Gower Street, London

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Gower Street

Gower Street is a street in Bloomsbury, central London, running from Montague Place in the south to Euston Road at the north. The street continues as North Gower Street north of the Euston Road. To the south it becomes Bloomsbury Street.

University College London (UCL) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art are located along Gower Street as is part of University College Hospital. UCL maintains two student residences along the street: the Arthur Tattersall and John Tovell Houses. Of the many UCL buildings along Gower Street, the Cruciform Building is especially notable, both for its striking red exterior and its obvious form, even when viewed from the road. Old boys of University College School are known as "Old Gowers" after the street where it founded and co-located with UCL.

Euston Square Underground station is located at the north end of Gower Street, at the corner of Euston Road.


Map of Gower Street

Gower Street is named after Lady Gertrude Leveson-Gower, daughter of John Leveson-Gower, and who in 1737 became the second wife of Bloomsbury landowner Lord John Russell.[1]


Notable residents of Gower Street have included the architect George Dance the Younger, painter William de Morgan,[2] and the Shaws. John Shaw, Sr., and John Shaw, Jr., formed a famous 19th century architectural partnership. Thomas Budd Shaw was a professor of English literature to the grand dukes of Russia.

The painter John Everett Millais had a studio here.[citation needed]This was also the birthplace and childhood home of the artist Philip Zec and his eleven other siblings, although that was when it was still called George Street.

On 26 March 1835 the Rev William Agutter died here.

In March 1837, Giuseppe Mazzini (Italian politician, journalist and activist for the unification of Italy) moved to 187 North Gower Street (at the time, 9 George Street, and now used for the filming of Sherlock) together with Italian poet and patriot Giovanni Ruffini, his brother Agostino Ruffini and Angelo Usiglio, living there for three years until 1840.

On 29 December 1838, Charles Darwin took the let of the furnished property at 12 Upper Gower Street (later 110 Gower Street), and wrote to tell his fiancée Emma Wedgwood of his delight at being the "possessor of Macaw Cottage".[3] As their daughter Etty later recalled, "He used to laugh over the ugliness of their house in Gower St, and the furniture in the drawing-room, which he said combined all the colours of the macaw in hideous discord",[4] and Darwin had christened the house "Macaw Cottage" in "allusion to the gaudy colours of the walls and furniture."[5] He moved in on 31 December, and with Emma moved in on the day of their marriage, 29 January 1839. The development of Darwin's theory of natural selection made progress in this house, and their children William Erasmus Darwin and Anne Darwin were born there.

In 1842 the family moved to Down House in the Kent countryside, and the Gower Street house became part of the warehouse system of Messrs Schoolbred. On 13 December 1904 a London County Council blue plaque was put up, to "Charles Darwin Naturalist". The house suffered from bomb damage in 1941 during the Blitz, and was not repaired. In 1961 the site became part of the Biological Sciences building of University College London, with a new plaque. The long thin garden which backed on to Gower Mews North (later Malet Place) was incorporated into Foster Court car park in 1978.[6]

The etymologist and philologist Hensleigh Wedgwood, who was Charles Darwin's cousin and brother-in-law, lived at 94 Gower Street; he died there in 1891.[7]

UCL entrance

On the wall of the University College building, an elaborate wall plaque carries the legend: "Close to this place Richard Trevithick (Born 1771 - Died 1833) Pioneer of High Pressure Steam ran in the year 1808 the first steam locomotive to draw passengers." It was erected by "The Trevithick Centenary Memorial Committee".[8]

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in the Millais family house on Gower Street in the winter of 1848–49.[citation needed]

Millicent Fawcett, a leading figure in the constitutional wing of the British women's suffrage movement, lived at No. 2 Gower Street (and died there in 1929).

The Walloon (Belgian) poet Henri Michaux briefly resided in Gower Street in February 1931.[citation needed]

From 1976 until 1995 the headquarters of MI5 were an anonymous grey office block at 140 Gower Street, adjacent to the Euston Road.[9][10] The site has since been redeveloped.

Many of the Georgian houses on Gower Street have been converted into small hotels.

North Gower Street[edit]

North Gower Street standing in for Baker Street during the filming of Sherlock.

North Gower Street, the northern continuation of Gower Street beyond Euston Road, is not accessible from Gower Street at street level for vehicles or pedestrians. For pedestrians, the most direct access is via a subway along the concourse of Euston Square station.

From Euston Road, North Gower Street continues past Drummond Street and then ends, with a footpath continuing north to connect with the Hampstead Road. It is lined mostly with Georgian terraced houses now mostly converted into hotels and student accommodation or rebuilt, and council housing.

The BBC crime drama Sherlock has used 187 North Gower Street, posing as 221B Baker Street, for many external shots of Sherlock Holmes's flat. The location is instantly recognisable by the adjacent Speedy's cafe and sandwich shop which is also shown in most external shots in the series. The blue plaque for former resident Giuseppe Mazzini, clearly visible on Google Street View, is covered by a fake lamp for filming.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gower Street, Camden". Hidden London. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  2. ^ Crawford, Alan (2004) 'Morgan, William Frend De (1839-1917)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press [1], Retrieved on 20 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Letter 463 — Darwin, C. R. to Wedgwood, Emma (Darwin, Emma), (29 Dec 1838)". Darwin Correspondence Project. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  4. ^ Litchfield, H. E. [Recollection of Darwin on Macaw cottage]. CUL-DAR112.B99
  5. ^ Litchfield 1915, p. 18
  6. ^ Freeman 2007, p. 280
  7. ^ Herford, C. H.; rev. John D. Haigh (2004). "Wedgwood, Hensleigh (1803–1891)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  8. ^ Plaques of London: Richard Trevithick
  9. ^ Terry Kirby, MI5 edges out of the shadows, The Independent, 17 July 1993
  10. ^ John O'Connell, London's espionage locations revealed, Time Out, 17 July 1993

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′21″N 0°07′57″W / 51.5224°N 0.1326°W / 51.5224; -0.1326