Friday, 20 June 2014

Burberry's, 18-22 Haymarket, SW1

The Burberry building at 18-22 Haymarket is, like so many grandiose stores of the Victorian era, a testament to one man's commercial success.

After founding his company in Basingtoke in 1856, aged just 21, and inventing the weather-proof gabardine fabric, Thomas Burberry arrived on London's Haymarket in 1891, and in 1912 constructed this grand premises.

Designed in a Beaux Arts style by architect Walter Cave, the three-storey, stone-faced building stands on the corner with Orange Street. The entablature, supported by Doric columns, runs all around the building and still bears the traces of its former occupant.

The large unaltered display windows on the ground floor also turn the corner to Orange Street. These must have turned plenty of heads in their day. Upstairs, huge arches support the first floor windows and also the second floor windows, which are curved into the arches. A narrow staircase – I imagine a staff one – sits at the lefthand side of the building (behind the lamp-post in the picture below).

Signalling the store's presence to those approaching along the street is an ornate clock, which juts out bearing the Burberry name.

Round the corner on Orange Street is the trade entrance.

As well as a shop, Burberry made this its head office. It traded from here throughout the rest of the 20th century. This is a pic of the store from 1913:

The Haymarket address became a familiar sight on its advertising. This ad is from the Daily Express on 21 September, 1959, with the address bottom right.

When Cherie Blair and her lifestyle guru Carole Caplin brought Lyudmila Putin shopping here in 2003, Burberry had shaken off its chavvy image of the 1990s and was on the brink of expansion. Hence the company moved out in 2008, just a few years after spending millions on a revamp of the building's interior. Its HQ is now at Horseferry House in Millbank, although it is strictly offices, with no shop.

And 18-22 Haymarket has stood empty since, apart from being pressed into action as a party venue now and then, most recently during the London Olympics. It was bought by a mystery Russian businessman for £20m in 2011 - and there was some talk about TK Maxx moving in - but it changed hands again and is now owned by The Apprentice star and Mrs Tiggy Winkle lookalike Lord Alan Sugar's Amsprop Group.