The William and The Whiteley

23rd February 2024

The façade of William Whiteley’s retail empire in West London has been immortalised as part of a major redevelopment project. Some of the most creative architects and developers have transformed the original store in Queensway to create a new living community.

The Whiteley façadeWhen William Whiteley died in 1907, he left a £1 million legacy to provide homes for older people of limited financial means, in need of a home. This led to the purchase of land, and the building of Whiteley Village in Hersham, near Walton on Thames in Surrey.

Today the almshouse village is home to over 400 older people who meet the admissions criteria of our charity, in almshouse cottages and extra-care apartments in Huntley House. At the time of his death, our Founder was better known as a retail entrepreneur having started his own business with the purchase of a ‘fancy goods’ (drapery) shop in 1863. He operated from Westbourne Grove in Bayswater, London and over the next decade his customer base grew significantly along with his property expansion and by 1867, his shop occupied a row of shops along Westbourne Grove, comprising 17 separate departments.

By 1872 the business had expanded to offer dressmaking and its first ventures beyond textiles followed with the addition of a house agency, decorating, food and a delivery service. ‘Whiteleys’ first opened its doors to the public in 1911 as London’s first luxury department store and at its height, there were 6,000 staff employed with the majority living in company-owned dormitories. The store was described as “an immense symposium of the arts and industries of the nation and of the world”.

Bedroom at The WhiteleyAfter several fires and William Whiteley’s untimely death, the business moved to a purpose-built site in nearby Queens Road, now known as Queensway. In 1927 it was purchased by Harry Gordon Selfridge as part of his successful retail empire and over the next few decades, it changed ownership several times. Notably, in October 1940, as the Battle of Britain raged over the skies with the German Luftwaffe, the buildings suffered bomb damage.

Through the subsequent decades, the upstairs floors were converted to offices and the empire changed ownership again until September 2013, when Meyer Bergman purchased the premises. In 2018 Whiteleys closed to pave the way for the complete regeneration of Queensway Parade.

This restoration of the original building has breathed new life into the space. It has retained many of the original Grade II Listed elements, including the famous clock, sculptures, and iconic dome; features that would have greeted retailers as they entered the store in its heyday. This contrasts with the clean, modern and spacious living areas inside, which occupy over 1.1 million sq ft comprising of 139 apartments, 20 new shops, cafés and restaurants, a cinema and a state-of-the-art gym.

Living room at The WhiteleyAdditionally, it includes a 110-bedroom hotel with spa and members’ wellness club. The building’s historic iron staircase features as an interior centrepiece for the new hotel lobby, leading residents and members to various spaces within the complex.

Opposite The Whiteley in London, will be a new design-led mixed-use development with workspaces, shops and more homes as part of the wider Queensway regeneration. This complex which will be named The William, was also designed by Foster + Partners who undertook The Whiteley project. The building will deliver six floors of office space spanning 90,000 sq ft alongside 21,000 sq ft of shops and 32 new homes. Work started in 2023 and completion is expected in 2026.

These developments are a new chapter in the Whiteley story and adds to the memory of William Whiteley, “The Universal Provider”.

Our thanks to the Marketing Team at for sharing images and information about The Whiteley and The William developments.

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