The renovated Wolseley building in 2014
|Current owner(s)||Chris Corbin and Jeremy King|
The Wolseley is a restaurant located at 160 Piccadilly, London, next to the Ritz Hotel. Originally constructed in 1921 as a car showroom for Wolseley Motors, the Grade II* listed building served as a branch of Barclays Bank between 1927 and 1999. It reopened as a restaurant in 2003 after extensive renovation work.
After the closure of the Barclays branch in 1999, the Wolseley building was left unoccupied until it was purchased in July 2003 by the restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, who began a major restoration and renovation project. The Wolseley opened as a restaurant in November 2003, operating as an all-day café in the "Grand European" style. It has since received numerous accolades, including Zagat's Favourite Restaurant 2012 and 2013, The Observer's Best Breakfast 2005 and 2009, Tatler's Restaurant of the Year 2007 and Harper & Moet's Restaurant of the Year 2004. The Wolseley has consistently been among London's most profitable restaurants, recording sales of over £10 million in 2007 alone.
Wolseley Motors showroom
The six-storey building was commissioned by Wolseley Motors, who bought the site in 1919 for a car showroom and London sales offices. It was designed by the English architect William Curtis Green, drawing inspiration from a recently constructed bank building that he had seen in Boston, Massachusetts. The building, which opened in November 1921, features Venetian and Florentine detailing, with an interior decorated with lavish marble pillars and archways. Wolseley Motors, a part of the Vickers engineering combine, lost its long-term leadership of the British car industry in the early 1920s and fell into receivership in 1926. The Wolseley showroom was sold in June 1926.
Barclays Bank branch
After the departure of Wolseley Motors, the building was acquired by Barclays Bank, and re-opened in April 1927 as 160 Piccadilly Branch. Barclays re-employed the building's original architect, William Curtis Green, to create offices and a banking counter, and design furniture in Japanese lacquer. The branch continued to operate until 1999, whereupon Barclays sold it and opened a new branch in St James's Street.
Architecture and decoration
When the building opened in 1921, elevations to both Arlington Street and Piccadilly were faced with Portland stone. Wolseley's showroom occupied the entire ground floor. The interior walls were of polished Portland stone with blue York stone dressings, and the floor laid with white and black marble in geometric designs. The ceiling consisted of nine domes supported by Doric columns finished in red Japanese lacquer. Red, black and gold lacquer were also used on the doors, screens and wall panels. Lighting was provided by elaborate bronze pendants and concealed lamps which threw their rays into the domes to be reflected to the floor.
- "History". The Wolseley. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
- "Zagat 2013: The Wolseley, Wagamama and Roganic among winners". Big Hospitality. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Observer Food Monthly Awards 2009". The Guardian. 20 March 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Tatler Restaurant Awards 2007". Tatler. 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "The award-winning restaurants". London Evening Standard. 2 November 2004. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Wolseley restaurant sales top £10m". The Caterer. 5 November 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Attack On Oversea Motor Trade." The Times. 8 November 1921. p.6; Issue 42872.
- "Wolseley House Sold. Purchase by Barclays Bank." The Times. 10 June 1926. p.16; Issue 44294.
- The Story of Barclays Bank 160 Piccadilly (1981). Barclays Bank Ltd.