THE bronze of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart proudly surveys Orange Square, off Pimlico Road, with a slightly cheeky look on his chubby face. Unveiled in 1994, the statue pays tribute to the Austrian genius who composed his first symphony, aged only eight, when staying at a house up the road (180, Ebury Street). Although Mozart is perhaps their most famous (if rather ephemeral) resident, the streets around Pimlico Road have been home to an array of colourful characters who have given this corner of London a unique identity.
At the time the Mozarts settled in Ebury Street, the area had a distinctly rural feel, not least because it was bordered to the east by Neat House’s market gardens, about 200 acres brimming with the cabbage, celery, cauliflower and asparagus that kept London fed. In one of the streets that lined the gardens (now Warwick Way), resided one of the Regency era’s most notorious villains —Slender Billy. Thief, forger and a well-known organiser of badger-baiting and dogfighting encounters, he nonetheless ‘bore the reputation of a man of strict probity in his nefarious dealings,’ according to the 1825 edition of Sporting Anecdotes—so much so that, when he was hanged on January 29, 1812, his passing was much mourned.
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October 07, 2020