How history has left its imprint on splendid One Aldwych
Multimillion-pound spruce-up for highly regarded hotel that was formerly home to newspaper
14 January, 2019 — By The Xtra Diary
One Aldwych, designed by Anglo-French architects Mewès and Davis in 1907 for The Morning Post newspaper, is being revamped
LET’S all go down the Strand, and halt when we reach the imposing sight of Number One, the Aldwych.
Diary loves a wander through the West End and the chance to discover a little bit of history behind the buildings which make our town, and this grand old building has plenty of tales to share.
It is now home to one of London’s most highly regarded hotels, with restaurant, cinema and swimming pool in its basement, and came to our attention as it’s currently closed for a massive, multi-million-pound spring spruce-up.
And what a history it has.
The building was designed by Anglo-French architects Mewès and Davis in 1907 for The Morning Post newspaper, which was moved from its previous position a little further along the Strand after its former works were knocked down to make way for various redevelopments as this bit of London had a Victorian revamp.
Post owner Lord Glenesk needed a new headquarters, and was impressed by Charles-Frédéric Mewès and Arthur Joseph Davis. The pair were known for their modern techniques, using steel-frame constructions and forging beams off-site for easy assembly.
It meant the new offices and printing works took just two years to complete, and quickly became the talk of Edwardian England for its mix of London grandeur and Parisian elegance.
Printing presses began to roll in the basement, where a swimming pool now sits, while the upper floors were full of hacks, photographers, editors, copy boys, clerks and what-not.
A certain Winston Churchill had a typewriter to clatter away on there. He had reported on the Boer War for the paper and was still trying to forge a life as a newspaper man when the building was opened.
Lord Glenesk sold the Post to the Daily Telegraph in 1927 and the offices then became home to such magazines as Tatler and the Illustrated London News.
Diary hears that British designer Robert Angell – he who did the interiors at The Connaught and The Berkeley – is overseeing the project to revamp 86 bedrooms and 16 suites.
We look forward to raising a glass or two in the bar when the doors are open once more, and listening out for the ghostly echoes of the print trade that gave us such a terrific piece of architecture.