Category Archives: Uncategorized

Planting Neal’s Yard – a slideshow

If you’ve ever admired the bright oil drums filled with trees and plants that bring colour and life to Neal’s Yard, take a look at the hard work that goes into keeping them healthy! Watch a slideshow of how we repot a tree.

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West End Extra reports on flue dispute

Battle to save ‘delicate ecosystem’ of Neal’s Yard

Row over restaurant’s ‘Cape Canaveral’ flue

06 April, 2018 — By William McLennan

A flue that has been compared to the Apollo 13 spacecraft 

RESIDENTS in a historic Covent Garden courtyard have said their “oasis of peace” has been overrun with restaurants.

Neighbours in Neal’s Yard have objected to the arrival of any new eateries and asked the council to intervene and protect the area’s unique atmosphere. All but one of the plaza’s shops have been replaced with cafés, bars and restaurants over the past three years, the Covent Garden Community Association said.

The area gives its name to Neal’s Yard Remedies, an up-market health and beauty company, which is the only retailer to remain a presence. Employees said that they have been forced to end therapy sessions early, after customers felt nauseas from the smell of cooking meat.

Responding to the latest planning objection to turn one of the retail units permanently into a restaurant, Mark Wordsworth wrote: “This may seem an odd analogy but Neal’s Yard is like a coral reef – it’s a very delicate ecosystem and to preserve it it needs to be kept in balance. If the reef dies then it can’t be recreated – it’s gone forever. And like all dead reefs there are no tourists or visitors and everyone loses out including the landlords and all their tenants.”

Residents focused their objections on landlords Shaftesbury Estates, calling on them to manage the mix of homes, restaurants and shops in the area.


One neighbour, complaining about an extractor fan flue that had been installed to accommodate one restaurant, told Camden Council: “Here on Planet Shaftesbury Estate, we are still trying to come to terms with the almost overnight appearance of the massive silver flue aka – Apollo 13 and which appeared out of the blue (like Dr Who’s Tardis) and now looms over us like something that wouldn’t be out of place at Cape Canaveral, just waiting menacingly quiet, for someone to light the blue touch paper and stand well back, before it hurtles off into space, to conquer hidden planets and thereby establish new communities for Shaftesbury Estates.”

Paul Hope said the area has “rapidly become a loud and busy restaurant zone” eroding the reason that people “love the yard and flock there”.

Axelle Bonaparte said: “Neal’s Yard has been here for years adding an oasis of peace and quiet in the area, and this is fading away. Can we have some corners of calmness in this city and not use every square metre for frenzy?”

Amanda Rigby, of the Covent Garden Community Association, asked Camden Council to engage in a “holistic, strategic discussion about how the place that is Neal’s Yard should be allowed to evolve”.

Brian Bickell, chief executive officer Shaftesbury plc, said the company was committed to maintaining Neal’s Yard’s vibrancy and communal spirit, adding: “It has a long history as a shared and mixed-use space – from Neal’s Yard Remedies for health and wellbeing through to the cheese shop of Neal’s Yard Dairy, and the small independent cafés and restaurants which together contribute to this extraordinary oasis in the West End.”


The story of Neal’s Yard – past, present and future

Neal’s Yard recently hosted a Neal’s Yard storytelling to celebrate its past and imagine its future.


The event marked the 40-year anniversary of the opening of the Neal’s Yard Wholefood Warehouse, which was the start of an alternative Neal’s Yard. It also celebrated the publication of The Neal’s Yard Story, a re-release of Nicholas Albery’s 1987 booklet about Neal’s Yard, with a new foreword by Anja Saunders, bringing the story up to date. Full of photos and first-hand accounts, it is a fascinating tale of a piece of living social history and is available to buy from the Kindle store or as a free download.

The Neal’s Yard Story event was filled with Neal’s Yarders who shared the past, current and future stories of Neal’s Yard, from its earliest days with Nicholas Saunders and the birth of Neal’s Yard Dairy, Neal’s Yard Remedies, the World Food Cafe, Monmouth Street Coffee and more, to its newest members of the community, such as 26 Grains.

Among the laughter and reminiscences were full-hearted discussions of “what does Neal’s Yard mean to you?” – what are its values, what are the things that make it special and need to be treasured and enabled to grow and flourish as a unique community? We’ll be continuing the discussion over here – please join in.

The Neal’s Yard Story – read the book

The front cover of The Neal's Yard Story. Read it here or at the Kindle store!

The front cover of The Neal’s Yard Story. Read it here or at the Kindle store!

Want to know more about the extraordinary history of Neal’s Yard and the incredible community and businesses that have grown up in it?

We’re delighted to have republished Nicholas Albery’s 1987 booklet about Neal’s Yard, with a new foreword by Anja Saunders, bringing the story up to date.

Full of photos and first-hand accounts, this is a fascinating tale of a piece of living social history, right in the heart of London’s Covent Garden.

There are two ways to read the book:

Be social: join the conversation


Photo by Peter Nijenhuis. CC-BY-ND-NC,

Our Neal’s Yard community now has a hashtag: #nealsyardcommunity. Find us on social media and join the conversation.

New trees bloom in Neal’s Yard

New tree in Neal's YardGuess what? Someone got it in their silly head to put motor oil in three of the planters. Why? Well, they didn’t  leave an explanation but the result was that the soil got poisoned and three trees died.

As a little compensation for the madness around the balloon filming we managed to get three new trees from the company: snowy mespilus, which has lovely white flowers, edible berries in July and rich autumnal tones;  Japanese maple, with beautiful maroon foliage; and camelia, which bears luscious white blooms.

The soil had to be dug out and replaced and here you see the new trees ready to share their freshness and greenness with all who come to Neal’s Yard.

Give them a caring warm welcome when you visit and let us know on this blog what you think about them!

Tree planting in Neal's Yard

Poetry Board gallery

The Poetry Board is where visitors to the Yard can unleash their creativity and arrange, rearrange, move and make merry with little magnetic words on a big metal board until their poetic urges are satisfied and the perfect verse is on display.

Here are some examples – find out more about being inspired in the Yard (and how to see your favourite quote featured on the Quote Board and the Blog) on the Inspirations page.