Warren Street

Warren Street, Camden

A 400-yard-long (originally) Georgian street running westwards off the northern end of Tottenham Court Road

Former Welsh dairy, now a café

In the latter part of the 18th century this was an unnamed track providing rear access to the newly built properties on what is now Euston Road.

Warren Street itself was laid out with three-storey terraces in the 1790s by Charles Fitzroy, first Baron Southampton. Variations in archi­tec­tural detail have led to sugges­tions that several specu­lative builders may have been involved in the project. The grade II listed property shown in the photo­graph above* was built c.1793 and the ground floor was converted to a dairy shop c.1916. As you can probably discern, it’s now a café.

Fitzroy named Warren Street after his wife, Anne Warren (1737–1807). She was the daughter of Admiral Sir Peter Warren, who founded New York’s Greenwich Village and gave his name to more than one Warren Street in America.

Like other parts of what is now north Fitzrovia, the new street soon became a popular place of residence for artists, especially engravers.

In the early 1880s the radical MP Sir Charles Dilke was accused of conducting an adulterous affair in a rented room on Warren Street. George Bernard Shaw later suggested that this scandal had inspired his choice of the protagonist’s name in his play Mrs Warren’s Profession.

The former Warren Street frontage of French’s theatre bookshop, seen in 2013
The former Warren Street frontage of Samuel French’s theatre bookshop bookshop

The street’s Northern line station opened in 1907, originally as Euston Road, but this was changed to Warren Street within a year. The station’s 1930s stone façade is by Charles Holden.

In 1967 Warren Street became the Victoria line’s southern terminus for the first three months of the line’s existence.

For much of the 20th century Warren Street was famed for its used car dealers, some of whom operated from showrooms while others simply sold dodgy motors parked on the pavement. Though trade was brisk, the street’s built envir­onment deteri­orated because upper floors were often left unoccupied. The dealers departed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Samuel French’s theatre bookshop stood at the corner of Fitzroy Street from 1830 until 2017, when it was forced to close owing to “an unsus­tainable rental increase.” There should be some kind of legally enforced rent control for shops over 100 years old, in Hidden London’s opinion.

Warren Street now possesses a diverse mixture of retailers and providers of profes­sional services. Among the most noteworthy insti­tu­tions is Tavistock Relationships. On a related subject, Coffee, Cake & Kisses – which has been called a ‘relation­ships café’ – is TripAdvisor’s No.1 rated London café at the time of writing (June 2018). This open-minded, non-judge­mental space is located at 54 Warren Street.

In March 2013 Camden council perman­ently closed Warren Street to through traffic, to prevent its use as a rat-run.

The mosaic murals on the Victoria line platforms at Warren Street feature a maze (in fact, a warren) created by Alan Fletcher. The labyrinth was designed to be hard to navigate in less than four minutes, thus setting a challenge to passengers: Can you escape before your train arrives?

Postal district: W1
Station: Northern and Victoria lines (zone 1)
Further reading: Marc Mulholland, The Murderer of Warren Street: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Revolutionary, Hutchinson, 2018
* The picture of the former Welsh dairy at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.