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Motopolis - The London Car Industry


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I'm taking as my guide for this occasional series the old County of Middlesex - I even have my 1951 Pevsner with me...but areas further out were all part of this local car-ecology - so Rootes and Bedford at Dunstable, Vauxhall at Luton as well as anything in Hertfordshire.

The arc of light-industry that ringed London to the North in the 20's -60's.



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Some interesting transport architecture up here.

Park Royal with it's 30's tube station  designed by Day, Welch & Lander in an Art Deco/Streamline Moderne style influenced by the Underground's principal architect Charles Holden and opened in 1931.

Pevsner included it in his 1951 Buildings of England.






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Part of a 30's development, also by Day, Welch and Lander, right on the A40. Integral to the complex was a petrol filling station - all the infrastructure has gone but the attendants booth survives as a shop.

Leadville is a good history of Metroland on the A40 which is now multi-lane.








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Lotus! Started in the garages behind a pub in North London somewhere, as I recall, then a dedicated factory which is now a Jewsons or something (there's a plaque to Chapman on the wall) - 7 Tottenham Lane, London N8 9DJ

Will you include Cooper as a manufacturer? If so, get thee to IVEY HOUSE, Hollyfield Rd, Surbiton KT5 9AJ. 

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A private 1960's estate - by then the car was firmly entrenched in the look of places.

(Shows how good 60's architecture can be when it's maintained.)


Inter-War Tudor-bethan... here they kept the Morris  10's and Austin 7's in garage courts round the back - producing a different environment.




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Phew. That's it.   Collected my cutting compound from the specialist suppliers up here.


Now for some coffee and cake...


I hope you have enjoyed this Metroland tour. 

I looked in Action Cemetery on the way back. Bit more local history.


Thread to be continued when I get time up there. Fascinating area - mostly fields until about 1920.





So I will keep posting. 🙋


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  • 6 months later...

Post revival - as part of my occasional series - today I was in a gloomy Central London and was able to drop in on the old Rootes HQ (getting back to their Rootes - geddit?) at grand Devonshire House in Piccadilly.


Rootes had their very posh company base here and car showrooms - no ordinary Coventry address for them.


Devonshire House  was built 1924 as a speculative office development -  designed  by American architect Thomas Hastings of Carrere and Hastings of New York (it's their only British building).



It incorporated shops/showrooms on the ground floor, some fronting directly onto Piccadilly, as well as an entrance to Green Park Tube Station -  and a posh 'porticoed' entrance at the rear.


The building became the UK headquarters of Citroën, their showrooms occupying the lower three floors  and they remained chief occupant until 1936. Part was also rented as their headquarters by 'The Rootes Group' from 1920's until their financial  difficulties and demise in the 1960s, with offices and ground floor showrooms.




Sir William Rootes - Piccadilly in the background. In those days when you really made it you got a white phone. Perhaps he is there fretting whether to build his new small car in Scotland...

This big building all stands on the site of the original 1740 Devonshire House - the London address of the Dukes of Devonshire - which was controversially demolished in 1924 - though the gates survive moved across the road to Green Park.

Audi had their showrooms here more recently until 2018 - but the whole Piccadilly  frontage is occupied by an M&S and a bank these days. Rootes comings and goings now long gone...that there was once a bastion of the British car industry based here would not occur to any modern everyday passer-by.


"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;  Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! The lone and level sands stretch far away." - Shelley.

Later on Piccadilly I was able to just pap this lovely Silver Cloud as it swept by - the V8 version with quad headlamps. Real style never dies...

(Devonshire House in the background)


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  • lesapandre changed the title to Motopolis - The London Car Industry

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