Words Kirk Truman
Photography Adedoton Adesanya
“The character of anywhere, especially in London and all of the places that I’ve worked in over the years, is that they have an identity and a personality. That’s the beauty of London and Fitzrovia…”
There are many familiar figures in the Fitzrovia neighbourhood, all of them current, all of them present. Roaming between Scandinavian Kitchen and the table fronts of The Attendant, you may encounter the familiar positivity and quirkiness, quite appropriately dressed in Oliver Spencer attire. Born in the Middlesex Hospital some years ago, I present to you the unique perspective of a Fitzrovia-cross-East Midlands gentleman who offers a rare glimpse at the character and personality of our neighbourhood, from past to present. Laurence Glynne details to me his Fitzrovia birthplace, the former Fitzrovia rag-trade, interweaved in our conversation about our upbringing in the East Midlands.
Laurence was raised with a Jewish background and, for much of his youth, he grew up in Nottingham. At the time of his birth his parents were living with his grandmother, originally from Russia, in a rented property on Notting Hill Gate. “My Dad came out of the army, my Mum was pregnant and I was born, I have a twin sister,” says Laurence. Due to a growing sense of anti-Semitism which followed on from the Second World War, the family changed their name from Goldstein to Glynne. His father was working in the rag-trade when Laurence was just 18 months old when his father had a job opportunity in the same trade in Nottingham. To keep the family together, they decided to move together.
When Laurence was in his teens, his father brought him back to his birthplace and routes, Fitzrovia. His father showed him the epicentre of the Fitzrovia rag-trade. He recalls Riding House Street, Great Portland Street and the huge thriving Jewish community in Fitzrovia at the time. He was also reintroduced to his birthplace, the Middlesex Hospital, currently being replaced by Fitzroy Place. “I think that, as long as the history of the Middlesex Hospital remains, so will the spirit of the area. For local people and people coming to the area it is important for them to know what the site is all about,” he says of his feelings on the current building site.
After finishing his studies in Hotel Management and Business Studies at Ealing in the 1970s, Laurence returned to his West-End birthplace. Initially he thought about using his knowledge to start working in marketing, but taking his passion for cooking, he finally decided to pursue a career in catering. After working many jobs such as in the kitchen at Coq D’or, as a waiter at Connaunght Hotel and also at the BBC in catering he found himself working in property for a number of companies in the West-End. He worked for Keith Cardale Groves and Anscombe and Ringland where worked and gaining his first experience in his field. This new direction was far removed from his career hopes. In the late ‘80s he decided that he either wanted to get out of the business or ‘start his own thing’ in residential property. And so, Laurence founded ‘LDG’ (an acronym of his full name, Laurence David Glynne) in 1987, a place situated on Marylebone’s Queen Anne Street, at the heart of the West-End comprise at the time of little more than a desk and a word processor. His company has also been based on Marylebone Lane, South Molton Street but, today, it’s situated right here in Fitzrovia, on the corner of Foley Street and Candover Street. Laurence tells me that “for this period of time, over about 5 years, we had been concentrating in on the area that I passionately love: starting in Marylebone, through to Fitzrovia, Covent Garden and Soho. Each of these areas has a wonderful identity. Even today there are very few agents that I think know these individual areas in terms of their own intrinsic character. That’s what we love about them, the variety.”
Due to his passion for the West-End and those ‘villages’ that he feels it’s comprised, Laurence decided to settle his business on the doorstep of his birthplace, where LDG now operates. “The character of anywhere, especially in London and all of the places that I’ve worked in over the years, is that they have an identity and a personality. That’s the beauty of London and Fitzrovia. I recently came back from a trip to New York, one of the things I love so much about New York and equally about London is that it’s made up of a combination of villages. Each area (Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Mid-Town and Up-Town) has its own character and feel. That is something that is equally reflected in Fitzrovia and it’s neighbouring villages,” he remarks. Laurence talks of the character of Fitzrovia, its differentiation between Marylebone, Bloomsbury, the loud of Soho and the glitz of Mayfair.
I find his motive for starting his business here in the neighbourhood fascinating. As I engage with various members of the Fitzrovia community it enthralls me to find the connections between the characters of our neighbourhood unearthed, their stories intertwined. In the case of Laurence Glynne, he is a rare example of a rather jolly gentleman who doesn’t know how to stop in his tracks, who knows only how to strive for that he believes in. When he isn’t raving to me about his passion for Arsenal and Nottingham Forest Football teams, I find Laurence talking of his sheer love and admiration for the neighbourhood that has given him so much, not to mention his birth.