano's knew what it was to serve Royalty. The Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, was a frequent customer. His Derby winner, Diamond jubilee, was heavily backed by the clients of Romano's, and some of the choice spirits and sportsmen who had thus profited gave a dinner there to celebrate their winnings. They sent a respectful invitation to the Prince, but he could not come. However, he sent a telegram of regret which was read to the guests. His health was drunk many times over, and when the celebration was ended, in the small hours, a waiter found a crumpled piece of paper near the chairman's scat. It was the Royal telegram of regrets. It was nicely smoothed out, and it was framed. It hung in Romano's for many years.
The atmosphere of Romano's was highly charged with greasepaint You saw many- celebrities there. Arthur Roberts, "that shrewd and knavish sprite", the very embodiment of Robin Goodfellow, the master of spoof and gags, had his own table there. So had Marie Lloyd. It was in Romano's that the great Gus Harris, of Drury Lane, engaged her as Principal Girl for a "Lane" pantomime and she horrified him by saying that she had always thought the mighty theatre was a barracks. For Drury Lane had its own military guard in those days, like the Bank of England. And Arthur Collins, Gus Harris's successor and perhaps an even greater producer, was another table-holder. He loved Romano's-to him it was almost home. He would go there to lunch, when there were no rehearsals going on, and dinner-time would still find him there, talking to a circle of friends. He would not leave until the lights went out and he had held his audiences spellbound and highly amused all the time. He had good cause, too, to be faithful to Romano's. For it was in that very restaurant that Drury Lane itself was saved. It happened soon after Collins had taken charge, after Sir Augustus Harris's death. His responsibility was great and his means not large. The lease was expiring and it looked like being the end of "The Lane". There was talk of it coming down to extend Covent Garden Market. Small wonder he sat there looking glum. He had tried every available resource and was still short of the sum. required by the ducal landlord for the granting of a new lease. He wanted £1000 and, so far as he was concerned, there did not seem to be that amount of money available in the world. This usually cheery, laughter-loving man was in the depths of despondency. Another regular of Romano's had been watching him. Except that both were of Romano's they did not know each other well. But the regular saw Collins was troubled and came over to speak to him. He was mildly interested in theatrical affairs under the name of Love, but he had another name in the City, where he was an Australian merchant. He asked Collins what was the matter. Collins told him. Mr Love laughed. " Is that all?" he said.---Well, that's all right. Send down to my office in the morning and you shall have a guaranteed cheque!" Collins could hardly believe his ears. But he sent down and it was all right. So world-famous Drury Lane itself owes much to Romano's.
Above - The Strand in 1951
Sir George Dance, the Napoleon of touring companies, the power behind the throne, the richest theatrical manager of his day, always lunched at Romano's. It cannot be said that he radiated gaiety but he hatched many of his big schemes there, schemes which never failed because of the power of the brain behind them. Daily he sat and pondered there, after lunch, a creme de menthe before him. It helped his indigestion-he was no drinker and he saw to it that his staff did not drink either. Yet he purveyed liquid refreshment over the bars of many West End theatres. He is himself a ghost now-he earned his title by means of a munificent gift to the "Old Vic" which saved that institution. A curious man, but a great man who should live in memories.
But if Dance did not exude gaiety, all the stars of the Gaiety itself went to Romano's, a sight worth going miles to see. And you saw the ladies of the Gaiety chorus there too, for George Edwardes had an arrangement whereby they got special prices. It was good for the box-office to have them seen by the young men in such surroundings. It was good for Romano's too. All the stars were there, Gertie Millar, W. H. Berry-the names are innumerable.
Not only the girls of the Gaiety went there, but the girls of other theatres too. Some would have special tables kept for them, decked with lovely flowers every day by their special admirers. Some sat in veritable canopies of blooms. Some had great bells made of flowers, their names emblazoned thereon, suspended over them. Let it not be imagined for one moment that all of these young ladies were what was then called---fast". That idea is entirely wrong. Many of them were as respectable and self-respecting as any lady in the land. But they were lovely and they lived in days when men put women on a pedestal and worshipped female loveliness with adoration. There was no talk of Equality of the Sexes then, and women had not got a vote. So they ruled the men. Such a one was a very beautiful girl, with perfect face and features, figure to match, raven-haired and with a pair of entrancing green eyes, and a reputation as impeccable as her appearance. She had been a show girl and a beautiful one she rose to play parts in all sorts of plays. She adorned Romano's as she adorned the stage. One night a young man who admired her gave her a birthday party there, to which she invited some friends. It was a wonderful party, with gay, carefree young people enjoying their lives in golden times, without scandal or impropriety but with that heartiness which then characterized this nation. The young man whispered to the green-eyed girl to know if there was anything else she would like. She gave a sigh of happiness. "If only this party could go on," she said, -when all the rest of the people have gone-and we could dance." The young man smiled. He saw the head waiter. Something passed between them. At the usual closing hour the lights flickered, went out, and then a few remained to light the customers out. The young man said to the girl, "Tell your friends to pretend to get their wraps, but not to hurry". With shining eyes she did so. The belated clients left, whilst that gay little party still stood chatting in the vestibule. The doors were shut. The lights went up again-a band appeared-and that party danced on into the small hours. That was Romano's. The birthday girl's name was then Pat Doyle. Now she is Mrs Betty Hammond, happy wife of a gallant gentleman, E. H. Hammond, who is managing director of one of the oldest and most famous wine importers in the country. lie, too, has greasepaint in his system, for an ancestor of his endeavoured to run Drury Lane-that most difficult of problems-and went down in the struggle with colours flying as became an actor and a gentleman. She who was once Pat Doyle, who shed beauty on Romano's, sheds beauty still wherever she goes. And Pat Doyle's story can be matched by many others who supped at Romano's in the Strand. The nineties and the nineteen hundreds of the golden age were not nearly so naughty as they are supposed to have been, although they were always gay.
Few people believe that enamoured young men drank champagne from the dainty shoes of the ladies they adored-but they did-and they did it at Romano's too. There are lovely ladies alive to-day and Ruby Miller is one of them-who can supply chapter, and verse. Another is Sylvia Grey.
Phil May, that genius in black and white, who drew inspired pictures of London life and who looked like a groom, was always at Romano's. One day he received a cheque which he had never expected. Such windfalls must be spent at once, of course. Or at least, that was Phil May's idea. So what more natural than to give a celebration dinner at Romano's? The best of everything was ordered and the cheque burning a hole in May's pocket was to be expended to the last penny. Romano's helped with a will. But when the bill came large as it was, there still remained a considerable balance unspent. It was very hard to spend a lot of money in those days of plenty. But they managed it at last, with magnums of what they called " The Boy" and that Napoleon brandy of which Romano's was proud.
When Romano himself died, he lay in state in a room above the restaurant he had made so famous. Crowds filed by his bier to take a last look at the friend who had served them so well, and who had been the cause of so much happiness for them. Royal blood was mingled in the throng of notabilities in every walk of life which paid this last tribute to a man who had been a waiter and had become a celebrity-and to their way of thinking, a public benefactor. He was deeply and sincerely mourned and he deserved the credit he got -for he had given much. But he did not die a poor man. A solicitor friend of his, a shrewd and able man with a big Bow Street practice, had looked after his affairs, and looked after them well. His name was Harry Wilson and nobody who entrusted anything to his capable hands ever regretted it.
Romano's went on after Romano had passed away. The great Luigi himself-a master of his art-succeeded the Noble Roman and succeeded in every way too. Nothing killed Romano's but the altered life brought about by the 1914-18 war. Now just a bar remains open-- the rest is a gathering place for ghosts and the dance the little cupids still perform is surely one of death. But no doubt that in Ghostland the shade of Rornano has found a corner where he can still give joy to the ghosts of greasepaint and the arts-and that will be a very delectable corner of Ghostland.
Village Voices: Explore History with Georgetown's Hobcaw Barony
If you've visited Hobcaw Barony in the past, you may have toured Friendfield Village. Though this is the most frequented village at Hobcaw Barony, there are actually the remnants of additional hidden villages that are rarely seen by the public. Take the chance to tour them with the Villages of Hobcaw.
On this tour, participants will drive their own cars to the four different villages to discuss the history of each through oral interpretation and historical photographs. The first stop will be the lone cabin at Alderly/Oryzantia. This cabin was once owned by Joseph and Theodosia Burr Alston. The second stop will be Barnyard Village, where tour guests can see a newly renovated cabin and remaining extant buildings.
The third stop will be Strawberry Village, to see a one-room schoolhouse that educated many children over time. Lastly, there will be a stop at Friendfield Village to wrap up an interesting afternoon filled with history. Reservations are required for this event. In response to Georgetown County's Emergency Ordinance, face coverings must be worn when entering any buildings at Hobcaw Barony.
Exploring Myrtle Beach's Rich Military History
When you walk the tree-lined streets of The Market Common, you’re walking hallowed ground rich in the history of our armed forces. Take the time to read some of the many plaques along the sidewalks the next time you’re heading to the movies, a restaurant or shopping and you will get a flavor for the enormous impact our uniformed men and women had on this area. Better yet, take the Military History Tour run by The Market Common from September through April and learn about the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and its vital role in our nation’s history.
This history begins in the late 1930s when Myrtle Beach civic leaders began funding and planning for a municipal airport. Very soon, federal funding was employed and the U.S. War Department added acreage and continued the planning, including adding an Army air base to the plans. This was before the U.S. Air Force was even created, which happened in 1947.
The area saw tremendous activity during World War II. Members of the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School trained here, as well as several Americans who took part in Lt. Col. James Doolittle’s famous raid on Tokyo in 1942. In April 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the base while he was on a month-long visit with his friend and advisor Bernard Baruch, at Hobcaw Barony just south of Myrtle Beach. While here, FDR put the finishing touch on the enormous plans for the Allies’ D-Day invasion of Normandy, which would ultimately lead to victory in Europe.
More than 600 German prisoners of war were housed here during WWII. They performed certain duties on the base as well as on local farms where they picked crops, tended fields and livestock, and cut timber. These POWs were treated so well that, after the war and their release back to Germany, several returned to the Grand Strand and started families whose descendants still live here today.
The Myrtle Beach Air Force Base was officially founded in 1954 and proved to be extremely important throughout the Cold War, the Vietnam conflict and Desert Storm. At its peak, it consisted of 4,000 acres, 2,800 active duty personnel and 800 civilian employees. It served as a training base for fighters and bombers and was home to three squadrons of A10 fighters—the “ugly duckling” that has become the hero of our fighting men and women on the ground because of its durability and supporting firepower.
Seagate Village, which still exists as private real estate along U.S. 17 Business and Farrow Parkway, provided 800 family housing units. After the base closed, the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority purchased Seagate Village from the Air Force in 1997 and leased them to a local developer, who bought all the housing units in 2001 and slowly sold them to individual owners. Today, they are all privately owned.
The first base commander was Col. Robert G. Emmens. He had participated in Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo in 1942. After bombing Tokyo, his B-25 bomber made it to Russia, where he was held captive for 13 months before escaping through Persia. In 1955, he was assigned to command the new 4434th Air Base Squadron, tasked with supervising the rehabilitation and construction of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
When the base opened officially in 1956, a new commander was assigned—Col. Francis S. Gabreski—a true American warrior. Gabreski was raised in Oil City, Pennsylvania, by a Polish American family and spoke fluent Polish. During WWII, he survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. He then transferred to Europe, where he helped train and command Polish pilots flying with the British Royal Air Force. He became America’s greatest flying ace, destroying 26 enemy aircraft, surpassing the famous Eddie Rickenbacker. He was shot down and taken prisoner in July 1944 but survived the ordeal and later served combat duty in Korea.
The base’s former recreation center and the avenue it is on are named in Gabreski’s memory. The rec center remains active today as a city facility for numerous recreational and educational activities.
The base continued to serve important roles throughout the Cold War, Vietnam and Desert Storm. Three of the strategic planes that called Myrtle Beach home were the A10 Warthog, mentioned earlier, the F-100 Super Sabre and the A-7 Corsair II. All three of these planes are on display at War Bird Park along Farrow Parkway.
Col. Joe Barton’s A10 Warthog on display at Warbird Park and (inset) a schematic of the plane’s construction.
During Desert Storm, two squadrons of A10s and their support group, approximately 55 planes, flew from Myrtle Beach to Saudi Arabia. The pilots had to refuel in midair over the Atlantic and Mediterranean numerous times before arriving to take part in the combat.
Col. Joe Barton was Operations Officer of the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), one of the two squadrons from here. The other was the 353rd TFS. Today, he is retired and living in Myrtle Beach. “I told every man and woman under my command that the best assignment you will ever have in the Air Force is Myrtle Beach,” said Barton.
Barton, a graduate of the University of Georgia and proud fan of the Bulldogs, first came to Myrtle Beach in 1970 for ROTC summer camp. He also trained in Valdosta, Georgia, and was a flight instructor in Tucson, Arizona, where he first flew the A10. The actual plane he flew in Desert Storm is the A10 on display at War Bird Park—a stop on The Market Common tour. Look for his Georgia Bulldog painted on the side of the cockpit.
“The A10 proved to be a formidable weapon to help our soldiers on the ground,” remarked Barton. “We lost only two planes in combat during Desert Storm, and we proved the A10 could fly combat missions at night. Today, the Air Force still utilizes the A10 with advanced technological equipment like night vision and GPS.”
The Myrtle Beach Air Force Base closed officially in March 1993. Colonel Barton and his family were among the last families to move off base.
Col. Buddy Styers is another Air Force hero and is the driving force behind what The Market Common has become. Styers grew up visiting Myrtle Beach, and in 1954 his father bought a motel and moved the family here. Styers joined the Air Force in 1966 and had a stellar 26-year career, but oddly was never stationed at Myrtle Beach. After retiring here from the Air Force where he had commanded two different bases, he became Executive Director of the Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority.
Styers and his board adopted an “urban village” development plan, a model they had seen achieve success elsewhere, and the results have been spectacular.
“I knew that eventually the area would look nothing like it once was,” Styers remarked. “So I made a strong effort to preserve the history of what the air base had been and what it had contributed.”
Today, many of the streets in The Market Common are named for people who served at the base. Also, the neighborhood has numerous plaques honoring those who served and describing their contributions and service accomplishments. The plaques can be seen at several places around The Market Common near the shops, restaurants and residential units.
Styers and his board also went to great lengths to preserve and re-purpose many of the buildings and facilities. The former recreation center has been converted into an all-purpose recreational/educational/social center for the city. The base housing, as mentioned earlier, has become a beautiful little beach neighborhood of privately owned units. Other buildings and facilities have been converted for private aviation and commercial business enterprises, creating jobs and enhancing the local tax base.
So the next time you shop, dine or go to a movie at The Market Common, take a moment to reflect on its rich history and to quietly honor the military men and women who served so honorably there.
MILITARY HISTORY TROLLEY TOUR INFO
Tickets are available September through April at eventbrite.com. Tours, taken on a comfortable trolley, run on Fridays twice monthly in January, February and March, and once in April. Tours are $30 per person and begin in front of the Stone Theatre and end at Tupelo Honey. The trolley tour is approximately one hour, followed by refreshments and an extremely interesting one-hour slide presentation by a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. For more information contact The Market Common’s Management Office at (843) 839-3500.
Base recreation center Base housing complex War Bird Park Valor Park Original air terminal/private aviation center Historical markers
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