The poster that helped name a London neighbourhood

By Peter Berthoud

Poster advertising Fitzrovia Festival 1973.

Festival poster. Photo: Peter Berthoud.

It is quite well known that Fitzrovia gained its name from the Fitzroy Tavern and the artistic and literary crowd that hung out there and neighbouring pubs in the 1930s.

The Tavern itself being named after Charles Fitzroy who began developing the area in the 1750s.

But I didn't realise until recently that the name "Fitzrovia" had fallen out of use during the 1950s and 1960s and was only revived in 1973.

The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association have the story on their website. 

“In 1973 the organisers of the first street festival in Charlotte Street wanted to create a title for the Festival. The name Fitzrovia Festival was suggested by Eric Singer a German immigrant who recalled the use of the name in the 1940s. So the name Fitzrovia came back into common currency reinforced by the annual Fitzrovia Festival and people now had a name from which to try to define their neighbourhood.” (From about Fitzrovia London.)

This poster was produced to promote the first annual Fitzrovia Festival and its beautiful design did much to publicise and popularise the use of the name. I was lucky enough to find an original poster during my research for my new tour: “Walk Every Street in Fitzrovia in a Day”. The designer of the poster was Nancy Fouts of Shirt Sleeve Studio.

Peter Berthoud is leading “Walk Every Street in Fitzrovia in a Day” Saturday 5 July 2014, 10am – 5.30pm. More details here.

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