This is a short little passageway between a couple of the posh shops that line a similarly named lane just off Bond Street.

What was originally called South Moulton Row was laid out in the 1720s by the Grosvenor family, but initially, only with buildings on the eastern side. The western side, where this passage can be found was added later as a housing development by the City of London, but later converted into shops and offices.

The odd diagonal of the road compared to all the other streets in the area is thanks to what’s beneath it. It sits above the route of the River Tyburn, which still runs in a culverted sewer below the pavement.

The passageway has always been there, showing up in 1799 as a short gap between the buildings, possibly uncovered along the entire passage. By the later 1800s, it has gained the covered passage appearance it has today as the northern side building was probably rebuilt and extended over the alley.

It wasn’t the posh shopping area we know today though. According to Goad’s Insurance Maps, the southern side building was occupied by a builder who also occupied the 1st-floor overhang, and a decorator had the northern building. Other buildings in the area were occupied by printers, saddle makers, wax chandlers, and light industry.

Although the passage is Georgian in origins, the rear of the buildings are largely 19th-century additions, and the timber cladding is modern.

At the moment, the alley is a bit shabby in appearance by comparison to the rest of the area, but change is afoot.

The area is about to be changed once more though, as the large block of buildings behind South Molton Street are to be redeveloped, while the shops facing into South Molton Street will get back shops as well facing onto the currently blank South Molton Lane.

When that happens, it’s likely that this little alley will become considerably busier as a link between two rows of posh shops.

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  1. Ralph Sassen says:

    Very interesting.

  2. Tony Mansell says:

    I used to work above a shop on South Molton St, anyways one time I was going thru this passage on crutches due to a broken leg when one of the crutches went thru one of those glass panels that was broken . I went over and hurt myself quite a bit. I complained but everyone, shop owners, landlords and so on, blamed each other and I gave up. I wasn’t after money just an acknowledgement and to maybe fix it. I dare say they are still broken.

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