Seventeen members gathered at Piccadilly Circus on a pleasantly warm and sunny Thursday evening. Stuart took us on a 90 minute guided tour of various West End haunts of Holmes and Watson. The area was busy with tourists, al fresco drinkers and traffic but luckily Stuart has a loud voice and was able to make himself heard above the hubbub. Starting at the Criterion restaurant where the fictional duo first met, we headed first to the Café Royal where Holmes was beaten up in “The Illustrious Client”; then down Haymarket, pausing at the Theatre Royal, used as an alibi for a murder in “The Red Circle”. We stopped at Craig’s Court, off Whitehall, former site of Cox and Co military banker, where Watson stored his papers. We passed the site of Scotland Yard and the Sherlock Holmes pub where Sir Henry Baskerville had one of his boots stolen in “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.
Crossing Northumberland Avenue we passed the Turkish Baths in Craven Passage, another hang out of the pair. Into the Strand and the site of Coutts Bank used to be an arcade where Holmes bought his first Stradivarius violin. Next stop was the site of the former Charing Cross Hospital where Holmes was carried after the Café Royal attack. Some of our members remembered it as being in a slightly different place (though I don’t think any of them date back quite as far as Holmes and Watson). We passed Simpson in the Strand, one of Holmes and Watson’s favourite haunts (they specialise in traditional English fayre). Stuart pointed out the offices in Burleigh street from which the Strand Magazine first published the Sherlock Holmes stories. Finally we headed up Wellington Street, pausing at the third pillar from the left at the Lyceum Theatre where the great man had arranged a meeting with a lady in “The Sign of Four”. We passed the Royal Opera House which Holmes frequented regularly and ended the tour at Bow Street Police Court which featured in “The Man with the Twisted Lip” and was also where Oscar Wilde was held on charges of gross indecency and the Artful Dodger was brought for stealing a handkerchief. The group dispersed and a few of us ended up at the FreeMason’s Arms for liquid refreshment before heading home. Thanks very much to Stuart for all his research.