The Story of Soho
The Windmill Years 1932-1964
- Mike Hutton
15th March 2012
An entertaining history of this fascinating London district.
Soho has always been a source of fascination. A district quite unlike any other in London, where glamour meets squalor and then often merges. It is different, never mirroring the changes of its more fashionable neighbours. It seduces and destroys in equal measures. The Windmill Theatre opened in 1932 and, after entertaining audiences through thirty-two years of dramatic change in Soho, finally closed its doors in 1964. In this book, the Windmill forms the backdrop against which Mike Hutton explores all the diversity taking place in the surrounding streets of this unique district during a period of social and moral change. There is the influence of the many nationalities living there during the years leading up to the war. Organised crime existing alongside leading West End theatres and restaurants. The arrival of the GIs with money to burn and time on their hands. The black market booms. Want some nylons? How about a gun? No problem. Falling bombs bring terror, but there is still time to party. Then it's all over and, nationally, austerity takes hold, but never quite in Soho. The squeaky clean Windmill girls are joined by models baring all in the burgeoning strip clubs. There is money to be made, dodgy policemen to be paid off, and violence simmers away to a background of music.