The Sanderson Hotel & Berners Street: Through the Ages


As all local estate agents will know, The Sanderson Hotel lies in the heart of Fitzrovia and is a modern and structural 1950s building, designed by Slater & Uren.  Boasting luxury rooms, Malaysian cuisine and the Agua Spa, it may come as a surprise to you to know that the original building was opened to celebrate the centenary of Sanderson.  This prestigious, British brand spent the majority of its life on Berners Street, and played a key role in the development of interior design as we know it today.

Davis Brown Estate Agents takes a look into the heritage of Fitzrovia, and the significance of residential and commercial property on Berners Street.

In 1860 Arthur Sanderson established himself as an importer of French wallpapers.  Merchandise was lavish and expensive, full of texture and colour.  Originally based in Islington, Sanderson moved to Soho Square in 1862 and soon became known as one of the biggest dealers of foreign products in England.  Sanderson kept his estate agents busy, and shortly after his first move, in 1865 he re-located to 52 Berners Street, Fitzrovia, and proceeded to spread his empire along the road, renting out development and showroom space.  This small street to the north of Oxford Street was to be the home of Sanderson until 1992.

The expansion of the firm continued to such an extent that in 1879, Arthur Sanderson, commissioned a factory to be built in Chiswick to house the manufacturing of his wallpaper.  By 1895 the company occupied numbers 50-55 Berners Street and was declared to be the largest wallpaper showroom in London. By the end of the 1800s, Sanderson joined the Wall Paper Manufacturers Ltd and controlled 98% of trade, exporting to the British Colonies and the USA.

In the early 1900s, developments in technology and printing enabled Sanderson to be one of the first companies to advertise in colour.  The success continued – not only was another factory opened in Uxbridge, the showroom was again expanded and Arthur continued his monopolisation of Berners Street, Fitzrovia.  However, production was brought to a halt with the outbreak of World War II.  Shortages and paper rationing meant pattern books could not be created, and not long after the Sanderson factories were called up to duty and engaged in wartime production.  The Uxbridge factory was tasked with manufacturing camouflage for aircraft, Red Cross haversacks and was even used for experimental work with anti-radar equipment.  The end of the war saw a period of prosperity sweep across Britain, and in 1946, Sanderson was represented at the V&A Museum exhibition ‘Britain Can Make It’.  Following the show, Sanderson was awarded Royal Warrants and continued to produce outstanding shows at the Berners Street, Fitzrovia showrooms.

In 1960, Sanderson’s celebrated it centenary by moving to the long awaited new offices at 58-60 Berners Street, W1.  The occasion was marked with an exhibition of Sanderson’s work and products.  The new building continued to serve as home to Sanderson, and the company celebrated its 125th anniversary there with another exhibition and a re-vamped showroom.

In 1992 the Berners Street offices and showrooms were closed.  The hotel in Fitzrovia was put up for sale by estate agents and it was not until April 2000 that the newly renovated Sanderson Hotel opened.  The hotel is now in its 15th year, and commemorates its important heritage with bold, colorful interiors and regularly hosting art and fashion events.

Next time you stroll along Berners Street take a closer look at the Sanderson Hotel, Fitzrovia, and feel proud that such an important company called the small road near you, home.

Contact Davis Brown Estate Agents and Chartered Suveyors for more information about commercial and residential property in Fitzrovia.



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