Hoover Building

Home Page / Art Deco Home

Also known as The Hoover 'Factory'

Framed poster of the Hoover Building

Hoover Building under construction

The interwar years were a golden age for industrial architecture. In particular, American corporations spared no cost in setting up European bases that would serve as showcases for their products. In the 1920s and 30s prestigious factories lined newly-​​built arterial highways like the Great West Road (primarily along its so-​​called Golden Mile, in Brentford) and the Eastern and Western Avenues. Some of these striking structures fell victim to the Luftwaffe’s bombs, others to rapacious postwar developers, but a few survive, almost all now turned to other uses.

Modernist britain treatment of the main Hoover building

Image and narrative courtesy and © of Modernist Britain

Standing alongside the A40, to the west of Central London, the Hoover Building is a remarkable landmark for commuters and visitors to London using this main arterial route into the city. Originally built for the American Hoover Company, the factory on Western Avenue was built as a manufacturing base for the company's British vacuum cleaner division. The factory comprised a complex of buildings and were designed by the firm of Wallis, Gilbert and Partners. The architectural firm was established in 1914 and in subsequent decades designed some of the finest Modernist industrial buildings in Britain, including the Firestone Building, a building of similar appearance and equal significance as the Hoover Factory building, needlessly demolished in 1980. The most significant structure on site, the main office building (illustrated above) opened in 1932. The building is constructed using a steel-reinforce concrete frame and has two principal storeys. The exterior is rendered in 'Snowcrete', a type of portland-limestone cement with a brilliant white pigment, that has good durability against weathering. The building's architectural detailing shows the increasing influence of Egypt on art and design following the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter that was prevalent at the time.

The building has a very wide frontage, of fifteen bays, with low towers at either side, set back from the main frontage. The windows within the bays are deeply recessed into the body of the building, separated by stone columns, with distinctive vertical fluting. The windows themselves have three vertical glazing bars and close set horizontal glazing bars, painted a distinctive copper-green colour. The windows extend through both storeys, with window blanks obscuring the first storey floor. The front facade has a distinctive, fluted frieze and an elevated central pediment carrying the company name 'Hoover Limited' and the crest of the company's Royal Warrant. Elsewhere, the external decoration of the building features decorative-coloured faience in in red, green and blue. The centre-piece of the front elevation is the entrance, with doors sent beneath a concrete lintel entablature. Above, the full height window has distinctive glazing in a dramatic, geometric sunburst pattern. The towers on each side of the building are taller than the main body of the building. There are slender, full height windows extend on the exterior-facing elevations, with distinctive arched, corner windows on the stairwell landings. To the east of the main office building is Building No 3, an eastern range with a four bay frontage. This was originally two storeys but later extended to four storeys. The outer bays have projecting windows, not unlike the 'V'-shape of the prow of a ship. By the beginning of 1934 plans were in place to extend the main office building upwards with an additional storey (as shown above), stepped back from the main facade. Building No 7, to the west of the main building, was built in 1938 as the factory canteen building. By the early 1980s production at the Western Avenue site was switched to another Hoover site in Scotland. The building fell into disrepair, the neglect typified the problem of finding sustainable uses for large, redundant buildings of architectural significance. The concrete construction of the building also gave cause for concern. Damage to the concrete can let moisture in, which can rust the reinforcing steel bars which expand and fracture the concrete; so called 'concrete cancer'. In 1989 the supermarket chain Tesco purchased the site. Working in co-operation with English Heritage a compromise between commercial development and heritage retention was achieved. The factory building, building No 5 located behind the main office building, was demolished to make way for the construction of a supermarket. However, the significant structures - the main block, eastern range and canteen block - were preserved and restored. Since the building is no longer owned by the Hoover Company the company name was removed from the front facade, replaced with lettering in the same style spelling out 'The Hoover Building'. The main office building was awarded Grade-II* listed status on 10 October 1980. Additionally, surviving gates and gate piers on the former factory site have also been listed with Grade II status. This is an updated and revised building profile first published on 1 March 2009. Source : Modernist Britain

History of the 'Modern Palace of Industry'

In 1931 Ohio-​​based vacuum cleaner makers the Hoover Company commissioned Wallis, Gilbert and Partners to create a factory on the Western Avenue in Perivale. The London-​​based architectural partnership – initially Wallis, Gilbert & Partner, singular – had been founded in 1916, primarily for the purpose of collaborating with an American company that specialised in providing the reinforcement technology and materials for large concrete factories.

The Art Deco/Moderne* building was constructed using “Snowcrete” which is a white concrete that always will stay looking like new even after the harshest of British weathers and is decorated with bright coloured faience (**glazed ceramic inspired by ancient Egypt). At night the building is illuminated with fluorescent green light - which makes the building highly visible to airline passenger arrivals to nearby Heathrow airport - however, following complaints from the neighbouring houses, the lights are, of necessity, turned off at 10pm every night. (*Modern architectural commentators generally treat the Hoover factory as an art deco design, but Thomas Wallis called his style ‘Fancy’. The building’s ornamentation is said to have been inspired by the art of Central and North American Indians, though there are **Egyptian touches too.) 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".

Main facade and entrance of the Hoover Building

Image courtesy and © of modernism-in-metroland.co.uk

Its principle building is a two storey low-lying white structure with its front divided into 15 bays by massive Egyptian pillars with ornate designs on the tops and bottoms. Its outstanding central doorway has over the door is a huge sunray like design with touches of red, blue, green and golden arrow quills with matching gates of ornate metalwork. The towers at either end have curved corner windows and sunbursts and arrow quill features. To the left of the factory is what was the canteen, its style reminiscent of a streamlined Odeon cinema. Interior features include a green marble tiled factory washroom and toilets, magnificent art deco stairways and floor to ceiling sunburst windows.

The partnership was commissioned to work on several monumental projects, including Victoria coach station and factories for Wrigley’s chewing gum in Wembley, the Gramophone Company in Hayes, Firestone tyres, Pyrene fire extinguishers, The General Electric factory and Coty cosmetics, all on the Great West Road, and the Daimler Hire Garage on Herbrand Street in London.

The Hoover Building, built for Hoover, the manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, was erected between 1931 and 1935 (Building 1 in 1932 and further buildings added in 1934 / 35 & 38) and was the office and factory for the Hoover company for many years up to the late 1980s.

The Perivale site was chosen for the location of Hoover’s Head Office because of its proximity to the Western Avenue (A40), the Great Western railway and the accessibility of the docks from distribution of its product, namely vacuum cleaners. The Hoover Factory housed 600 employees in the company's main manufacturing plant in the UK; it was gradually enlarged from one building in 1932 to seven buildings in 1938. Building Number 7 served an important function as the factory canteen and is one of the most artistically beautiful buildings I have ever seen - so much so that I bought the Chisel & Mouse model as my second purchase. 

By 1939, however, Britain was headed for the Second World War and the need to clean floors took second place to the war effort, so the factory switched production from vacuum cleaners to electrical components for aircraft and tanks, with employees working in shifts to keep it operating 24 hours a day. All this made the site a prime target for bombing by German aircraft, so the building was repainted and covered with netting to camouflage it. A lookout post was installed on the roof to keep an eye out for the Luftwaffe, and it was reportedly manned by Hoover sales staff who were too old for active service.

The Hoover Company also set up an evacuation scheme for the children of staff at the site, who were sent to Canada to live with company employees and their families. After the war, which the building survived, another extension was added - a five-storey building to the north of the site.

Chisel & Mouse Hoover Canteen Model

Alternative view of the Chisel and Mouse sculpture

Chisel and Mouse Hoover Canteen sculpture

Hoover Canteen Building

The original canteen - image courtesy and © of modernism-in-metroland.co.uk

Hoover's products were shipped all across the world, however, so many other companies copied the Hoover brand, improved on the design and production costs, that the demand for Hoover's products diminished and contributed to the demise of the factory. The building was used by Hoover as their main UK Headquarters until the 1980’s when it was listed as a Grade I building. This took place shortly after the similarly Deco Firestone building (on the A4) was unexpectedly demolished in 1980, when it had been days away from achieving the listed status. However, by then the concrete structure had deteriorated badly due to vandalism, weather and general neglect after years of disuse.

The Hoover building was eventually bought by Tesco Supermarkets in 1989 for conversion to a superstore. The site was obtained for £12 million; without planning permission, which was a gamble that Tesco had to take for such a unique site with such great national and architectural importance. In 1992, the office block façade and canteen were beautifully restored and much of the original detailing, such as the wrought iron gates and fencing have been preserved. From the front, the only obvious difference to the structure from its original state is the lettering on the front, which has changed from "Hoover Limited" to "Hoover Building".

Now the main building is to be converted to living space -" IDM properties is about to embark on its most iconic renovation to date as it transforms the architecturally celebrated, Grade II* listed Hoover Building in Perivale, West London. This incredibly designed, Art Deco, former factory was built inthe 1920's for The Hoover Company and is now in the process of a careful renovation to transform its interiors into 66 luxury 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. IDM's contemporary style will be adopted to bring the apartments to life with modern features and quality interiors. We plan on salvaging and reusing as many original Art Deco features as possible throughout the building in order to retain the full glory of this stunning architectural treasure. Located just off the A40, the Hoover Building is situated in the borough of Ealing and close to Wembley and Brentford. This North West London postcode is still relatively undiscovered and yet to fully maximise its real estate potential, leaving the opportunity for growth in this investment very promising."

Hoover Canteen given the modernist treatment

Image and narrative courtesy and © of Modernist Britain

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. Source : Modernist Britain

Historic Allure - Hoover Building to be converted into living space

Hoover Building newspaper articleHoover Building conversion newspaper article

Source : Daily Mail


Iconic buildings are being transformed into intriguing homes, says Christopher Middleton

Daily Mail 4th November 2016

Hoover Building interiorNO MATTER how many times you drive past the Hoover Building, on the a40 in West London, you just can’t help marvelling at the size and colours of this magnificent structure. Originally, the red-white-and-blue edifice, with its huge sweep of lawn at the front, looked like the home of a pharaoh. Today, it is no longer the capital of suction, but a Tesco supermarket (since 1989). the building was designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, the same architects who came up with the layouts for the Firestone factory in Brentford and General electric in Birmingham, as well as London Victoria Coach Station. It goes to show how, with some clever re-jigging, you can transform an historic building. one minute, it’s a factory, the next it’s selling bacon, the next it’s made up of comfortable and spacious flats. However, Tesco will remain in the building, too.

Here’s what the poet Sir John Betjeman wrote about the art Deco supermarket: ‘there are even art Deco features in the trolley park. It’s a sort of art Deco Wentworth Woodhouse, with whizzing window curves, derived from Erich Mendelssohn, with splashes of colour from the Aztec and Mayan days.’ Now, IDM Properties (idmproperties.com) is converting the Grade II*- listed Hoover Building into 66 one to three-bedroom apartments, due to be finished in march 2017. THE company has promised to salvage as many art Deco details as possible in the process. Prices are expected to be from £275,000.

Hoover Building Entrance

As if untouched by time, the main entrance hall into the Hoover Building from the entrance on the A40 - image courtesy and © of idmproperties.com

Hoover Building Reception Area

A reception area on the first floor of the main building at the rear overlooking the 4esco car park - image courtesy and © of idmproperties.com

Hoover Building Bannister

Beautiful and untouched a detail of the bannisters on the stairwell in the Hoover Building - image courtesy and © of idmproperties.com

Hoover Front Face from A40

Cars speeding in front of the restored Hoover Building facade on the A40 - image courtesy and © of idmproperties.com

Aerial  view of the Hoover Building

It wouldn't be the same without a Poirot episode seal of approval

The Dream

Hoover factiry appearing a Farleys

Clever imagery restores the original towers, changes the name to Farleys Foods and the dream becomes a reality!


Back to Top

Manchester History Net have a fantastic dedicated webpage to the Hoover Building in Perivale.

The following sources were also used to compile the information on this page - idm_properties, idm properties restoration project .pdf perivale.co.uk, hidden-london, guidewalksinlondon, timeout.com, getwestlondon.co.uk, manchesterhistory.net

Page refreshed : 16th April 2018