S o h o E s t a t e s
Arriving in London
Paul Raymond arrives in London and establishes the Paul Raymond Variety Agency in offices on Charing Cross Road.
Raymond Revue Bar
Paul Raymond opens the Raymond Revuebar as a private club in Walker's Court, Soho, to great popular acclaim. The Revuebar offered burlesque entertainment and strip tease. The Revuebar's famous neon sign was created by neon light artist Dick Bracey.
Raymond Revue Bar
By 1970s, Paul Raymond had diversified into publishing and took over the adult title Men Only in 1971; his other magazines included Razzle and Mayfair. In 1974, he acquired the lease on the Windmill Theatre. At the Whitehall Theatre, he produced the sex comedy Pyjama Tops, which ran for more than five years along with several sequels. Mr Raymond also controlled the Royalty Theatre.
In the 1960s the Revuebar was a hit with the leading entertainment figures of the day. Paul Raymond bought the freehold to the Revuebar and had the beginnings of his Soho property portfolio.
In the 1970s and 80s Paul Raymond continues to invest in property and expand his portfolio, purchasing freeholds in Soho through his company, Soho Estates.
The Revuebar's second venue, the Boulevard Theatre, became the new home for Peter Richardson's comedy club The Comic Strip. Performers included Nigel Planer, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Alexei Sayle. It opened in October 1980 and ran until 1981. In 1989, the Boulevard Theatre was also home to Eddie Izzard's stand-up venue, Raging Bull.
In 1987 Paul Raymond opened Madame Jojo's nightclub. The venue was run by John Wright, better known as Madame Jojo herself, and delighted patrons with its distinctive blend of drag cabaret and burlesque. Madame Jojo's was closed down after the operators lost their licence in 2014. Happily, Soho Estates is bringing the venue back in improved premises in 2021.
Madame Jojo's nightclub
John James appointed Director
John joined Soho Estates in 1986 and was appointed Head of Estates in 1989. He was appointed Director in 1990 and became the Managing Director in 2010.
The first Soho House Club opens on Greek Street. Soho House Club was founded by Nick Jones and with the help of Soho Estates, they transformed a building on Greek Street into a members club for people in the media and creative industries. An international success story, Soho House has expanded and has established clubs across the world.
Soho House Club
Fawn James appointed Director
Fawn James, Paul Raymond's granddaughter, is appointed director of Soho Estates.
Paul Raymond dies aged 82. Paul Raymond provided for his late daughter's children Fawn and India and for his son Howard's family through a series of trusts. On his death, his granddaughters Fawn and India James became the main beneficial owners of the property portfolio and other assets.
Paul Raymond passes away
Paul Raymond's publications are sold
Reflecting diminishing returns from adult publications, the company sells its remaining interests.
The trusts controlling Soho Estates' portfolio is divided by agreement to release a minority share of assets for the benefit of Howard Raymond and his children. Fawn and India remain the main beneficial owners of the majority interests. The James family re-form Soho Estates as a new company. Fawn James and John James become Directors of the new company, and Steve Norris is appointed as the Chairman of the new board.
Foyles Soho portfolio acquired
Redevelop Walker's Court
Revuebar sign restored
Fawn and India James commissioned a recreation of the Raymond Revuebar sign as a tribute to their grandfather and a piece of public art for Soho. The sign was remade by neon light artists Chris and Marcus Bracey, the son and grandson of the original sign maker.
Soho Estates completed the purchase of a portfolio of nine West End properties, including the Foyles book store on Charing Cross Road. In the space of one year Soho Estates replaced the value of the holdings given to Howard Raymond in the partition in 2011.
Planning permission was granted to redevelop Walker's Court. The scheme incorporates new retail and office space, as well as the reinstatement of the Boulevard Theatre and improved premises for two nightclubs - The Box and Madame Jojo's. Construction completed summer 2019.
Ilona Rose House
Soho Estates was granted planning permission to build Ilona Rose House on the site of the former Foyles bookshop and adjacent properties. Arranged across nine floors plus four basement levels, the new building will provide office space plus shops, restaurants, bars and affordable apartments to rent. The façade of a Grade II listed building on Greek Street will be retained and house a new education-led space. Ground was broken in February 2017 as Soho Estates appoint Cantillon to carry out the demolition and excavation elements of the development. The project is due to complete in 2021.
Kettner's Townhouse and Soho House Club
Soho Estates completed the redevelopment of Kettner’s Townhouse and the original Soho House members club. The project involved the careful refurbishment and restoration of 15 Georgian townhouses, including 11 listed buildings. The renovated Kettner’s restaurant has been brought back to it’s former grandeur with addition of 32 hotel rooms. The original Soho House club has undergone extensive refurbishment with the addition of a contemporary pavilion located within the site’s central courtyard.