Harrods

Department store in/near Knightsbridge, existing between 1851 and now

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Department store · Knightsbridge · SW1X · Contributed by The Underground Map
November
14
2013

Harrods is an upmarket department store located in Brompton Road in Knightsbridge.

The store occupies a five-acre site and has over one million square feet of selling space in over 330 departments making it the biggest department store in Europe. The UK's second-biggest shop, Selfridges, Oxford Street, is a little over half the size with 540,000 square feet of selling space.

The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique — All Things for All People, Everywhere. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Halls, are world famous.

Harrods founder Charles Henry Harrod first established his business in 1824, aged 25. The business was located south of the River Thames in Southwark. The premises were located at 228 Borough High Street. He ran this business, variously listed as a draper, mercer and a haberdasher, certainly until 1831. During 1825 the business was listed as 'Harrod and Wicking, Linen Drapers, Retail', but this partnership was dissolved at the end of that year. His first grocery business appears to be as ‘Harrod & Co.Grocers’ at 163 Upper Whitecross Street, Clerkenwell, E.C.1., in 1832. In 1834 in London's East End, he established a wholesale grocery in Stepney, at 4, Cable Street, with a special interest in tea. In 1849, to escape the vice of the inner city and to capitalise on trade to the Great Exhibition of 1851 in nearby Hyde Park, Harrod took over a small shop in the district of Brompton, on the site of the current store. Beginning in a single room employing two assistants and a messenger boy, Harrod's son Charles Digby Harrod built the business into a thriving retail operation selling medicines, perfumes, stationery, fruit and vegetables. Harrods rapidly expanded, acquired the adjoining buildings, and employed one hundred people by 1880.

However, the store's booming fortunes were reversed in early December 1883, when it burnt to the ground. Remarkably, in view of this calamity, Charles Harrod fulfilled all of his commitments to his customers to make Christmas deliveries that year—and made a record profit in the process. In short order, a new building was built on the same site, and soon Harrods extended credit for the first time to its best customers, among them Oscar Wilde, Lillie Langtry, Ellen Terry, Charlie Chaplin, Noël Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, Sigmund Freud, A. A. Milne, and many members of the British Royal Family.

On Wednesday, 16 November 1898, Harrods debuted England's first 'moving staircase' (escalator) in their Brompton Road stores; the device was actually a woven leather conveyor belt-like unit with a mahogany and 'silver plate-glass' balustrade.Nervous customers were offered brandy at the top to revive them after their 'ordeal'.

The shop's 330 departments offer a wide range of products and services. Products on offer include clothing for women, men, children and infants, electronics, jewellery, sporting gear, bridal trousseau, pets and pet accessories, toys, food and drink, health and beauty items, packaged gifts, stationery, housewares, home appliances and furniture.

Up to 300,000 customers visit the shop on peak days, comprising the highest proportion of customers from non-English speaking countries of any department store in London. More than five thousand staff from over fifty different countries work at Harrods.

The department store was purchased by the Fayed brothers in 1985. Harrods was then sold to Qatar Holdings, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar in May 2010.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence



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VIEW THE KNIGHTSBRIDGE AREA IN THE 1750s
The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

VIEW THE KNIGHTSBRIDGE AREA IN THE 1800s
The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
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VIEW THE KNIGHTSBRIDGE AREA IN THE 1830s
The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
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VIEW THE KNIGHTSBRIDGE AREA IN THE 1860s
The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

VIEW THE KNIGHTSBRIDGE AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

Kensington

Kensington is a district of West London, England within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, located west of Charing Cross.

The focus of the area is Kensington High Street, a busy commercial centre with many shops, typically upmarket. The street was declared London's second best shopping street in February 2005 thanks to its range and number of shops.

The edges of Kensington are not well-defined; in particular, the southern part of Kensington blurs into Chelsea, which has a similar architectural style. To the west, a transition is made across the West London railway line and Earl's Court Road further south into other districts, whilst to the north, the only obvious dividing line is Holland Park Avenue, to the north of which is the similar district of Notting Hill.

Kensington is, in general, an extremely affluent area, a trait that it now shares with its neighbour to the south, Chelsea. The area has some of London's most expensive streets and garden squares.

Kensington is also very densely populated; it forms part of the most densely populated local government district (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) in the United Kingdom. This high density is not formed from high-rise buildings; instead, it has come about through the subdivision of large mid-rise Victorian and Georgian terraced houses (generally of some four to six floors) into flats.
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Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches. Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
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