Hoover Factory Building No 7, London

  • Western Avenue Greenford, Middlesex, UB6 8DW
  • Designed by: Wallis Gilbert and Partners
  • Built: 1938
  • Tags: Factory, Streamlined Moderne

Building No 7 is part of the former Hoover Factory complex in Perivale, west London. It is one of three surviving structures from the site, built between 1932 and 1938. The site is alongside the A40 arterial route, which runs from the City of London to Fishguard in Wales. Building No 7 is next to the former main office building. Together they are an impressive sight for commuters and visitors entering and leaving London.

The Hoover factory site was built for the American Hoover Company as part of the company's expansion plans, when it established a manufacturing base for the company's British vacuum cleaner division.

The main office building was constructed in 1932 and subsequently extended in 1934. Building No 7 was built in 1938 as the factory canteen building. Like the main office building, Building No 7 was designed by the firm of Wallis, Gilbert and Partners. The partnership designed some of Britain's finest Modernist industrial buildings. In addition to the Hoover Factory buildings a concentration of buildings by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners can be found on the 'Golden Mile' stretch of the Great West Road (the A4) in London.

Although complementing the main factory building, Building No 7 is different in its design. The main building is Art Deco in style, with Egyptian-styled motifs. Building No 7 is in the Streamlined Moderne style.

Building No 7 is constructed using a steel-reinforce concrete frame and extends over three storeys. The building extends deeply along Bideford Avenue (which borders the western extent of the building). The exterior is rendered in 'Snowcrete', a type of portland-limestone cement with a brilliant white pigment, that has good durability against weathering.

The exterior varies on all elevations. The main, southern facade (shown above, facing on to the A40) has three bays, with the outer bays projecting forward of the main body of the building. At ground floor level there are doors at each corner with corner windows, either side of a three bay section comprising two outer bays which curve inwards and a wide central window.

Above, the first storey features a balcony projecting out from the building, with railings and a clock on the balcony parapet. The windows of the first floor outer bays curve back inwards while the inner bay features two slender, projecting pilasters. There are narrow, double-height windows either side of the pilasters, with a central projecting, double-height window bay, with a 'V'-shape footprint not unlike the prow of a ship.

The third storey mirrors that below, albeit the windows are slightly squatter. The inner bay terminates above the main body of the building, with a V-shaped pediment with vertical fluting.

The eastern elevation (shown above) has two squat towers at the south-eastern and north-eastern corners of the building. The windows on the three storeys are strong, horizontal bands of glass with the same green-painted metal window frames used elsewhere on the building.

The western elevation is the simplest, with horizontal 'ribbons' of windows on all three storeys. The north elevation is not unlike the south, but slightly simpler in its execution with squared-off bays rather than having bays that which curve inwards.

By the early 1980s production at the Western Avenue site was switched to another Hoover site in Scotland. The site fell into disrepair, the neglect typified the problem of finding sustainable uses for large, redundant buildings of architectural significance.

Following the purchase of the site by the Tesco supermarket chain in 1989 the site was redeveloped as a supermarket. Although the factory building behind the main office building was demolished the main office building, eastern range and Building No 7 were preserved and restored. In 1999 the interior of Building No 7 was refitted as office space and a staff café.

The main office building was awarded Grade-II* listed status on 7 May 1981, seven months after the main building was also listed Grade-II*.

Posted by Richard Coltman on Saturday, September 1, 2012

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