Covent Garden is full of character, centred on its grand piazza, nestling amongst theatres, the opera, museums, luxury shopping, award-winning bars and restaurants, and live entertainment. It’s a luxurious area to splash out on a bit of retail therapy and relax on a balmy summer’s evening.
But it wasn’t always so. From its beginnings in the 17th century, Covent Garden was a bustling traders’ market, with more than its fair share of crime, poverty, inequality and corruption. The market with its theatres, illegal gin taverns and dubious coffee houses created a fascinatingly diverse community, out of which grew innovations in law and order and the establishment of the famous Bow Street Police Station and Magistrates Court, which tried and imprisoned some of the UK’s most famous cases from Oscar Wilde and the suffragettes to the Kray twins and Dr Crippen.
Today, alongside the retail re-incarnation, the grand Magistrates Court building has been transformed into the acclaimed luxury hotel The NoMad, but the police cells and the original court dock have been preserved in a fascinating small museum, revealing an alternative definition of social commerce.
We think Oscar Wilde would have loved the Covent Garden scene today and we will discuss why. With new retailers springing up since the pandemic, we will review these new luxury flagships and discuss how some are creating their most innovative stores yet. We will look at retail trends in general and contrast this with a look back at 17th century innovation and compare the past with the present and what this says about the future.
Our informal soiree is at the new Bow Street Police Museum. Learn the real story behind the famous and not so famous prisoners held in the cells, stand in the original court dock and learn about the infamous Bow Street Runners, London’s original police force.
Our hosts include:
Teresa White (MBA 88D), Chair of the Retail & Consumer Group and Trustee at Bow Street Police Museum is a retail and brand consultant who, having worked in premium retail, now focuses on supporting the burgeoning retail market in the arts, culture and hospitality sectors. She researches retail trends from both a commercial and social perspective, helping retailers to understand the importance of ‘brand relevance’ in a fast-evolving retail climate.
Vicki Pipe from Bow Street Police Museum is the Museum Manager and engagement specialist producing cutting edge programmes, activities and exhibitions. Her interests lie in the stories of people, social change and equality and in advocating for the under-represented and marginalised. She has collaborated with communities from around the world to uncover, interpret and share the stories of the past, present and future.