Northumberland Avenue

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Sign at No. 1, Northumberland Avenue

Northumberland Avenue is a street in the City of Westminster in central London that runs from Trafalgar Square in the west to the Thames Embankment in the east. The road was built on the site of Northumberland House, the London home of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland.

Several British government departments are located in buildings on Northumberland Avenue; the Ministry of Defence and the Air Ministry formerly occupied the triangular-shaped Metropole Hotel on the street. Other buildings include the Nigerian high commission and a London School of Economics halls of residence (opposite The Sherlock Holmes pub).

Northumberland Avenue has a square on the British Monopoly board named after it.


Northumberland Avenue begins at Trafalgar Square.

In 1608–09, the Earl of Northampton built Northumberland House on the eastern portion of the former property of the Chapel and Hospital of St. Mary Rounceval, at Charing Cross. This was a considerable property consisting of a house and gardens, running down to the River Thames, and adjoining Scotland Yard to the west. The house suffered some damage in the Wilkes' election riots of 1768, but the duke saved his property by the expedient of opening the nearby Ship Ale House, which drew off the rioters.[1]

In June 1874, the whole of the duke's property at Charing Cross was purchased by the Metropolitan Board of Works for the demolition of the house to form Northumberland Avenue, which would accommodate hotels.[1][2] Contemporary planning permissions forbade hotels to be taller than the width of the road they were on; consequently Northumberland Avenue was built with a wide carraigeway.[2]

The Playhouse Theatre on Northumberland Avenue first opened in 1882. Alec Guinness first performed on stage at the theatre, and the Beatles recorded several sessions for the BBC here.[3]

Thomas Edison's British headquarters, Edison House, was situated on the road. Many prominent personalities of the day had their voices recorded there by the phonograph, including William Ewart Gladstone and P. T. Barnum; these recordings still exist today.

By the 1930s, accommodation on Park Lane and Piccadilly had become more popular. Hotels closed and were sold for other businesses; the seven floor Grand Hotel became a retail headquarters.[2] No. 8 is now an events venue for corporations including Marks & Spencer.[4] The venue is the first in Europe to install amBX lighting.[5]

Northumberland Avenue formed part of the marathon course of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The women's Olympic marathon took place on 5 August and the men's Olympic marathon on 12 August, with the Paralympics following on 9 September.[6][7]

Cultural references[edit]

Northumberland Avenue is referenced several times in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels, where wealthy Oriental visitors stayed in hotels, including the Grand, the Metropole and the Victoria.[8]

The street is part of a group of three on the London Monopoly board, with Pall Mall and Whitehall.[9]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Northumberland House. Survey of London. 18: St Martin-in-the-Fields II: The Strand. 1937. pp. 10–20. Retrieved 14 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c Moore 2003, p. 53.
  3. ^ Moore 2003, p. 54.
  4. ^ Marlow, Ben (8 July 2015). "M&S cannot afford to party on this set of results". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Colston, Paul (15 March 2013). "8 Northumberland Avenue adds new lighting system to Victorian Ballroom". Conference News. Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Wheeler 2011, p. 291.
  9. ^ Moore 2003, p. 45.


Coordinates: 51°30′24″N 0°07′27″W / 51.5068°N 0.1242°W / 51.5068; -0.1242