Following our recent article on John Nash (see the earlier post here), we’re taking a look at one of his projects as part of our series on London’s oldest. Built between 1816-18, the Royal Opera Arcade – which features a series of shops running down the side of a covered central hall – is not only the oldest existing shopping arcade of its type in London but apparently in the world.
The 12 foot wide covered arcade was built on the west side of what was previously the Royal, King’s or Haymarket Opera House – Nash and George Repton completed the exterior of the property originally built by Sir John Vanbrugh at the same time the arcade was built – but is now the site of Her Majesty’s Theatre (the former theatre was destroyed in a fire in 1867).
It extends between Pall Mall and Charles II Street in the West End, running parallel with Haymarket. Burlington Arcade, frequently cited as the city’s oldest, was in fact completed a year later.
The arcade originally had 19 shops – each with a cellar and mezzanine level – running down its west side. It now features shops which sell everything from fine wines and art to books and sandwiches.
For more on the Royal Opera Arcade, see www.royaloperaarcade.com.