For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.
Goodbye Piccadilly (06.10.09)
When was the last time you had your inside leg measured? Or for that matter you were asked rather discreetly “and what side does Sir dress?”
One of the last bastions of sartorial elegance is hanging up its tape measure for the last time at the end of the year. Baron of Piccadilly one of London’s quirkier outfitters is to close, as Crown Estates their landlord plans to pull down their block for re-development.
Further along the road was Simpsons of Piccadilly, now a Waterstones book store. Simpsons opened in 1936 in what is now a listed building the Art Deco design was the first shop in Britain to have an uninterrupted curved-glass frontage. This new style was made possible by arc-welding a wide-span steel frame, rather than earlier techniques which involved using bulky bolted joints.
The company built as a quality clothing store specifically for men had the ethos that Simpson of Piccadilly was to be a purveyor of “quality clothes for the well-heeled”. Indeed, the store regularly attracted the ‘tweed set’ including Royals, MPs, dignitaries and country landowners.
During the early 1950s, scriptwriter Jeremy Lloyd was employed as a junior assistant at Simpsons; he drew on his experiences to come-up with the idea for the highly-popular television sitcom Are You Being Served?
At least Fortnums are still in Piccadilly, the store that gave you such exotic foods as Harts Horn; Gable Worm Seed; Saffron and Dirty White Candy, and incidentally were the first in 1886 to stock the entire output of a Mr Heinz’s newly invented canned food.