When work started on Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road and then the redevelopment of the iconic Centrepoint tower, the 29 bus route, amongst others, was redirected. It used to turn right at the south end of Gower Street, by then Bloomsbury Street, along New Oxford Street, passed the front of Centrepoint then left down Charing Cross Road. Instead it now carries on, turning right at the Shaftesbury Theatre along St Giles High Street, stopping outside the eponymous church, before continuing along Denmark Street then left on to Charing Cross Road. It was only through often taking the 29 bus and alighting at this stop that we noticed, just beside St Giles church, after the bus stop, a short, narrow street which then becomes a passageway running down on the right side of the set store and studio (first picture above). The first time we followed the passage we emerged at railings enclosing an overgrown, sadly neglected looking area with a battered sign identifying it as Phoenix Gardens.
Over the following months/year, possibly longer, we’d only occasionally been back and weren’t aware of any change. Then, a couple of weeks ago we saw an advert for the ‘Phoenix Gardens Agricultural Show and St Giles Fayre’ and it was wonderful to see how the community garden has been sensitively reclaimed from the wild and, with the addition of an attractive building which is available for hire, is now open again. All within a few hundred yards of hustle and bustle of Centrepoint and Oxford Street.
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