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Gower Street, London

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Title: Gower Street, London  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: UCL Arts and Sciences, University College London, Computer Arts Society, UCL Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Cleveland Street Workhouse
Collection: Bloomsbury, Streets in Camden, University College London
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Gower Street, London

Gower Street
UCL entrance
Map of Gower Street

Gower Street is a street in Bloomsbury, central London, running from Montague Place in the south to Euston Road at the north. The street continues as North Gower Street north of the Euston Road. To the south it becomes Bloomsbury Street.

University College London (UCL) and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art are located along Gower Street as is part of University College Hospital. UCL maintains two student residences along the street: the Arthur Tattersall and John Tovell Houses. Of the many UCL buildings along Gower Street, the Cruciform Building is especially notable, both for its striking red exterior and its obvious form, even when viewed from the road. Old boys of University College School are known as "Old Gowers" after the street where it founded and co-located with UCL.

Euston Square tube station is located at the north end of Gower Street, at the corner of Euston Road.


Notable residents of Gower Street have included the architect [1] and the Shaws. John Shaw, Sr.,and John Shaw, Jr., formed a famous nineteenth-century architectural partnership. Thomas Budd Shaw was a professor of English literature to the grand dukes of Russia. The painter John Everett Millais had a studio here.This was also the birthplace and childhood home of the artist Philip Zec and his eleven other siblings, although that was when it was still called George Street.

In March 1837, Giovanni Ruffini, his brother Agostino Ruffini and Angelo Usiglio, living there for three years until 1840.

On 29 December 1838, Charles Darwin took the let of the furnished property at 12 Upper Gower Street (later 110 Gower Street), and wrote to tell his fiancée Emma Wedgwood of his delight at being the "possessor of Macaw Cottage".[2] As their daughter Etty later recalled, "He used to laugh over the ugliness of their house in Gower St, and the furniture in the drawing-room, which he said combined all the colours of the macaw in hideous discord",[3] and Darwin had christened the house "Macaw Cottage" in "allusion to the gaudy colours of the walls and furniture."[4] He moved in on 31 December, and with Emma moved in on the day of their marriage, 29 January 1839. The development of Darwin's theory of natural selection made progress in this house, and their children William Erasmus Darwin and Anne Darwin were born there. In 1842 the family moved to Down House in the countryside, and the Gower Street house became part of the warehouse system of Messrs Schoolbred. On 13 December 1904 a London County Council blue plaque was put up, to "Charles Darwin Naturalist". The house suffered from bomb damage in 1941 during the Blitz, and was not repaired. In 1961 the site became part of the Biological Sciences building of University College London, with a new plaque. The long thin garden which backed on to Gower Mews North (later Malet Place) was incorporated into Foster Court car park in 1978.[5]

The etymologist and philologist Hensleigh Wedgwood, who was Charles Darwin's cousin and brother-in-law, lived at 94 Gower Street; he died there in 1891.[6]

On the wall of the University College building, an elaborate wall plaque carries the legend: "Close to this place Richard Trevithick (Born 1771 - Died 1833) Pioneer of High Pressure Steam ran in the year 1808 the first steam locomotive to draw passengers." It was erected by "The Trevithick Centenary Memorial Committee".[7]

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in the Millais family house on Gower Street in the winter of 1848–49.

The Walloon (Belgian) poet Henri Michaux briefly resided in Gower Street in February 1931.

From 1976 until 1995 the headquarters of MI5 were an anonymous grey office block at 140 Gower Street, adjacent to the Euston Road.[8][9] The site has since been redeveloped.

The BBC crime drama Sherlock has used 187 North Gower Street, posing as 221B Baker Street, for many external shots of Sherlock Holmes's flat.


  1. ^ Crawford, Alan (2004) 'Morgan, William Frend De (1839-1917)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press [1], Retrieved on 20 April 2008.
  2. ^ "Letter 463 — Darwin, C. R. to Wedgwood, Emma (Darwin, Emma), (29 Dec 1838)". Darwin Correspondence Project. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  3. ^ Litchfield, H. E. [Recollection of Darwin on Macaw cottage]. CUL-DAR112.B99
  4. ^ Litchfield 1915, p. 18
  5. ^ Freeman 2007, p. 280
  6. ^ Herford, C. H.; rev. John D. Haigh (2004). "Wedgwood, Hensleigh (1803–1891)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  7. ^ Plaques of London: Richard Trevithick
  8. ^ Terry Kirby, MI5 edges out of the shadows, The Independent, 17 July 1993
  9. ^ John O'Connell, London's espionage locations revealed, Time Out, 17 July 1993
  • Freeman, R. B. (2007), The Works of Charles Darwin: An Annotated Bibliographical Handlist, 2d online edition,  

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