Quite a few people have asked me where DCI Dennis, one of the main characters in Midnight in Peking – a former Scotland Yard detective and then head of the British police force in Tientsin as well as one of the investigators into Pamela Werner’s murder – ended up when he returned to England after an exchange of nationals between Japan and the UK got him out of jail in Tientsin and back to London. Well, he ended up running the Dennis Hotel in that rather interesting area of central London, Bayswater. These days Bayswater is mostly (but not entirely!) posh again and the site of the old Dennis Hotel is now opposite the distinctly posh Hempel Hotel on Craven Hill Gardens (the Dennis Hotel was at No.8). Dick Dennis would have known the streets and communities of Bayswater in the 1930s when he was based in the Metropolitan police at Paddington Police Station nearby. Actually in the 1930s and through the war and its immediate aftermath Bayswater had fallen on slightly hard times – it’s gorgeous stucco fronted terraced houses were endlessly subdivided and the area was a little “seedy” and still a mess from bomb damage during the Blitz courtesy of the Luftwaffe. However, the Dennis was apparently a nice enough hotel – long term residents, older ladies (many of these sort of women still lived in the area through the 1960s and 1970s nto the 1980s and even I can remember them tottering around). Apparently there was a good card game and a drink available.
Craven Hill Gardens, London W2
No.8 as it is today…
and round the corner, for London buffs, an old style London road sign