Entering from D’Arblay Street, the first thing you notice is an old “ghost” sign for R N Cattle & Son Limited. Mr Cattle and his colleagues were woodworkers. The sign is not as old as it looks. The company dates from before World War Two but hit the skids in the 1970’s and was liquidated in September 1979.
You walk along a passageway that brings you into a wider open space – more the shape of a classic London court than a mews, in fact – surrounded by warehouses.
These were previously used by Berwick Street Market stall holders to store their wares but they are now converted into loft style offices for film production and post-production companies including Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow.
The mews narrows once again at the southern side into a passageway that takes you through into Livonia (formerly Bentinck) Street.
The Mews’ origins go back to the eighteenth century. A rectangular package of rural land between what is know Oxford Street down to the back of Broadwick Street (Wardour Street to the east, back of Poland Street to the west) was called Doghouse Close when William III granted it to the Earl of Portland, whose family name was Bentinck. They in turn and in time, allowed the development of the area along two streets, Noel Street, which remains to this day and Portland Street (renamed D’Arblay Street). Not surprisingly, they named some of those thoroughfares after themselves including Portland Mews which was probably built in the 1730’s.
There is a lovely video of Harvey Gould’s Soho which includes a visit to the mews (at around 10:48) and his youthful memories of playing cricket in it and of Mr Cattle, the woodworker.