Whiteley’s

Image dated 1920

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2017

Whiteley’s, pictured here in the 1920s, was designated a Grade II Listed Building in 1970.

The original Whiteleys department store was created by William Whiteley, who started a drapery shop at 31 Westbourne Grove in 1863.

In 1907, William Whiteley was murdered by Horace George Rayner, who claimed to be his illegitimate son, "Cecil Whiteley". After his death, the board including two of Whiteley’s sons allowed the leases on the various Westbourne Grove properties to lapse and moved into a new purpose built store on Queens Road (now called Queensway).

The building was designed by John Belcher and John James Joass, and was opened by the Lord Mayor of London in 1911. It was the height of luxury at the time, including both a theatre and a golf-course on the roof. It appears in a number of early 20th-century novels, and in Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion, where Eliza Doolittle is sent "to Whiteleys to be attired." In the late 1920s, Dr. A. J. Cronin, the novelist, was appointed the medical officer of Whiteleys, and in 1927 rival store Selfridges purchased the business.

The department store closed down in 1981 remaining empty until the building was purchased by a firm called the Whiteleys Partnership in 1986, later acquired by the Standard Life Assurance Company. Extensive reconstruction followed; the façade and some interior features such as stairs and railings remain, but essentially the building was demolished and rebuilt. During this reconstruction a tower crane collapsed, killing workmen and the driver of a car.

It reopened on 26 July 1989 as a shopping centre.

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