In my quest, *cough* ok our obsession for all things art deco, the other week we out geeked ourselves by visiting a supermarket. Needless to say this was no ordinary shop as the Grade II* Listed Hoover Factory had been on our Must Do list for a while as it is one of the finest art deco buildings in London.
The Hoover Building, the former UK's Head Office for the American vacuum cleaner manufacturers, was designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners (1931 – 35). With a wide elevation fifteen bays long and with towers either side set back from the main frontage, it's built to impress. When it was opened the press referred to it as the *Modern Palace of Industry*. It was constructed on one of the new main roads into London and was designed to be admired by the passing motorists. However we took the tube to visit this magnificent building which today is a branch of Tesco's supermarkets.
This must be London's most elegant supermarket
Just before we disembarked from our tube train we had our first glimpse of the store and were both instantly thrilled, making our initial apprehension about travelling all the way out to Perivale disappear. It was then just a short ten minutes walk from the station to the store. On arrival we decided to explore the rear of the building first and leave its impressive front block facade for the grand finale.
The supermarket entrance
When the Hoover factory closed in 1982 the building's future was uncertain until Tesco purchased it in 1989. The main manufacturing area located at the rear has now been removed and replaced by a car park and a supermarket with a contemporary interior. However the front block and the canteen have been carefully restored and many of the original art deco features have been lovingly preserved. Unfortunately when we visited the canteen block was covered in scaffolding and pending opening soon as Nawaab, an Asian restaurant, so I haven't included any photos of it. However that will provide a good reason for a return trip and an update blog post in the future.
Detail of the supermarket entrance
What I most liked about the supermarket side of the building was the attention to detail. At first glance it looks like any other supermarket but taking a closer look there are lots of art deco features, for example the curved wall and the green fan shaped window next to the Tesco sign.
The trolley park incorporates stylised art deco features
The trolley park incorporates the same orange and red colours used in the front block's facade. Its Egyptian style pillars are also simular.
Details of the decorative fan shaped lighting
One of my favourite features was the use of different lighting around the complex. In the trolley park they had fan shaped lighting which is a very popular art deco motif.
The street lights also have an art deco design
The same fan shape motif was used on the lampposts located in the car park.
I was unable to ascertain if the garage buildings were original but they certainly had a 1930s feel to them.
Front block and the original entrance gates
Front block was constructed using "snowconcreate" a type of Portland limestone cement with a brilliant white pigment which was durable to the weather ensured that the facade always sparkles. The simplicity of the pure white walls are highly contrasted by decorative trimmings of the large aquamarine painted window frames and the colourful glazed tiles.
The building must have looked very diferent during World War II when it was used to manufacture aircraft parts and it was camouflaged with netting to avoid it being spotted by German aircraft.
In the 1980s the original gate piers were moved when the road was widened.
Detail of the gates on the front block - note the H for Hoover
Detail of the Ancient Egyptian motif - the curved tail of the Eye of Horus
This building, like many other art deco buildings of the time, has some Egyptian motifs which were influenced by Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922. As well as the Eye of Horus detail above there are also the Egyptian style pillars.
The main block is flanked on either side by office wings with full height windows.
Address: Tesco, Old Hoover Building, Western Avenue, UB6 8DW
Nearest Tube Station: Perivale is on the Central Line and is in Travelcard Zone 4. The Hoover Building is an easy 10 minute walk from the station.
Opening Hours: The Hoover Building is now a branch of Tesco. Please check their website for opening times before travelling.
If you enjoyed reading this you might also like our blog about Eltham Palace, another splendid art deco building.
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds