Rowton Houses

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Rowton House in Highgate, Birmingham, now a hotel

Rowton Houses was a chain of hostels built in London, England, by the Victorian philanthropist Lord Rowton to provide decent accommodation for working men in place of the squalid lodging houses of the time.

George Orwell, in his 1933 book Down and Out In Paris and London, wrote about lodging houses:[1]

The best are the Rowton Houses, where the charge is a shilling, for which you get a cubicle to yourself, and the use of excellent bathrooms. You can also pay half a crown for a ‘special’, which is practically hotel accommodation. The Rowton Houses are splendid buildings, and the only objection to them is the strict discipline, with rules against cooking, card playing, etc.

The Rowton Houses throughout London were:

  • Rowton House, 1 – 9 Bondway, Vauxhall, 1892
  • Kings Cross, 1894 (the serial killer John Christie stayed here for four nights in 1953 shortly before his arrest)
  • Parkview House in Newington Butts, 1897. Demolished in 2007.
  • Hammersmith, 1897, later demolished
  • Tower House in Whitechapel, 1902. The building has since been developed into luxury housing. Joseph Stalin stayed there for a fortnight in 1907.[2]
  • Arlington House in Camden Town, 1905.[3] The last and largest of the Houses, and the only one to remain in use, partially, as a hostel as of 2016. For its first 80 years it had capacity for 1,200 tenants.

The architect for the bulk of the houses was Harry Bell Measures FRIBA, who also designed the tube stations for the Central London Railway in 1900 and was well known as the designer of many army barracks.

There was also a Rowton House in Highgate, Birmingham, which opened on 29 June 1903. It was built by the Birmingham Rowton Houses Ltd, from the designs and under the supervision of Measures. This building later became a hotel.[4]


  1. ^ George Orwell (1933). "Down and Out in Paris and London, Chapter 37". Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  2. ^ Mark Gould, Jo Revill (24 October 2004). "Luxury beckons for East End's house of history". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  3. ^ About Arlington House
  4. ^ "History | Destination Hotel Birmingham | The Rowton Hotel". Retrieved 2019-04-16.

External links[edit]