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Adam Dant’s Club Row

January 20, 2021
by the gentle author

In 2018, Adam Dant – the last artist on Redchurch St – was evicted from his studio on Club Row which has sat empty since then. In this series of watercolours, Adam contemplates the transformation of the place through time.

Roman Club Row Two Roman legionaries find a hiding place on Club Row as Boudica and her army parade down Ermine St (Shoreditch High St) to lay siege to London.

Medieval Club Row A ramshackle brick makers dwelling on the ‘swanfields’ with the tower of St Mary’s Spittal in the distance.

Tudor Club Row Archers such as ‘The Duke of Shoreditch’ practice and compete at ‘The Butts’ outside the city walls. The tower of Old St Paul’s can be seen in the distance as well as Shakespeare’s ‘Theatre’.

Georgian Club Row It is recorded that a ‘Rabbet shop’ stood on the site of 15 Club Row in the eighteenth century though it is not recorded whether the rabbits were sold for meat or fur, or both.

Victorian Club Row The owners and family of the nineteenth century sweet shop on Club Row lived in the tiny rooms above the shop.

Thirties Club Row Residents of the Boundary Estate – such as Joan Rose – recall buying pickled cucumbers from the window of a fried fish shop at 15 Club Row.

Forties Club Row Like much of the East End during the blitz, buildings on Club Row were destroyed or partially destroyed. Some say that unexploded ordinance is still buried under the streets.

Sixties Club Row  ‘The Peppermint Lounge’ on Club Row, according to many elderly cab drivers, was the place in London where a new dance craze called ‘The Twist’ emerged. It is not known what was enjoyed by visitors to the ‘Club Mirage’ or – in fact – how much the club lived up to its name.

Seventies Club Row The smell of blow-torched chickens once greeted shoppers who entered the portals of ‘Gongo Grocer’ where the Bengali butcher spent his days gutting, boning and singeing poultry.

Eighties Club Row Like all the Bengali Mini Cab offices in the area the ‘Fully Insuranced Tower Cars’ was replete with a huge aerial on the roof. Unfortunately, the mast seriously interfered with the television signals of neighbours leading to regular altercations.

Nineties Club Row As ‘The Gallerette,’ 15 Club Row played host to exhibitions and art extravaganzas when the area became a popular haunt for a young artistic crowd. One such exhibition was ‘God’s Largest Creature’, a life-size photocopy of an elephant by Keith Farquar. An invitation was extended to one of Chipperfield’s Elephants and to Glasgow’s Black Rose drinking club who enjoyed bottles of Elephant beer.

Twenty-twenties Club Row  In July 2018 the planning department approved the demolition of the ‘Atelier Dant’ at number 15 for the construction of what in the the recent past might have been called a ‘yuppie flat,’ yet nothing has occurred since then apart from a predictable accumulation of graffiti.

Adam’s Dant’s woodcut of ‘Arnold Circus as Mount Olympus’ is featured in this year’s Royal Academy Show




Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND is a mighty monograph collecting together all your favourite works by Spitalfields Life‘s Contributing Cartographer in a beautiful big hardback book.

Including a map of London riots, the locations of early coffee houses and a colourful depiction of slang through the centuries, Adam Dant’s vision of city life and our prevailing obsessions with money, power and the pursuit of pleasure may genuinely be described as ‘Hogarthian.’

Unparalleled in his draughtsmanship and inventiveness, Adam Dant explores the byways of London’s cultural history in his ingenious drawings, annotated with erudite commentary and offering hours of fascination for the curious.

The book includes an extensive interview with Adam Dant by The Gentle Author.

Adam Dant’s limited edition prints are available to purchase through TAG Fine Arts

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Jill Wilson permalink
    January 20, 2021

    Brilliant drawings which could be a great way of teaching the history and evolution of the East End.

    The final drawing came as a horrible shock, but again it would be a good way of illustrating just how much of the area is under threat from the greedy developers.

    It must be incredibly frustrating for Adam that nothing has happened on the site – he must feel that he was evicted for no good reason. I hope he has found a new studio to work in, and will continue to delight us with his unique visions.

  2. Boudica Redd permalink
    January 20, 2021

    Oh dear sorry to read about Adam’s plight about being evicted from his dwelling what a great artist we hope he fynds suitable accommodation soon it seems thee powers that be won’t stop until all thee great people are gone from thee area shame on them

  3. paul loften permalink
    January 20, 2021

    Wonderful depiction of the history of Club Row with such evocative drawings. I recall, on Sundays, at the Bishopsgate end, in the late’60s and early 70’s there was a speaker on a soapbox from the BUF or it could have been the National Front that attracted a crowd. I think it more likely BUF as they were on about Oswald Moseley. There were frequent hecklers and incidents. Unfortunately, the hecklers were unaware that a van load of ex boxers, were patiently waiting around the corner for the first heckler to open their mouth

  4. Mark permalink
    January 20, 2021

    Superlative and highly skilled artist. I take my inadequate hat off to you sir.

  5. ken sequin permalink
    January 20, 2021

    I can attest to the mini cab’s ariel being an annoyance and as the warehouse half in Club Row and Old Nichol st was once used for pickling it makes sense across the way at Nr 15 pickles were sold. also I can verify the one time prescience of a dance hall In the old pickle warehouse. as fer popularising the ‘Twist’ i am unable to verify.

  6. Steve Shinners permalink
    January 20, 2021

    Lovely story and illustrations

  7. Ros permalink
    January 20, 2021

    What a brilliant set of drawings, wit, history lessons and entertainment all rolled into one. The more you explore the details the more history you get. And I love the woodcut of Arnold Circus as Mount Olympos – great that it’s being shown at this year’s RA.

  8. Cherub permalink
    January 20, 2021

    Absolutely loved this entertaining romp through history, also the great illustrations.

  9. January 21, 2021

    I just adore this site. Stellar posts! Thank you.

  10. January 21, 2021

    Shameful when residents get evicted from properties, only for the same properties to then remain vacant. Wonderful images in the drawings above though, and smiled at the visual image of blow-torch chickens. I just hope the latter were dead before the blow-torch was turned on!

  11. Thelma Hobden permalink
    March 26, 2021

    I remember visiting Club Row in the fifties on a Sunday morning for what we’d now call a car boot sale. Lots of stuff laid out on the ground for crowds to pick over. I think it must have been a bomb site.

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