On the corner with Theobald's Road (part of the A401) is the complex that formerly housed Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and the Cochrane Theatre. There are several major hotels on Southampton Row, including the Bedford, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - West End, and Holborn hotels.
The street was named after Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton. It was previously known as Kingsgate Street.
The first studio of the sculptor Robert William Sievier (1794–1865) was in Southampton Row until 1837.
The Central School of Art and Design, formerly the Central School of Arts and Crafts, was established by the London County Council in 1896 in Southampton Row to provide specialist art teaching for workers in the craft industries. The architect William Lethaby (1857–1931) was the first Principal, as recorded by a blue plaque on Southampton Row.
Sir John Barbirolli, the conductor and cellist, was born in Southampton Row on 2 December 1899. A commemorative blue plaque was placed on the wall of the Bloomsbury Park Hotel in May 1993 to mark his birthplace.
In 1907 the Institute of Education moved to its first purpose-built building on Southampton Row. In 1938 the Institute moved to the Senate House complex of the University of London on Malet Street, not far away to the northwest.
On 12 September 1933 the Hungarian physicist Leó Szilárd, an exile from Nazi Germany, had an insight that changed the course of history as he crossed the pedestrian traffic lights at the junction of Southampton Row with Russell Square. He realised that splitting an atom with a neutron could produce further neutrons which themselves could also split atoms, leading to a chain reaction and a massive release of energy. This led directly to the development of the atomic bomb and nuclear energy.
The Sue Ryder Care charity, established in 1953, is registered at 114–118 Southampton Row.
Olympic Road Network
Southampton Row formed part of the ORN (Olympic Road Network) for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, its designation causing some controversy.