Mayfair, mortgaged for £200 - and go to jail!

Well, it is a game. But how does Waddington's evergreen fantasy London square with reality? Rosie Millard throws the dice
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KING'S CROSS STATION £200

Estimated value: £236m

Built in 1851, and named after a nearby monument to George IV. When it opened, it was England's largest station. Boadicea, who died in AD62, is allegedly buried beneath platform 8. Once proud home of the Flying Scotsman, it is now the haunt of prostitutes and drug dealers. But plans for a Channel tunnel rail link, plus the the new British Library might bring a renaissance.

Although Monopoly was devised in 1935 by an American, Charles Darrow, and originally based on the streets of Atlantic City, it is still regarded as a quintessential British product. The design of the 1936 UK version, with its famed properties ranging from Old Kent Road to Mayfair, was inspired by the company director's secretary who went on a day trip to London from Waddington's in Leeds to choose appropriate streets for the game. She appears to have wandered around a bit, noted down some road names, almost at random, and climbed back on the train to go home to Leeds. Hence the board's immortalisation of fairly unremarkable roads (Marlborough Street, Vine Street), and its occasionally weird geography. The prices for the streets were graded according to 1930s property values, which make a chilling comparison when updated with the Monopoly board, 1995.

Monopoly is a registered trademark 1995 Tonka Corporation. All rights reserved

MAYFAIR £400

Estimated value: £9.75bn

The big one. Have a hotel here; you've won the game. Still a seriously rich area. Pretend you live here by hanging out at the Curzon Street cinema or having an orange juice at Claridges. Rich kids use the Mayfair library in South Audley Street.

COLLECT £200 SALARY AS YOU PASS GO

"Go" is Greenwich Park, venue for the start of the London Marathon. Every April, more than 20,000 people obey the word Go and run 26 gruelling miles.

Salary? £200? As a professional property dealer, more in the region of £50,000.

OLD KENT ROAD £60 Estimated value: £28m

The board's oldest, longest street, it's a duff purchase, being the cheapest and a dirty brown colour. Locals are fed up with this down-at-heel image: Southwark News has campaigned for the street to leave the board.

WHITECHAPEL ROAD. £60

Estimated value: £56,250,000

Nowhere near the Old Kent Road. The main route from the City for medieval Essex boys going home. Named after its 13th-century parish church, built of white stone, it achieved fame 500 years later as stamping ground of Jack the Ripper. As in 1936, it's still known as a centre for ethnic minorities, of trade and industry; and also for the trendy Whitechapel Art Gallery.

EUSTON ROAD £100

Estimated value: £166m

Built in 1756 through open countryside so that cattle could be driven from the west of London to Smithfield Market and avoid Oxford Street. It was built despite petitions to the House of Commons from the Capper family, who lived nearby. They argued that dust clouds raised by the cattle would ruin their hay. Today, exhaust smoke has replaced dust.

PENTONVILLE ROAD. £120

Estimated value: £62m

Most northerly of all Monopoly streets. Formerly Henry Penton's rural estate; now a rat-run down to King's Cross. In the 18th century it was so beset by muggers that after a night out at Sadler's Wells, rich theatre- goers had to be escorted down it by mounted patrols.

IN JAIL

This is the Tower of London, a Norman fortress built in 1097. Famous prisoners include Guy Fawkes, tortured as well as executed here. Just visiting? You are one of the Tower's millions of tourists.

INCOME TAX, £200

More like £20,000 for today's high earners.

THE ANGEL, ISLINGTON £100

Estimated value: £360m

Once a tiny hamlet mentioned as Isendone in the Domesday Book, Islington is now an arty inner London district and home of the Leader of the Opposition. It's far smarter than the board's cheap Thirties positioning implies. The original Angel was a coaching inn under a clump of elms. The nearest staging post to London where you could change your horses, it was restored as the Co-op Bank in 1981.

CHANCE? SPEEDING FINE £15.

Not likely. Speeding fines in London now reach several hundred pounds and can put at least three penalty points on your licence.

PALL MALL £140

Estimated value: £264m

Formerly a games alley named after a fashionable 16th-century Italian version of croquet (palla a maglio = ball to mallet). Home to Nell Gwynne who played pall-mall here with Charles II. Now noted for expensive offices and an Olympic-size pool in the basement of the RAC Club.

ELECTRIC COMPANY. £150

Estimated value: up to the shareholders

Not usually a good Monopoly investment even though Londoners use more than 16 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year and have submitted thousands of applications for shares in PowerGen.

WHITEHALL £140

Estimated value: £840m

One of the most powerful streets on the board. Home to most of the government offices and Downing Street. Owes its name to the Tudor palace of Whitehall, burnt down in 1698. Charles I was executed here in 1649; yet for all its importance, still not a great card for the true Monopoly entrepreneur.

NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE £160

Estimated value: £84m

Regarded by taxi drivers as a quick cut through from the Embankment to Trafalgar Square. The Jacobean palace built for the Earls of Northumberland was demolished long ago. Now it's full of offices.

MARYLEBONE STATION £200

Estimated value: £90m

Although it's recently had a revamp, the station remains somewhat provincial. Its main destinations are Aylesbury and Banbury; the architecture was done by an engineer. Four passengers turned up for the opening service in 1899. But during the recent signalworkers' strike, electronic equipment kept the station functioning and commuters happy.

BOW STREET £180

Estimated value: £60m

One of Monopoly's more cultured sites, this street, has the Royal Opera House and Covent Garden round the corner. The Bow Street Runners, a squad of "thief takers" commissioned by novelist Henry Fielding in the mid-18th century, and based here, were an early precursor of the Metropolitan Police. Police are still there, along with yuppie wine bars and boutiques.

COMMUNITY CHEST DOCTOR'S FEES: PAY £50

I don't think so. Having a baby by Caesarian section at the exclusive Wellington Hospital in St John's Wood? £1,175, please. For one night.

MARLBOROUGH STREET £180

Estimated valuation: £45.2m

Marlborough Street is in SW3. Waddington's thinks the director's secretary was actually thinking of Great Marlborough Street, W1, now a sort of semi- pedestrian shopping precinct populated by people who can't afford to shop next-door at Liberty's. For Dickensian poverty, check out Oliver at the Palladium

Theatre.

VINE STREET £200

Estimated value: £7.2m

Shortest, narrowest and the only dead-end street on the board. Home to Vine Street Police Station where, in 1829, the Metropolitan Police first put on their blue uniforms.

TRAFALGAR SQUARE £240

Estimated value: £115m

Thirties demos against fascism; Nineties demos against the poll tax. The official centre of London, according to a plaque on the east side. Also, thousands of tourists and tens of thousands of flea-ridden pigeons.

LEICESTER SQUARE £260

Estimated value: £36m

Tourists, cinema fans, party-goers and litter-bugs. Formerly fields belonging to Henry VIII. Parishioners used to be able to graze cattle here and hang out their laundry. Although Monopoly allows you to buy houses, it's no longer residential.

REGENT STREET £300

Estimated value: £525m

The start of Monopoly's posh side. You can lose a huge amount here both in the game and in reality. Named after the wildly extravagant Prince Regent and designed by John Nash. Now scene of wildly extravagant shopping sprees before Christmas and festive lights provided by theatre impresarios.

OXFORD STREET £300

Estimated value: £900m

Formerly a rutted carriageway with Tyburn's gallows for public hanging at the Marble Arch end. Currently a mad thoroughfare, closed to normal traffic but venue for hundreds of shops including Selfridges, Marks & Spencer and Mr Byrite.

COMMUNITY CHEST. IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY. COLLECT £I0 FROM EACH PLAYER

Erm, not in 1995. Privileged London children now scoop at

least £300 per birthday, per parent.

LIVERPOOL STREET STATION £200

Estimated value: £l.92bn

Trains from here do not go to Liverpool; the street was named after Lord Liverpool in the mid-19th century. Early Monopoly players would not recognise Liverpool Street Station as it was given a massive overhaul five years ago. It is now set within a vast arcade frequented by sushi-eating, ice-skating City workers and is part of the massive Broadgate development.

BOND STREET £320

Estimated value: £306m

Appropriately enough for Monopoly, named after the 17th-century speculator Sir Thomas Bond. Still a luxurious shopping area even though last year's Christmas lights were switched on by Liz Hurley.

CHANCE. PAY SCHOOL FEES, £150 Ha ha.

PARK LANE £350

Estimated value: £720m

Formerly a graceful bridle-path on the edge of Hyde Park. Now an eight- lane speed track. Enterprising lovers meet in the central reservation for a dare and a roll in the grass.

GO TO JAIL

Not hard. Annoy a policeman and you might end up in a cell for the night.

PICCADILLY £280

Estimated value: £527m

Named after Robert Baker, a 17th-century tailor who made a fortune from selling "picadils", stiff collars. One of the nouveau riche, Baker bought a mansion in Mayfair which was immediately nicknamed Piccadilly Hall. Hotels on the real Piccadilly include the Ritz.

WATER WORKS £150

Estimated value: Not specified

In 1936, depicted by a tap; in 1995, Water Works are on show at Shepherd's Bush, where the London Ring Main gushes out.

COVENTRY STREET £260

Estimated value: £75m

In 1936, best known for the Caf de Paris, whose members included Elizabeth Taylor. Now best known for Planet Hollywood.

FENCHURCH STREET STATION £200

Estimated value: £320m

The first station in the City. Originally, departing trains were propelled by cable (for fear of fire), and had to be given a push by enthusiastic platform staff to leave the station. Today Fenchurch Street is well placed for commuters heading for the Docklands Light Railway

FLEET STREET £220

Estimated value: £195m

"Street of shame" and only City address on the board. Synonymous for four and a half centuries with bibulous hacks, starting with Wynkyn de Worde's printing shop in 1500. The papers have all moved away, but the legend lives on, particularly for tourists in the legendary watering hole,Ye Olde Cheddar Cheese.

CHANCE? BANK PAYS YOU DIVIDEND OF £50

Dream on.

STRAND £220

Estimated Value: £702m

Aha! We're really playing. Serious properties from now on around the board. Once a bridle-path on the bank of the Thames, the Strand is now a four-lane speed track, where you take your life in your hands should you cross it on foot.

FREE PARKING

Erm, I know of a little street near Vauxhall Station, but that's about it nowadays.

SUPER TAX. PAY £100.

Phew. Missed Mayfair. A lucky escape, but Super Tax, an additional levy for high earners, was abandoned almost two decades ago.

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