Is Cork Street Finished?

Rent Rises and Retail Gentrification Could Displace Art Galleries

Cork Street in Mayfair, London is about to suffer the nail in the coffin that has plagued much of the area including Dover and Old Bond Street, the identikit retail gentrification treatment. Standard Life have announced that they are putting part of their extensive property portfolio on Cork Street up for sale. This would scatter up to 20 art galleries including The Mayor Gallery which was the first gallery on Cork Street in 1925.

Selling this huge development would destroy almost 90 years of history. Cork Street is renowned throughout the world as an art collectors paradise and clients come from around the world to come and see, and buy art there. Students come from around the UK to study there and its location to the Royal Academy make it a convenient and very central place for them to do so.

Destroying over half the street to make room for Bond Street fashion retailers and hedgefunding businesses would destroy what has become one of London’s cultural heritages. Bond Street fashion can stay on Bond Street. Like Savile Row is famous for tailors, Cork Street is famous for Art. It has become a London landmark and we should leave it this way.

Cork Street was traditionally known as the home of the finest commercial art galleries in Britain. It is located to the north of Burlington House which houses the Royal Academy, a leading British art institution. Immediately to the east and running parallel to Cork Street are Dover and Old Bond Street known as the traditional heartland of the British gallery establishment.

Cork Street is part of the Burlington Estates developed from the 18th century. The first Earl of Burlington, Richard Boyle second Earl of Cork (1612–1698), hence the name, after the city of Cork n south western Ireland. The street in particular and the area in general was associated with tailors. For example, Beau Brummell  (1778–1840), who introduced the flamboyant form of gentleman’s fashion in Regency London that became known as dandyism , patronised tailors in Cork Street and its surrounding area. Savile Row, not far from Cork Street to the east, is now the street most associated with high-quality gentleman’s tailors today. In the 20th century, the street became associated with the art world, partly due to its proximity with the Royal Academy to the south. Many British-based artists have exhibited in Cork Street over the years.

Please sign up and help petition against yet more corporate greed that will turn this cultural hub into yet another faceless and bland part of the city and help Cork Street maintain its position on the Art world map. Threatening to raise rents will also drive the galleries out. We ask for a substantial lease on these properties so that we can stay here for years to come. As a regular visitor to Cork Street, I am amazed at the apparent disregard for the historical value, public appreciation, art lovers, artists and all those people who have heard of the reputation of this internationally renowned and valued street, so close to the Royal Academy. The diversity and quality of art in these galleries seems to count for nothing. I am appalled at the idea of developing this area – just for once, let things stay as they are! Cork Street is part of our cultural heritage – it offers an oasis of individual galleries that show great art that enhance our lives. It attracts clients from all around the world and losing galleries would be a great loss not only to Cork Street itself, but also the surrounding retailers who benefit hugely from Cork Street visitors.

Join Save Cork Street    

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