2 weeks ago

Arding & Hobbs: A Historic Gem Reborn

The iconic Arding & Hobbs department store, a Clapham Junction landmark since 1884, is undergoing a magnificent transformation.

Established by William Arding and James Hobb, this was their third drapery business when Clapham Junction was still a modest backwater. The original building was tragically destroyed by fire on 20th December 1909 but was promptly rebuilt in 1910.

A Focal Point Reimagined

Rebuilt in a grand Edwardian Baroque style, the new Arding & Hobbs quickly became the heart of the local community. It was the go-to destination for middle-class housewives who previously had to cross the river to the West End for their shopping. The building’s third floor, crowned by a stunning stained-glass dome, once housed a restaurant where a band played daily, and grand banquets and balls were held.

The Fall and Rise

In 2020, the building began to fall into disrepair following the liquidation of Debenhams. Recognising the historic value of Arding & Hobbs, developer W.RE took on the challenge of restoring and expanding this beloved landmark. Their vision has brought new life to the building, transforming it into an inspirational workspace for around 1,000 people.

Unveiling Original Beauty

W.RE collaborated with architects Stiff+Trevillion to peel away decades of retail fixtures and fittings, revealing the building’s original splendour. Brick and stone walls, the spectacular stained-glass dome, and a large barrel-vaulted stained-glass roof were all uncovered. Conservationists painstakingly restored the glass roof by hand, using toothbrushes and vinegar—a process that took three weeks.

A New Crown

A striking new addition to the building is the innovative 8-meter ‘crown’ at the top. Made from new copper, these roof elements will naturally age over time. Each panel will develop a unique patina, eventually blending seamlessly with the colour of the historic cupola.

Cultural Icon

Arding & Hobbs holds a place in popular culture too. The building’s prominent cupola, with its clock, is featured in the music video “Life On Your Own” by The Human League. Set in a future, apocalyptic London, the video shows the lead singer as the only person left alive, living in the building.

A Bright Future

The restoration of Arding & Hobbs not only preserves a piece of Clapham Junction’s history but also revitalises it for future generations. This grand old department store, once the pinnacle of local shopping and social life, is set to become a bustling hub of activity once more, blending its rich heritage with modern innovation.

Arding & Hobbs is back, and it’s looking better than ever. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or just curious to see the transformation, this is a destination you won’t want to miss.

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