In each issue of Eustontowner we aim to get under the skin of a different part of the area.
Last month our focus was Chalton Street, and now it’s the turn of Drummond Street, now mostly known for its concentration of Bengali restaurants.
Below we’ve dug out a dozen facts you may not know about the stretch – and elsewhere we’ve also published a complete directory of what to do, where to eat and shop.
1. The street was built in the 1820s and originally known as Charles Street East after Charles Fitzroy, 1st Baron Southampton.
2. It was renamed in 1865 after Lady Caroline Drummond, a great-granddaughter of well-known politician, bohemian and all-round do-gooder the 2nd Duke of Grafton.
3. The Beatles found their Sergeant Pepper Jackets at army surplus store Laurence Corner, which occupied what is now a pharmacy on the western corner for many years. Other fans of the shop included Kate Moss and Jean-Paul Gaultier. It also provided costumes and props for Hollywood blockbusters like Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and hit Sunday night 1980s satire Spitting Image. When its founder Victor Jamilly died in 2007, it had to close.
4. On the opposite corner stood the Lord Palmerston pub: glance up and you can still see the lovely old ghost signage. It became the still experimental Camden Peoples Theatre in 1994, which is going strong, and has attracted stars like Bob Hoskins and Sir John Gielgud amongst others.
5. Tolmers Square lies just off Drummond Street and is a strangely surreal, leafy oasis moments from the Euston Road. Once a reservoir serving the West End, and later baths and wash-houses, in 1863 the whole lot was demolished and laid out for housing. A church was also built in the square, which later became a cinema in 1924 (bomb damage led to its eventual closure). What you see now was built in the late 1970s and includes a pub, the Square Tavern, that’s still open, and serves basic pub grub and craft beers.
6. Don’t miss the striking ox-blood-red ghost station at the eastern end. This used to be Euston station, which opened in 1907, on what was known once as Hampstead tube. But this building was only used till 1914, and now houses an electricity substation.
7. Drummond Street used to continue north-east, through what is now Euston station. On this stretch was the main entrance to the station and the site of the Euston Arch. However, the eastern part of Drummond Street vanished when Euston station was rebuilt in 1961 and extended southwards. The arch demolished, the far north-eastern part of Drummond Street was renamed as Doric Way, commemorating the imposing edifice.
8. Admire the wrought-iron gateway at the western end. We often do. Leading to George Mews, it was once the entry to a timber yard, and later a printing works.
9. Before the current wonderful selection of mostly Bengali restaurants along the street, did you know it was home to lots of small-scale manufacturing firms?
10. Diwana is allegedly the first South Indian vegetarian restaurant in Britain, having opened in 1970.
11. The Crown & Anchor is a dominant Grade II-listed 1820s building.
12. As a schoolboy, author Charles Dickens and his mates were partial to pretending to be beggars on Drummond Street, asking old ladies for charity and then running away. Naughty buggers.