Regent Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London. It
is named after George, the Prince Regent (later George IV) and was
built under the direction of the architect John Nash. The street runs
from Waterloo Place in
St James's at the southern end, through
Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, to All Souls Church. From there
Langham Place and
Portland Place continue the route to Regent's Park.
The street was completed in 1825 and was an early example of town
planning in England, replacing a number of earlier roads including
Swallow Street. Nash's street layout has survived, although all the
original buildings except All Souls Church have been replaced
following reconstruction in the late 19th century. The street is
known for its flagship retail stores, including Liberty, Hamleys,
Jaeger and the Apple Store. The Royal Polytechnic Institution, now the
University of Westminster, has been based on
Regent Street since 1838.
2.1 Beginnings: 1811–1825
2.2 Rebuilding: 1895–1927
Crown Estate redevelopment
3.3 University of Westminster
5 Cultural references
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
Regent Street is approximately 0.8 miles (1.3 km) long and begins
at a junction with
Charles II Street
Charles II Street as a continuation of Waterloo
Place.[a] It runs north to
Piccadilly Circus, where it turns left
before curving round the Quadrant to head north again, meeting Oxford
Street at Oxford Circus. It ends at a junction with Cavendish Place
and Mortimer Street near the
BBC Broadcasting House, with the road
ahead being Langham Place, followed by Portland Place.
The southern section of the road is one-way northbound and part of the
A4, a major road through West London. From
northwards, it is numbered A4201, though in common with roads inside
the London congestion charging zone, the number does not appear on
Nearby tube stations are Charing Cross,
Piccadilly Circus and Oxford
Circus; the lattermost being one of the busiest underground
stations in London, and is where three main lines (Central,
Bakerloo and Victoria) meet. Numerous bus routes, such as 6, 12,
and 13, run along Regent Street.
Panoramic view of Oxford Circus; the location where Oxford Street
meets Regent Street
Regent Street proposal, published 1813, titled "PLAN, presented to the
House of Commons, of a STREET proposed from CHARING CROSS to PORTLAND
PLACE, leading to the
Crown Estate in Marylebone Park"
Regent Street was one of the first planned developments of London. The
desire to impose order on the city's medieval street pattern dates
back to the aftermath of the
Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London (1666) when Sir
Christopher Wren and
John Evelyn drew plans for rebuilding the city on
the classical formal model, but progress was slow and houses were
rebuilt on the old street network anyway.
In 1766, John Gwynn complained in his work London and Westminster
Improved that there was a lack of planning throughout the West End and
that it would be useful to construct a thoroughfare linking Marylebone
Park (now Regent's Park) with the Prince Regent's Carlton House. John
Fordyce was appointed as Surveyor-General to the First Commissioner of
Woods and Forests in 1793 and concluded that there should be a
suitable road in place by 1811, when the lease for Marylebone Park ran
out and ownership reverted to the Crown. It was hoped the road could
link Pall Mall and the Haymarket, of which has since declined in
quality. A further problem was increased congestion around Charing
Cross, which would benefit from road improvements.
The street was designed by John Nash, who had been appointed to the
Office of Woods and Forests in 1806 and previously served as an
adviser to the Prince Regent. He put forward his own plans for the
street in 1810 following the death of Fordyce, envisioning broad,
architecturally distinguished thoroughfares and public spaces.
Regent Street in 1837, seen from
Piccadilly Circus. The
buildings have since been replaced
Nash originally wanted to construct a straight boulevard in the same
style seen in French cities, but this was not possible because of
issues with land ownership. The final design resulted in the road
being situated further west than previous plans, and Nash believed the
road would run down a de facto line separating the upper classes and
Mayfair with the working class in Soho. The northern
section involved demolishing most of the existing Swallow Street,
which had become run down and was an ideal candidate for
regeneration. The road was designed to curve east between Oxford
Piccadilly so that it did not meet
St James's Square, and
the circuses allowed visual continuity down the street. The central
section, known as the Quadrant, was designed for "shops appropriated
to articles of fashion and taste," and was Nash's centrepiece design
of the entire street. It was built with a colonnade made out of
cast-iron columns, allowing commuters to walk along the street without
having to face bad weather. The various buildings along the Quadrant
had different facades, which was a deliberate choice by Nash to break
away from the uniform design of the previous century, as well as a
pragmatic means of using what building materials were available and
what clients wanted. The road was planned to end outside Carlton
House in Pall Mall, the residence of the Prince of Wales. Nash
insisted that businesses on the new street would be of high-quality,
rivalling that of the nearby Bond Street; common trades such as
butchers or greengrocers were not allowed.
The design was adopted by an Act of Parliament in 1813, which
permitted the commissioners to borrow £600,000 for building and
construction. The street was intended to have commercial purposes and
it was expected that a majority of the income would come from private
capital. Nash took responsibility for design and valuation of all
properties. Construction of the road resulted in demolishing
numerous properties, disrupting trade and polluting the air with
dust. Existing tenants had first offer to purchase leases on the
new properties. The Treasury supported the proposal because, in
the aftermath of the lengthy Napoleonic Wars, there was an urgent need
for the government to create jobs. Government expenditure was low
because the design relied heavily upon private developers, such as
Nash himself. The buildings were to be let on 99-year leases, as
was common at the time, and income could be recouped in the form of
Although Nash was responsible for the street's general development,
some individual buildings were designed by Charles Robert Cockerell
and Sir John Soane, amongst others. By 1819, the Crown were receiving
regular rent and the street was becoming established. At first, it
was called New Street and became a dividing line between Soho, which
had declined socially and economically, and the fashionable squares
and streets of
Mayfair to the west.
Carlton House did not last
long following completion of the works and was demolished in 1829, to
be replaced by
Carlton House Terrace, also designed by Nash.
Regent Street became the first shopping area in Britain to support
late night opening in 1850, when shopkeepers agreed to keep stores
open until 7pm.
The Quadrant on Regent Street, leading to
During the 19th century,
Regent Street became established as the
"centre of fashion." Shops expanded into multiple properties, selling
imported and exotic products to appeal to niche consumers. By the
end of the century, fashions had changed and the original buildings
were small and old fashioned, restricting trade. The colonnade
constructed by Nash was demolished in the mid-19th century for fear it
might attract "doubtful characters." Other buildings were not up
to modern building standards; some had been extended and were
structurally suspect. As the 99-year leases came to an end, Regent
Street was redeveloped between 1895 and 1927 under the control of the
Office of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues (now known as the Crown
Regent Street is the result of this redevelopment. No
original structures survive except south of
Oxford Circus for some
Nash-designed sewers. The current design is an example of the
Beaux Arts approach to urban design: an assembly of separate buildings
on a grand scale, designed to harmonise and produce an impressive
overall effect. Strict rules governed the reconstruction. Each
block had to be designed with a continuous unifying street façade and
finished in Portland stone. The first redevelopment was Regent
House, just south of Oxford Circus. The stylistic tone for the
rebuilding was set by Sir Reginald Blomfield's Quadrant.
The architect Norman Shaw, then aged 73, was brought in to draw up
proposals for the Circus and the Quadrant after early plans were felt
to be unsatisfactory. His scheme was approved in principle but subject
to indecision and dispute, both on property acquisition and retailers'
demand for bigger display windows. Shaw's design for the
Piccadilly Hotel was completed in 1908 with modifications, while the
Quadrant was rebuilt by Blomfield, adapting Shaw's designs. The work
started in 1923 and was completed by 1928. Significantly, no
accommodation was built above any of the retail properties,
contributing to the demise of the West End as a place of
residence. A limited number of architects were responsible for the
redesigned street, including Sir John James Burnet, Arthur Joseph
Davis and Henry Tanner.
Regent Street in 1942, facing
Work was delayed by World War I and it was not until 1927 that its
completion was celebrated by King
George V and Queen Mary driving in
state along its length. The only remaining Nash building is All
Souls Church and all the buildings on the street are at least Grade II
listed. All the properties are in the
Regent Street Conservation
Crown Estate redevelopment
By the 1970s,
Regent Street had started to decline because of
under-investment and competition from neighbouring areas such as
Oxford Street or shopping centres away from Central London. In 2002,
the Crown Estate, which owns most of
Regent Street on behalf of the
Queen, started a major redevelopment programme. In 2013 the Estate
sold a quarter of the 270,000-square-foot (25,000 m2) Regent
Street Quadrant 3 building to the Norwegian Oil Fund, while later
Hackett London bought the lease for the
Ferrari store on
Regent Street for £4m. Smaller shops have been replaced by larger
units; the street is now the flagship location of several major
brands, including Apple and Banana Republic.
The largest part of the plan was the reconstruction of the Quadrant
Piccadilly Circus, which was completed in 2011. It offers
200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) of office space spanning over
seven floors. Two Art Deco-designed restaurants have also been
restored, and the development includes a small number of
Crown Estate moved its own headquarters from
Carlton House Terrace to
Regent Street in 2006.
Liberty is at the junction of
Regent Street with Great Marlborough
The department store
Dickins and Jones was established at No. 54
Oxford Street as Dickins and Smith before moving to
Regent Street in 1835. It was renamed to Dickins
and Jones in the 1890s after John Pritchard Jones became a business
partner, and by the turn of the 20th century employed over 200 people.
It became part of the
Harrods group in 1914, and expanded to cover
Nos. 224–244 in 1922, in a new building designed by Sir Henry
Tanner. In 1959,
House of Fraser
House of Fraser took over the store by buying the
Harrods group. In 2005,
House of Fraser
House of Fraser announced that the store
would close the following year, after it had been making a loss for
several years and not kept up with more fashion-conscious department
stores elsewhere. The building has been redeveloped with small shop
units on the lower floors and flats and offices above.
The Liberty department store is based at Nos. 210–220. It was
founded by entrepreneur Arthur Lasenby Liberty, who had been inspired
1862 International Exhibition
1862 International Exhibition and wanted to open an oriental
warehouse. He opened his first shop, East India House in 1875 at
No. 218a, selling silk garments and various oriental goods. The
shop expanded into other properties on
Regent Street in the 1880s,
separated by a jeweller's shop which was bridged by a double staircase
called the "Camel's Back." Liberty later took over all of
Nos. 140–150 Regent Street. In 1925, this complex was
replaced by two new buildings, and a mock tudor building (built by
Edwin T. Hall
Edwin T. Hall and his son Edwin S. Hall, constructed from
the timbers of two ships, the HMS Impregnable, and the HMS Hindustan)
Great Marlborough Street
Great Marlborough Street connected by a footbridge
over Kingly Street, which separates the properties.
The toy store
Hamleys is at No. 188 Regent Street, just south of
Oxford Circus. It was founded as Noah's Ark at No. 231 High
Holborn in 1760. An additional branch opened at Nos. 64–66
Regent Street in 1881, while the original
High Holborn building burned
down in 1901, moving to Nos. 86–87. The store was frequently
the first to market the latest games and toys, and became a strong
seller of table tennis equipment in the late 19th century, allowing
the sport to become popular. The business moved to
Nos. 200–202, and moved to the current address in 1981. It
claims to be the largest toy shop in the world.
The main London branch of the clothing store Jaeger is at
Nos. 200–206 Regent Street. It was founded in 1884 by Lewis
Tomalin, who was inspired by naturalist Gustav Jäger's pioneering use
of anti-animal fibre-based clothing. The first shop, on Fore Street,
had "Doctor Jaeger's Sanitary Woollen System" inscribed above the
Oscar Wilde was a regular visitor to the shop. Henry Morton
Stanley is known to have worn Jaeger clothing during his search for
David Livingstone in Africa, as is
Robert Falcon Scott
Robert Falcon Scott on his
fated trip to the South Pole. The company moved to
Regent Street in
Apple Store on Regent Street
Apple Store opened on
Regent Street on 20 November 2004. At the
time, this was the first such store in Europe, with the others
being in the United States and Japan. It was the largest Apple store
worldwide until the opening of an even larger store in Covent Garden
in August 2010.
Austin Reed's flagship store was at Nos. 103–113 Regent Street
for more than 85 years. It had an atrium at its centre, housing
glass lifts allowing viewing across all floors. The lower ground floor
sold womenswear and also housed Austin's, the refurbished Art Deco
Barber Shop. In May 2011, the British fashion retailer Superdry
announced it would move into the building, paying £12m for the lease.
In return, Austin Reed moved to a former
Aquascutum shop on the other
side of the road. In 2016, Austin Reed filed for administration,
ending over 100 years' presence on Regent Street.
Microsoft announced plans to open a flagship retail store on
Broadcasting House is immediately north of the top end of Regent
Street, and has been used by the
BBC since 1932
Immediately north of
Regent Street is the BBC's headquarters,
Broadcasting House, whose front entrance is in Langham Place. Several
national radio stations are broadcast from this building. The site had
formerly been a building on the gardens of Foley House designed by
James Wyatt and called Wyatt's House. It was demolished in 1928 (with
much of the fixtures ending up in the Victoria and Albert Museum) to
construct Broadcasting House. Construction was challenging because the
building had to be visually similar to other properties on Regent
Street, yet also contain over twenty soundproofed studios. The
exterior is built of
Portland stone and above the front entrance is a
sculpture by Eric Gill.
Broadcasting House was first used by the
BBC on 2 May 1932, and total
construction costs were £350,000. It was too small for all services,
and St George's Hall, next to All Souls, was used for variety
broadcasts until it was demolished during the Blitz. On 15 October
1940, the building took a direct hit, killing seven people, and later
that year a landmine exploded on Portland Place, causing widespread
fires in Broadcasting House. Despite the damage, it survived the war
and became one of the best known buildings associated with radio
broadcasting. Subsequently, the
BBC expanded with additional studios
at Maida Vale, followed by the former headquarters of BBC
BBC Television Centre at Wood Lane. In the 2000s,
Broadcasting House was expanded to include a new wing and modernise
the site, replacing earlier extensions. It was designed by MacCormac
Jamieson Prichard. Originally named the Egton Wing, it was renamed
John Peel Wing in 2012, in memory of the radio broadcaster.
Paris Theatre was located in a converted cinema in Lower Regent
Street, near other
BBC buildings. Several rock groups performed live
concerts here, including The Beatles, Queen and Pink Floyd, which were
simultaneously recorded for broadcast. The
BBC stopped using the
theatre in 1995.
University of Westminster
Main article: University of Westminster
The University of Westminster's official flag in royal blue above
No. 309 Regent Street
The University of Westminster's main campus at No. 309 Regent
Street was founded in 1838 under
George Cayley and rebuilt under
Quintin Hogg in 1911. It is one of the oldest educational institutions
in Central London. Historically, the University was once also
titled as the
Royal Polytechnic Institution
Royal Polytechnic Institution (after a royal charter had
been formally received in August 1839 and Prince Albert became a
patron to the institution). It has also been called "The Polytechnic
at Regent Street" and the
Polytechnic of Central London
Polytechnic of Central London (PCL). The
University houses the
Regent Street Cinema
Regent Street Cinema which acted as a platform
for major scientists, artists and authors such as Charles Dickens,
John Henry Pepper, and The Lumière Brothers (Auguste and Louis
Lumière) where public and private screenings of Cinématographe were
shown to an audience. The cinema was restored and reopened to the
public in May 2015.
All Souls Church next to Broadcasting House, as seen from The Heights
All Souls Church is at the top of
Regent Street next to Broadcasting
House. It was built in 1823 out of
Bath stone and consecrated in 1824,
and is the only surviving building in
Regent Street that was designed
by John Nash.
The Café Royal, located at 68
Regent Street in the Quadrant, was
opened in 1865 by
Daniel Nicols and became an institution of London
high society. In 1895
Oscar Wilde argued with
Frank Harris in the
café about his proposal to sue the Marquess of Queensberry for libel
over Wilde's alleged homosexuality. Wilde went ahead with the trial,
which ultimately led to his own arrest and imprisonment. The present
building, by Sir Reginald Blomfield, dates from 1928 and is Grade II
listed. It was closed in 2008 and the building which houses the café
was bought by a subsidiary of Alrov Group, as a part of Crown
Estate's plans to redevelop this part of Regent Street. It is the
oldest shop on Regent Street.
Nigel Mansell driving a Jordan
Formula One car on
Regent Street in
Regent Street is home to several events throughout the year. The
Regent Street Festival happens annually, and during this time, the
street is closed to traffic. In September, there is a series of
fashion-related events, dubbed as Fashion and Design Month (FDM),
which has been running since 2015. In an interview with David
Shaw, the head of the
Regent Street Portfolio, he said that for FDM
2016, they worked with many "talented individuals across a variety of
events, combining creative talent with our established stores."
There have been Christmas lights on
Regent Street in various forms
since 1882. The current regular displays date from 1948, when the
Regent Street Association decorated the street with trees. Since
Regent Street Association have arranged annual Christmas
lights. There is a different display every year and the switching on
ceremony occurs during November.
On 6 July 2004, half a million people crowded into
Regent Street and
the surrounding streets to watch a parade of
Formula One cars. In
2016, the sport's chief manager, Bernie Ecclestone, speculated that a
London Grand Prix may potentially happen in the future, including
Regent Street as a part of the circuit.
The character Lord Frederick Verisopht in Charles Dickens' Nicholas
Nickelby lived in an apartment in Regent Street. This reflected the
nature of the street in the mid-19th century when it was still a
fashionable residence for the upper class.
In August 1839, the first British commercial production of
daguerreotype photographs were carried out in a property on Regent
Street, shortly after the process had been publicly documented.
Regent Street is a location on the British version of Monopoly as a
group of three green squares with
Oxford Street and Bond Street. The
three properties are grouped together as they are all known for their
retail and commercial backgrounds.
List of eponymous roads in London
New Regent Street
New Regent Street in Christchurch, New Zealand
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Westfield Stratford City
Partly occupied by
the Royal Family
St James's Palace
Hampton Court Palace
The Queen's Gallery
Royal Mews, Buckingham Palace
1 Canada Square
8 Canada Square
25 Canada Square
1 Churchill Place
20 Fenchurch Street
St George Wharf Tower
30 St Mary Axe
Crystal Palace transmitting station
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain
Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain ("Eros")
Charing Cross station
Clapham Junction station
King's Cross station
Liverpool Street station
London Bridge station
St Pancras station
Victoria Coach Station
Emirates Air Line cable car
Battersea Power Station
St Bartholomew's Hospital
Hampton Court Park
St. James's Park
Horse Guards Parade
Charing Cross Road
Kensington High Street
Tottenham Court Road
University of Westminster
China Media Centre
Policy Studies Institute
Westminster Business School
Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground
University of Westminster
University of Westminster Boathouse
Quintin and Alice Hogg Memorial
Westminster International University in Tashkent
Westminster International University in Tashkent (WIUT)
Hanover United F.C.
Hanover United F.C. (Polytechnic F.C.)
Polytechnic Rowing club
The Polytechnic Stadium
Albert, Prince Consort
Notable faculty and staff
Association of Commonwealth Universities
European University Association
International Association of Universities