Vine Street, Westminster
The most obscure location on the British Monopoly board, branching off Swallow Street in the apex formed by Piccadilly and Regent Street
The name seems to derive from the Vine public house, which existed in the 18th century and probably earlier, when the street was longer than it is now; the section that remains today was originally Little Vine Street.
Vine Street was formerly best known for its police station, which came into existence with the creation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829.
It was to Vine Street police station, said to have been the busiest in the world, that the Marquess of Queensberry was taken in March 1895 to be charged with criminal libel against Oscar Wilde, thus setting in train the series of events that eventually led to Wilde’s imprisonment.
Vine Street police station remained here (in rebuilt form) until the opening of West End Central police station on Savile Row in 1940. Shortly after this the street’s name was changed to Piccadilly Place.
Owing to a shortage of space at West End Central, the old police station reopened in 1971 and Westminster council agreed to resurrect the street’s original identity, so that the station could retain the Vine Street name.
Vine Street police station has recently been replaced by a mixed-use development and the streetscape (what little there is of it) has been enhanced. Faintly visible on the satellite map below, Piccadilly Place is now merely a narrow alley connecting Vine Street with Piccadilly.
In the stories of PG Wodehouse, delinquent toffs are usually carted off to Vine Street police station.
Postal district: W1
Blog post: Vine Street: smoke yourself to a dead end
Most of the text on this page is taken from Brewer’s Dictionary of London Phrase and Fable