A blog about life in London

5 Interesting Facts About Soho From The Archives

5 Interesting Facts About Soho From The Archives

This is a guest post by Cheryl from  london-history.com.

John Curtis opened the first ear hospital in Soho {now Pizza Express} with no medical experience. Instead he used two watches one, quiet and one loud to dupe his patients into thinking they had been cured. John Harris Curtis, would present the quiet watch to the patient and ask if they could hear anything. When they said no he would inject a syringe of hot water into their ear and after a moment present the load ticking watch. Of course, the tick was now more audible and he exclaimed the patient had been cured.


Quo Vardis in Soho was first opened by Leoni, and Italian chef in 1926 with a £800 bank loan. It was a risky place to open and Italian restaurant at the time, Soho was well known for corrupt policing and organised crime in alcohol and prostitution among Italian Restaurant owners. At one point a police officer tried to black mail Leoni into renting out the top of Quo Vardis for prostitutes.


Karl Marx also used to live in Quo Vardis. He lodged with his family in two rooms at the top of the building. Sadly three out of five of his children died in their infancy during this time.


Nusa Dua restaurant in Soho was the center of a mass letter scam in 1865. The fake company “Guardian of the Family General Assurance Company” sent out letters to recent widows in Paris informing them that the recently departed had outstanding debt owed. The widows, distressed and ashamed would sent hundreds of euros to the company who amassed a fortune.


Maya Nightclub in Soho was one of the buildings used in the Spa Field Riots, the first every mass gathering of protesters and the reason the gagging acts where put in place.

For more interesting facts about London check out London-History.com.

Thanks to wheatfields, 85332333@N08, thed34n, mmitchell and 12856222@N00 for the photos from flickr.