St James’s Church Piccadilly Clock-tower

Converted ciné film of the transport from Essex to central London, and erection at St James’s Church Piccadilly, of the new clock-tower, spire and weathervane. Filmed one Sunday morning in (we believe) 1968. The original clock-tower, spire and weathervane were destroyed in a bombing raid in 1940.

Note the health & safety risks taken by the steeplejacks! Not a hard-hat to be seen and high level steeplejacking without safety lines (often with cigarette in mouth). This is pre-Health and Safety at Work Act 1974! Also interesting to note how little Jermyn Street has changed in almost fifty years.

Published with the kind permission of Robin Draper, formerly of Drapers Transport of Grays, Essex. Thank you Robin for this unique addition to the St James’s Church Piccadilly story.

As a side note, our market manager Costas Benopoulos-Jones and Robin Draper met by chance. They fell into conversation and the existence of this historic, hitherto unpublished, film came to light.

Ashley Ashworth

We report with regret that the Head Verger at St James’s Church Piccadilly, Ashley Ashworth, is to leave in July 2015. Ashley has been a friend of Piccadilly Market for many years. He will be sorely missed. He has worked tirelessly, come rain or shine, to make the market clean, safe, welcoming and efficient. Here’s wishing Ashley the very best for the future.

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Money Money Money

Three stories recently of Londoners resisting gentrification and the “corporatisation” of the city — transforming London from being “turbulent, chaotic, fantastically creative, brimming with a sense of freedom” into a museum fit only for the super-rich (and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Singapore Airport).

First, our very own St James’s resident and friend of St James’s Church and Piccadilly Market, Stephen Fry is campaigning against the cultural evisceration of Soho.

Second, residents of the New Era estate in east London fought and won a battle royal against the millionaire executives of Westbrook Partners who wanted to sell their estate, evict families and triple rents.

Third, a vigorous anti-gentrification skirmish has blown up in Brixton over plans to evict dozens of much-loved independent local businesses, opening the way for chains to take their place and pay inflated rents.

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These stories make it even more important for Piccadilly Market to survive and prosper: trading fifty weeks a year without interruption, adding the spice, vitality and eccentricity to central London which only a street market peopled by independent traders can provide.

Let’s hear it for London’s independent traders! And for ethical landlords, such as St James’s Church Piccadilly, who make such activity possible!

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Piccadilly Market — Choice for All

piccadilly-market-st-james-church-34St James’s and Mayfair have been wealthy London districts for many years. From the gentlemen’s clubs on Pall Mall to Fortum’s to The Ritz to eye-wateringly expensive Mayfair houses and flats to corporate headquarters in St James’s Square… the area oozes cash.

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In recent times this concentration of money has piled even higher. ‘Prime’ has given way to ‘super-prime.’ Land and rental values have rocketed, a major regeneration has occurred, various quirky, eccentric and independent businesses have been squeezed out, and the chains have consolidated their grip.

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At the centre of this tsunami of cash is the tranquil island of St James’s Church Piccadilly. There is a counselling caravan and a night shelter for the homeless. An eclectic schedule of events from Alternatives. A programme of classical music using the fine church acoustics for regular (free) lunchtime concerts and (ticketed) evening recitals. There is a beautiful garden: gifted to Londoners for their courage during the Blitz.

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A market of independent traders operates in the courtyard six days a week, fifty weeks a year with additional stalls on Jermyn Street. There has been a market at St James’s Church for over thirty years; the only permanent general market in London W1.

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Piccadilly Market is a flagship for economic inclusion, diversity and choice within the local ‘super-prime’ economy. The market is a classic social enterprise — a business driven by a social purpose — with rents supporting the work of the church.

Not everyone who visits or works in St James’s is able, or wishes, to engage in economic ‘super-prime’ activity. Piccadilly Market caters for all and provides independent traders with commercial opportunities in London’s West End, from which they otherwise would be excluded.

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Food at Piccadilly Market

piccadilly-market-foodAs central London property prices have boomed, the greasy spoons have disappeared. Yet not everyone who works in the West End or visits can afford, or wishes to consume, sirloin steak and a dozen oysters for lunch.

There used to be a choice in St James’s of independent traders catering to all palates and pockets. That choice has all but disappeared, expelled by the property boom and the chains. Except for Shepherds Markets.

Every Monday and Tuesday in the courtyard of St James’s Church Piccadilly a food market blooms. The dishes are delicious, multinational and economical. Customers can take food away or eat in the Grade I listed courtyard and gardens (St James’s is a Sir Christopher Wren masterpiece).

There’s nothing wrong with lunching at The Ritz or exploring the Fortnum’s menu. But sometimes high price luxury food served by immaculate waiters doesn’t hit the spot.

Thank you Shepherds Markets and your independent traders for plugging the gap and keeping choice alive.

p.s. There is also a food stall hidden away on Jermyn Street at the back of St James’s Church, five days a week, Monday to Friday inclusive. See the ShepherdsMkts and PiccadillyMart twitter feeds for details.

God & Markets #2

As mentioned elsewhere, there’s a long tradition of attending prayers — at church, mosque, synagogue or temple — and then shopping at a market. All over the world the grounds of religious buildings are used for commercial purposes, with the money raised used to support religious structures and social enterprises.

A few miles south of Piccadilly Market is St Mark’s Church Kennington, one of the four “Waterloo” churches built in south London following the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Each Saturday in the grounds of St Mark’s is held a thriving farmers’ market:

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A market is also held at another of the “Waterloo” churches: St Luke’s in West Norwood:

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