red-lion.jpgGreat Windmill Street isn’t that great a street really. A couple of exotic dancing dives, The Fabulous Windmill Theatre*, and a few ropey restaurants and bars. But it did used to be a one hundred yard drag which was home to four pubs. The two bookending pubs (St James Tavern and the Duke Of Argyle) are still there. But as previously reported The Lyric is now shuttered up, and the Red Lion over the road has also undergone an attack of the boards.

Perhaps this street was too short to maintain so much pubbage. Perhaps, and while we regret the loss of the Lyric, the Red Lion is no great loss. An odd pub which was too square for its own good, I think I only crossed its threshold once – during a rainbow pub crawl. And thinking back, there are better Red Lion’s I could have chosen in Soho even for that pub crawl. But it was more spacious that any of the other pubs on the street, and was handily located near the leering “exotic dancers” trying to entice men inside their unregulated knocking shops by rubbing themselves unpleasantly on their door-frames. Perhaps this was why they closed, or just because they had not regular clientele. They clearly picked up none from the Lyric, and being surrounded by Sam Smith’s gaffs only helps if you have a good rep for
a) Real ale
b) Wine
The Red Lion had neither. What it does have is history as red as its titular lion.

Oh, it is probably a casualty of the Mitchell & (Webb) Butler affair, but the boarded up windows seem particularly dramatic on this street. With another closed pub on the street and two closed shops, it starts to look like a depression. What would Mrs Henderson say?

*Big picture of a naughties fifties pin-up girl next to the slogan “The Most Exclusive Gentleman’s Club In The World” hanging over the road to the Red Lion may also have numbered its days.