The Burlington Arcade is a covered shopping arcade in London, that runs behind Bond Street from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens. It is one of the precursors of the mid-19th-century European shopping gallery and the modern shopping centre. The Burlington Arcade was built "for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand, for the gratification of the public". It was one of the London's earliest arcades, built at a time when the arcade was a new form of retail shopping designed to serve the growing middle classes.
The arcade was built to the order of Lord George Cavendish, younger brother of the 5th Duke of Devonshire, who had inherited the adjacent Burlington House, on what had been the side garden of the house and was reputedly to prevent passers-by throwing oyster shells and other rubbish over the wall of his home. His architect was Samuel Ware. The Arcade opened on 20 March 1819. It consisted of a single straight top-lit walkway lined with seventy-two small two storey units. Some of the units have now been combined, reducing the number of shops to around forty. The ponderous Piccadilly façade in a late version of Victorian Mannerism was added in the early 20th century.
The pedestrian arcade, with smart uniform shop fronts under a glazed roof, has always been an upmarket retail location. It is patrolled by Burlington Arcade beadles in traditional uniforms including top hats and frockcoats. The original beadles were all former members of Lord George Cavendish's regiment, the 10th Hussars. Present tenants include a range of clothing, footwear and accessory shops, art and antique dealers and the jewellers and dealers in antique silver for which the Arcade is best known.
The Burlington Arcade was the successful prototype for larger glazed shopping arcades, beginning with the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels and The Passage in St Petersburg, the first of Europe's grand arcades, to the Galleria Umberto I in Naples or the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.
The sedate atmosphere of the Burlington Arcade was interrupted in 1964 when a Jaguar Mark X charged down the arcade, scattering pedestrians, and six masked men leapt out, smashed the windows of the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Association shop and stole jewellery valued at £35,000. They were never caught.
- Byrne-Paquet, L., The Urge to Splurge: A Social History of Shopping, ECW Press, Toronto, Canada, pp 92-95
- Byrne-Paquet, L., The Urge to Splurge: A Social History of Shopping, ECW Press, Toronto, Canada, p. 94
- "The giant company that has invested billions across Europe". thetelegraphandargus. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
- Geist, Johann F. (1982) Arcades: The History of a Building Type. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-07082-0
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