John Meard the younger was an 18thCentury carpenter, who built the street in the 1720s and 1730s. It was laid out in two stages. Its western portion was started in the early 1720s on land leased by Sir William Pulteney, with the first phase known as Meard’s Court. The eastern end – connecting via a small square to Dean Street, was created about 10 years later on land owned since 1697 by Thomas Pitt, an MP who was the grandfather and great-grandfather of the two William Pitts who became Prime Ministers of Great Britain. Pitt was the Governor of Fort St George, Madras, and the owner of the 410-carat ‘Pitt diamond’ which he sold for a tremendous profit. As such the development of his small Soho estate was a matter of no great concern or urgency. Nevertheless after his death, the family did initiate a general rebuilding of the estate broadly in line with that of neighbouring estates. Though on different estates and built years apart both portions of the street have remarkable uniformity, with a change of width and alignment demarcating the two estates. The houses of the second phase of development however were substantially grander. When building was completed in 1732, Meard fixed a stone with this date – and the name ‘Meard’s Street’ on the side wall of 68 Dean Street. Dan Cruickshank in Soho says: “Like only a handful of the most successful and ambitious early eighteenth-century speculative builders, Meard had built himself into the fabric and history of London by creating an entire street and naming it after himself. This piece of pride was a reflection of the status he had achieved by the 1730s. He had advanced from ‘carpenter’ – as described in the early leases – to ‘Esquire’. He had made money and reputation supervising work on a number of the ‘Fifty Churches’ being completed throughout London during the 1720s to the designs of Nicholas Hawksmoor, John James and James Gibbs, had probably worked on St Paul’s Cathedral, and was a justice of the peace and Freeman of the City of London.” Meard also built 16 Gerrard Street, 2 and 3 Macclesfield Street, and 9 Newport Place. He also built the spire for the new church of St Anne, Soho, in 1718.
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