In situ in Daventry Street

By Michael Prigent

In situ in Daventry Street .

I first came to Daventry Street around 1976 with 'Big John' Cassel and Margot S, my partner at the time. If we had not occupied no.., the street would have fallen into the hands of property speculators who no doubt would have knocked down the dwellings to erect expensive penthouses.  There were already other squatters living in the street.  Notably my friend Paul Moss, the jazz musician. 'Big John' knew ‘Boogie’ the road manager of the Sex Pistols who lived at no 33. So we came through the roof into our building.

One day when we had already settled in, there was a knock on the door. It was an elderly lady. She was not too pleased to have been rehoused in a tower block near Rossmore Street. " I know no one there", she cried. "Here there was a community". She asked us if we had kept the fire and the cookers. We replied that we did. She was over the moon. She said: "If only I could move back in there."

At number 35 where Boogie lived, there was a young American called Kathy Korus who played in a band called the SLITS. 'Big John', whom I mentioned to start with, had played with Woody Mellor, who morphed into Joe Strummer a few years later, in a band called the 101'ERS.  No wonder people were disillusioned with pop stars like Mick Jagger, Led Zep or Elton. No wonder there was a punk revolt around 1976/1977. Eventually the film The Great Rock and Roll Swindle was filmed in Daventry Street (some scenes) and most notably at no 35.

Back to no 35 Daventry Street, Joe Strummer eventually moved in. Often you would see The Clash arrive in their Renault 4L. They would open the doors in true police style, ie all at once. They had seen too many Starsky and Hutch!. The relations with Joe Strummer - or with Woody as we always called him, for that is the name he used when he was with the 101'ers-, became frosty and he left soon after. When that place was vacated around 1985, I went back into the building with Lucy my partner at the time. We found a brand new pair of ranger boots and a book I had given to Strummer, namely the last book of the Situationist International which friends and myself had translated and published. Strummer probably did not read it. If he had he wouldn't have done the Sandinistas album. One day in Bell Street I bumped into him. He was carrying a typewriter and he wanted it repaired. In those days at no 43 there was a typewriter mechanic. He added that it was people at CBS who had wanted that title. That is show business.

As you can see through the years the landscape has changed. From the listings published in some booklets up to the sixties you can notice that all sorts of people lived in every street of London (bakers, cobblers, joiners, etc..) That was at the time when supermarkets did not yet exist.

The street behind Daventry Street is Ranston Street. The name of the original name of the street was changed to Ranston Street. More info: Ranston Street is a rare cobbled stone place. Many films have been shot there, notably an episode of the Sweeney. It is a rare location for period movies.

George Bernard Shaw took up the story and wrote MY FAIR LADY.  In the late fifties it was turned into a film with Audrey Hepburn who plays Eliza Dolittle. " I am from Lisson Grove", she said. Professor Higgins was not impressed with her accent!

Daventry Street changed its name in 1926 from William Street and Union Street.
Ashmill Street changed its name in 1912 from Devonshire Street. The pub on that street The Marquis of Anglesea was already there in 1828.  In fact it had changed its name from the Devonshire Arms (listed in 1822), a cowman lived next door. The Marquis of Anglesea up until recently was known asThe Black Man, some people say it is because chimney sweeps used to drink there , other people point out it is because the Marquis of Anglesea was involved in the slave trade. Soon that pub will be converted into offices...Stephen Street in 1896 became Shroton Street.

On the 2nd of September 1822 The Brazen Head in Lisson Street was listed for the first time. It is the only pub with that name in London. And the pub with the same name is the oldest pub in Dublin.

Michael Bakunin , the Russian revolutionary lived at 10 Paddington Street, now the site of tower blocks!

The Green Man in Edgware road, next to the Edgware Bakerloo Station was listed in 1822. It is still there to this day.

Next to the Archive Bookstore in Bell Street you can see an old street sign called Bendall Street.
Of course this document is only a prelude to a bigger work. You have to start somewhere, so you might as well start with the street where you live.

I look forward to hearing from people who might want to help this street research.
M.P.W. Prigent , 1st of September 2010.

This page was added on 30/10/2010.
Comments about this page

Thank you so much for your research and memories - fascinating. I am also researching this street and others in Lisson Grove. My forebears were born and bred here going back to the 1850s. I hope to write a psychogeographic guide book to the area, so I was especially intrigued to hear of your translation of the Situationists. Please get in touch as I'd like to swap research with you!

By Lily Kingham
On 12/08/2011

My dad lived at 36 Daventry Street when he first arrived as a young man from Bangladesh (East Pakistan pre 1971) from 1963 through to the late 70's until he married my mum and moved to flats on the Lisson Green Estate. I'd love to know if anyone knew him.

By U Rahman
On 02/03/2012

I lived in this street from birth up until 1968. What a lovely childhood we had. We lived at number 31 Daventry Street.

Mum, Dad, Steve, me and Jeff and my youngest brother was born there.

everyone knew each other.  What a safe area at the age of 8 we were going to Regent's Park which was our playground. 

By Elaine
On 03/11/2016

I lived at 29 Daventry Street from 1955 to 1966.

My mum was born there as well at number 9.

had family at 28-31 and 25 Daventry st 

I have photos of my great gran there and street party after the war also picture of residents outside 35 where Joe Strummer lived.

By Terry
On 04/01/2017

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