If you’ve been to Bayswater, you’ll have seen the iconic Whiteleys store. The shopping centre has been undergoing major renovation works since 2018. The new project will reduce the store’s space by 65%, but includes apartments and a hotel. Foster + Partners are in charge of the project and the first images of the apartments for rent have now been revealed.
Founded by the namesake Whiteley as a fabric store on 31 Westbourne Grove in 1863, in 1867 the entrepreneur had acquired a row of shops with 17 departments. In his store, there was a hairdresser, a tailor, and even an estate agent. This was before Harrods. In 1896, William Whiteley Limited obtained a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria.
At the point, 622 people were working inside and another 1,000 outside. Whiteleys began selling food in 1875 and building and decorating in 1876.
In 1890, the company had over 6,000 employees, most of whom lived in company-owned dormitories and worked from 7:00 to 23:00 six days a week.Whiteleys also acquired vast agricultural land and built food processing plants to supply the store and catering staff.
Mr Whiteley was killed in 1907 by his illegitimate son, Horace George Rayner. A year after Whiteley’s death, the company board let lapse the properties of Westbourne Grove and moved into a new store in Queensway, Bayswater.
When the Whiteleys store was opened in 1911, it had been touted as the ultimate luxury destination. It included a golf course and theatre on the roof and it claimed to be the largest store in the world. In 1927 it was sold to the owner of a competitor: Selfridges.
After decades of decline, Whiteleys was bought and sold several times before officially closing in 1981. It remained closed until 1989 after it underwent extensive renovations. As it’s common in London they gutted the building but kept the facade. The new shopping center was a failure and was sold and repurposed many times, from a facility that catered to the masses it tried to reinvent itself as one for luxury shoppers until its ultimate demise.