Stories behind Street Names

Have you ever noticed the name of a street and wondered where on earth it got its name from?!  There are so many unusual ones in and around London, and with London’s rich history it’s quite fascinating discovering where certain street names originated from.  Historically streets were often named after the goods that were being sold in that area – Bread Street, Poultry to name but two, other were named after the destination of a particular road.

As Estate Agents in W1, we are often running around the streets of the West End on viewings and have expert knowledge on the area, so thought we’d share the origins of some of our local street names with you.

Starting with Oxford Street – one of the largest shopping streets in the world, was so named in 1725 because – as you might guess – it was the road to Oxford; however, up until 1725 it was known as Tyburn Road which rather gruesomely led to the Tyburn Hanging Tree!

Piccadilly – another large shopping street in London’s West End, was named after a wide, decorated collar named the piccadill; this fashion item of the time made the fortune of a tailor called Robert Baker, and with that fortune he built himself a large property in the area and named it Piccadilly House.

Goodge Street was named after John Goodge – a carpenter.  His nephews developed what was Crab Tree Fields into a large road in 1740, and named it after their favourite Uncle John!

Romilly Street – a small side turning running behind Shaftsbury Avenue, takes it’s name from Samuel Romilly who successfully campaigned in the abolition of the death penalty for petty crimes in 1810.  A small side-street maybe, but what historical event!

Tottenham Court Road – so called because it was the road to Toten Hall – the court house of the area at the time, which was situated at the North West end of the road.

Charing Cross Road – a street famed for it’s bookshops, is named after the Queen Eleanor Memorial cross which stood on the site that was once the hamlet of Charing.  The site is now occupied by a statue of King Charles I riding a horse; it faces down Whitehall towards Banqueting House which was his place of execution.

And finally we have Hanway Street, Fitzrovia – it’s rumoured to have been named after the Portsmouth-born traveller who braved ridicule by first championing the use of an umbrella!  I can imagine that he must have looked a little unusual with this new contraption which protected from the rain, but with our British weather I’m very thankful he did!


Keen on Kentish Town? You Should Be!

Exciting opportunity alert!  Davis Brown Commercial and Residential Property Agents are bringing to the market a mixed use freehold development site with a resolution to grant planning for residential and commercial use, situated in Kentish Town.

As Estate Agents in London we like to keep our ears to the ground for exciting areas popping up around the capital. Kentish Town (NW5), situated in the north west of London is one of these areas, and if you’re not familiar with the area I’d get acquainted with it ASAP!  It’s one of those places where you may not have thought to visit or live but it’s becoming increasingly popular, so if you’re thinking of moving here it could be a great place to invest.    Whether it’s culture, outdoor space, food or socialising you’re after, you will not be short of things to do in Kentish Town!     

Eating out is easy in Kentish Town, you have an array of gastro pubs and old boozers to choose from including The Grafton, Southampton Arms, Junction Tavern, and for a good quiz, cheese and gossip head to The Pineapple!   There are good cheap restaurants such as Stingray – a lovely family run restaurant serving delicious pizzas and other Italian fayre.    The Chicken Shop does what it says on the tin – a delicious restaurant with chicken being the main focus served with mouth-watering sides.   Its popularity has demanded it open many other Chicken Shops in other parts of London, but Kentish Town was the first ever Chicken Shop!  Pizza East is a funky establishment serving – yes you’ve guessed it – pizza!  Both the Chicken Shop and Pizza East are part of the trendy Soho House group.  

The Kentish Town Forum, built in 1934 it’s an art deco building  which was originally used as a cinema; it’s now a world famous concert venue, playing host to many popular bands.   

If you’re looking to get out and about, breathe in some fresh air and walk on grass you’re not far from Hampstead Heath.  A huge, beautiful open space to go and relax on a summer’s day, or for the astronomists of you there is the Whitestone Pond Observatory – the only one in London.  

For retail therapy there are a number of quirky shops around, including the Dandy Lion Market – a monthly fixture at The Oxford pub, selling all things vintage which takes place on the first Saturday of each month.   

For the culture vultures you have the NW5 art trail!  A few small local galleries housing some fantastic art, to while away your weekends. 

And if that’s not enough Kentish Town even has its own farm! So there we have it, London works its magic yet again!   KTPIC 

79 Beak Street and John Wilkes Gun Makers

You might be wondering why Estate Agents would be talking about gun makers, but it’ll all become clear very soon… Davis Brown Estate Agents has roots dating back to 1900, so we love to know the history of the properties that we let and sell –wherever in London that might be!  Some areas have a really interesting history and knowing the history can add to the fascination of a property or area, and the story of Number 79 Beak Street is truly fascinating.  This unique grade II listed building is noted for its special architectural and historical interest but not only that, it was also home to one of the last gun makers of Soho.  

John Wilkes Gun maker’s first started trading as a pistol maker in 1820 in Birmingham however it was not until 1894 that the shop was moved to London.  Its first location in the capital was a shop at Number 1 Lower James Street in Soho – the area John Wilkes would eventually remain for over a century.  Moving on from making only pistols, the firm expanded into making rifles – producing up to 100 a year.  

Production slowed during World War I however the company survived and in 1925 the shop moved to what would be its final shop at 79 Beak Street.  Set over three floors, this traditional 18th century terraced house was converted to a shop with two floors of workspace.  Steeped in history and tradition, by the end of the 1900s, the shop became locally famous for its gun-making artefacts and relics.  Here John Wilkes explored a new type of gun craft, focusing on high quality guns and rifles with intricate and ornate decoration.  As the focus moved from quantity to quality, production dropped to only 100 guns in the last 30 years of trading on Beak Street.   

In 2000, John Wilkes made, what must have been an emotional decision to leave Beak Street after so long in the area.  Taking years to clear out, the building was not vacated until July 2003. 

79 Beak Street is now home to three flats with an art gallery on the ground floor.  Davis Brown has let these flats for over a decade and the building is a personal favourite amongst our negotiators for it’s unique history and original, period features.   

If you’re looking to rent or purchase a flat in Soho, Davis Brown Estate Agents are here to help!  Please get in touch with Emma or Sarah-Jane on 0207 637 1066. 

Beak Street 79 F1 - ext

Maintaining Your Home

All estate agents know that tenants and buyers alike can’t wait to get their mitts on the keys to their new abode and start making a property a home!  Whether it’s a full refurbishment project or a case of putting your own furniture in, moving is exciting but exhausting – once the slog of moving is over, the temptation is to put your feet up and enjoy your property – which of course, you must!   However, it’s important to go back and check over your property regularly to ensure that your home is maintained.  And as a property management company and estate agents in W1, we know the key things to keep an eye on, and the easiest way to keep your home looking its best.

I.            Keep the place clean! Needless to say that you should aim to have a good clean of your property at least once a week – staying on top of it keeps it smelling fresh and looking smart, but it will also keep unwanted intruders such as ants and mice at bay.  Apparently though, if you want to have a clean and tidy home, you need to allow sage to grow in your garden (but that’s only if you believe in Old Wives’ Tales…)

II.           Move your furniture around – items left in the same spot can leave marks on the floor and the carpet; an easy way to avoid this is to have a shuffle around once or twice a year.  Plus you’re giving your home a fresh, new look!

III.          Keep on top of your paintwork.  Scuffed the paint? Give it a gentle wipe with a damp cloth! Looking after your walls and gloss work is vital to maintaining the appearance of your property – real no-no’s include dragging items along the wall and touching the walls with dirty hands (difficult with small children – we know!).  It may sound picky, but looking after your walls will keep your property looking newer for longer and keep the costs down in the long run.

IV.         Regularly air your property.  If the weather’s nice, open those doors and windows! Letting the air circulate for a good few hours dries out any damp areas, whilst bringing some freshness into your home.

V.           Don’t forget about those rarely seen or used areas.  Under the sofa… behind the radiators… the back corner of the spare room… keep an eye on parts of your home that aren’t always in use, plus I have never not found money under the sofa!  Dust and mould can quickly grow in areas that are sparsely used, whilst cracks and damp need to be kept an eye on – if you have areas of your home which you don’t always use, check on them a couple of times a month just to be safe. 

So there we have it, maintaining your home is an easy and relatively stress free way to keep your property looking in good nick for longer – small things build up over time and so little and often is the best way forward.  The most important thing to remember is that if you look after your property, it will look after you!

For more information about residential lettings, sales or property management, please contact Davis Brown, W1 on 0207 637 1066.


How uncertain is London’s Property Market post BREXIT?

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union on 24th June there has been an overwhelmingly pessimistic response from London property agents and the media in regards to the future of the London property market.

Despite this, a number of commercial agents in London have reported that investment deals have not been as affected as predicted, with less than 10% of deals made prior to the vote failing to proceed. Although there has been some renegotiation there has reportedly not been a noticeable drop in prices.*

Estate agents in Central London have continued to suggest that house prices have dropped within the most expensive postcodes. Despite this, viewings of residential lettings for London’s luxury homes have reportedly increased by 15% in comparison to last year. Many have been by commercial tenants, as experienced by Davis Brown through the letting of a newly refurbished flat with patio on Goodge Street.

The Bank of England’s reduction of the base rate to 0.25% could encourage more people to move their savings into property with a chance for better ‘tracker mortgage’ deals. As London still seriously suffers from a ‘housing crisis’ it is difficult to see if it really will see a significant drop in housing prices as many are predicting.

Halifax*** has reported that despite erratic changes in the House Price Index immediately post BREXIT, the market remains robust overall. There were severe falls recorded in Knightsbridge, but this was an area favoured by overseas investors, which had already seen a significant drop in investment due to increased stamp duty. Outside of these few areas the property market has appeared to remain stable overall.

Although the future remains uncertain, evidence suggests that the impact of the BREXIT vote has been less than expected so far, and where prices have fallen this appears to be most influenced by change in stamp duty.

Changes in the property market over the next few years may be largely influenced by negotiations and decisions made by the Government both overseas and in the UK. If the approach is to incentivise people to work and invest in London and the rest of the UK once leaving the European single market, the pessimists could be proven wrong. We will just have to wait and see.




*CoStar article 25th July – Investment transactions holding up well post Brexit vote

** Telegraph 3rd August – What Brexit property lull? Renting London’s luxury homes on the up

*** The Week August – Post-Brexit house prices remain ‘robust’ in July

Get Fit in Fitzrovia!

Get Fit in Fitzrovia!

These 4 years have flown by since our fabulous city of London hosted the 2012 Olympics, and here we are again on the eve of the 2016 Olympics – this time with Rio being the hosts. The opening ceremony starts late tonight with the first races being held tomorrow. Now, if you are feeling inspired and want to take the first step to a new healthy you, I’ve found a few places to help you get fit in Fitzrovia! There are plenty to choose from so get up out of that office chair and get moving! Firstly you’ll need to get yourself kitted out and Runners Need on Great Portland Street is just the ticket! A useful shop where they will help you find the best sports clothing and equipment and even analyse your gait while running to help you find the best sports shoe.

Now for the tough stuff! Let’s start with Psycle on Mortimer Street, apart from having a clever name the trainers here will get those adductors toned in no time! Spin classes with an eclectic mix of energetic music to keep you motivated. Sohot Bikramyoga on Clipstone Street, get ready to feel the heat, sweat profusely and don’t forget your towel (very important Bikram etiquette!). Good Vibes on Tottenham Street – you have everything under one roof here including yoga, power plates, spin, personal training, and if you’re feeling like a bit of pampering they also offer alternative therapies and massage. Pure Gym on Great Portland Street offers a no frills experience and the bonus here is you can pay as you go, plus they offer free classes each and every week! Then we have Studio on Mortimer Street; they have all sorts of classes from Pilates to ballet.

Part of getting healthy is eating well so if you’re feeling hungry after your workout but don’t want to undo all the good work you’ve just done, you could pop upstairs from Studio to the Detox Kitchen (a firm favourite of ours here at Davis Brown Estate Agents) and grab yourself a delicious nutritious meal and feel smug in the fact that it will be doing your body the world of good! Other establishments to grab a healthy bite are Maple and Fitz in Berners Street where you will find an abundance of superfood salads and delicious fresh juices, Crussh on Rathbone Place, and if you fancy giving meat a miss why not try the new Veggie Pret on Broadwick Street?


Spare Room Inspiration!

Do you have a spare room, or an area in your home that isn’t being used for more than – well, let’s be honest – a dumping ground?   I’m sure there are a fair few of us who could put our hands up to this so why not take the bull by the horns and do something about it?  Not only will it provide you with a useful space, it’ll stop you muttering under your breath “I MUST do something about that room!” every time you walk past it!   So we at Davis Brown Estate Agents have put together some ideas to get you started in making the area something you’ve always wanted.

Home Office

If you are a home worker – or are planning on becoming one, an office in your home is a great idea.  Rather than sitting at the kitchen table with your laptop, it’s a good idea to have a space specifically for working in.  This way you have a quiet oasis for working and a separate space for living.  Easy to kit out relatively cheaply too, with a desk and chair and neutral décor.


If you are one the many who has spent a fortune on their gym membership, only to ever use it once in a blue moon because you don’t have the time, or simply can’t be bothered, then turning your spare room into a home gym negates these excuses!  You can often pick up free or cheap second hand gym equipment on websites such as Freecycle, Gumtree or Streetlife.  Mount a TV on the wall, tune in to MTV and voila – there’s no excuse not to get fit!  

Walk in Wardrobe

Ok so this is where all your winter coats and shoes are anyway – but on the floor in a mess!  How about flexing your DIY muscles and getting some proper storage where you can neatly store away your clothes, shoes and handbags.  Ikea has some great storage ideas and at very reasonable prices.


Rather than having guests staying on a blow up mattress on the sitting room floor, how about clearing out the junk you’ve accumulated over the years – car boot sale springs to mind – and give them a proper bedroom to stay in.  Sofa bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers; it’s not going to break the bank and you may find yourself a little more popular with friends!

Movie Room

A largish wall, comfy chairs, a projector, some black out blinds and popcorn and you have yourself a home cinema for all the family!


Just for that touch of luxury!


It’s all about kerb appeal!

Everyone knows not to judge a book by its cover…but we all do – and in this case it could make all the difference!  As Estate Agents in W1, as soon as we approach a property we can see our buyers starting to make their initial judgements.  Is the outside clean and tidy?  Are the windows in good condition?  Does the building look secure?  Whether it’s for sale or to let, the ‘kerb appeal’ of your property is crucially important – first impressions do count!  As estate agents with years of experience pounding the streets, viewing many a property, we thought we would give you our top tips for giving your property that “wow” factor from the off.

From the moment buyers set eyes on a property, they may be asking themselves Is it structurally sound?  Is it well maintained?   Is it going to cost me a fortune to renovate?  Regardless of the size of your property, a manicured exterior gives the impression of a careful homeowner – and if the buyer believes you have looked after your property they are going to be more confident in you and your home.  There are a few easy ways to instantly freshen up the exterior.

  1. Take five minutes to look at the exterior of your property. How does it look – is the guttering in good order?  If your budget allows a repaint of the windows and downpipes give an instant refresh.   But what if you’re in a flat and this is not possible?  Give the windows a good clean, and ensure that the panes are sparkling.
  1. Make use of what you’ve got! Regardless of size, if you have outside space, make sure you are using it to its maximum.   Start by removing any clutter and weeds.  Once tidy, plant up a couple of tubs with bright coloured flowers and arrange them around the front door.   If you have a balcony, why not use a couple of window boxes to add a bit of flora and fauna?  Ikea has great ideas for adding colours and quirks to small outside areas.
  1. It’s important outside as well as in. Especially in the shorter, winter days – lighting outside is a must.  A welcoming light outside the front door is always a nice touch as no-one likes standing around in the dark!
  1. The front door. We see the front door of our homes so much that we probably don’t notice that it may be looking a little forlorn!  Is the number or name intact and clearly visible?  Does the paintwork look a little tired?  Sanding down the front door and repainting it is a great way to freshen up your property’s look.  Choosing a bright coloured paint or quirky lettering or numbers will make your property stand out and help to differentiate it from the others.   People always remember something a little unusual.
  1. Lastly, is the property secure? A sure-fire way for a potential vendor/tenant to be assured that it is would be if they saw two good quality locks in the front door!  That said – make sure you don’t go overboard otherwise you’ll leave the potential buyer/renter wondering why there’s a need for such extensive security!   Your local hardware store will be able to advise you on all things locks!


The Urban Beach

If, over the last few days – like us here at Davis Brown Estate Agents in W1, you have been longing to get to the seaside to walk along the beach, feeling the soft sand between your toes with an ice cream in hand,  but you’ve not been able to as you lives miles from the sea!  Well, panic not –   if the mountain won’t go to Muhammed, Muhammed must come to the mountain!  There’s no need to step foot outside the M25 as tonnes of sand have been transported to all over London to create several different urban beaches, which come along with plenty of beach activities and paraphernalia.  Now I can’t promise you blue skies, hot temperatures and sparkling turquoise seas, but if you’ve decided upon a staycation this summer you could do worse than to take your family or friends to one of these urban beaches. 

Camden Beach

“NW1” and “beach” aren’t usually words you would normally hear in the same sentence, but now this urban beach is being very much talked about!  150 tonnes of sand has been installed on the terrace of the Roundhouse, with deck chairs, beach huts and ping pong tables!   

Cabana’s Copacabana Beach

You’ll find this tribute to Rio’s most famous beach down on the Southbank this summer.  BBQs and cocktails galore!   Great for kids to dig around and build the perfect sandcastle too!   

Beach East

You’ll find this one at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, food outlets and 2 bars will be on hand to keep you refreshed, and kids can keep cool in the paddling pool or be entertained on the fairground rides.   

You will also be able to find beaches in Brixton, Brent Cross, Greenwich and at London’s Royal Docks in E16.  Spoilt for choice! 

Remember to sunbath responsibly and don’t forget your sun cream!


Wonderful Westminster!

The London borough of Westminster is located in the centre of Greater London.  It was created in 1965 and is steeped in history.  The borough of Westminster is 8.21 square miles and has a population of roughly 219,600.  There are many reasons why one might want to live in, or at least visit this diverse and exciting borough of Westminster… 

World renowned landmarks

Westminster is awash with history and stunning architecture.  Within an hour of a leisurely wander you could have seen Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street – to name but a few historical buildings.  For the cultured of you Westminster isn’t lacking in art galleries (National Gallery & Tate Britain), or theatre (you have a plethora of theatres in the West End.).   


If your legs aren’t quite up to it, or you simply don’t have the time to spare, getting about in Westminster by public transport couldn’t be easier.  10 out of the 11 underground lines all stop here and Westminster is serviced by 27 tube stations, and the buses – well you can’t go 5 seconds without spotting a London bus! 

Council Tax

Westminster council tax is the lowest in the country – yup, that’s right, the very lowest!  You might think then that it’s going to be a neglected area but not at all!  Our streets are clean and our parks are beautifully kept! 

Green Space

You might think that living in Westminster would be like living in a concrete jungle, well, I can tell you that you would be very much mistaken.  If you want to go for a run/practise some outside yoga/have a picnic/get away from the hubbub of it all – well you won’t have to travel very far to do so.  The borough of Westminster has a grand total of 116 parks and open spaces to lose yourself in; these include small gardens as well as larger open spaces such as Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park & St James’s Park.   

Davis Brown Estate Agent

You will find the best estate agents and chartered surveyors situated at 1 Margaret Street, W1.  Now you really don’t need any better reason than that to visit Westminster! parkpic