Arthur Beale is a place not many sailors know about. Incongruously located on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of London’s theatre land, for the past 400 years or so, is quite possibly the world’s best chandlery. Behind the desk is invariably a man sporting a beard, espousing rigging screw wisdom to sailors and tourists alike.
Upstairs you will find sailing yarns aplenty. Shelves stacked with beautiful copies of Arthur Ransome, Erskine Childers, and Robert Louis Stevenson. When Carruthers goes shopping for nails and screws before setting off from London for The Baltic in The Riddle Of The Sands, this is the shop I imagine he went to.
Clothing for sailing in cold places occupies the other side of the room. Brands you haven’t heard of from Norway and France, with a firm nod to durability and longevity over cutting edge design. I wish I had been here before I sailed to Sweden.
Downstairs is central London’s only real chandlers. Throughout the year talks are held on everything from splicing to varnishing.
Outside you’ll find the tides for the day on a board, just in case you were thinking of going for an evening sail after the matinee.
In short, Arthur Beale is a bastion of English sailing tradition, delivered with a reassuring lack of affectation, in the most surprising place.
194, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JP