Sanderson's Set to Make Historic Return Home to Chiswick

Wallpaper company is moving back into Voysey House

Voysey House with the Lamb pub in the foreground
Voysey House with the Lamb pub in the foreground

An iconic Chiswick brand is about to return home after an absence of nearly a hundred years.

Arthur Sanderson established a wallpaper factory at a former barracks in what is now Barley Mow Passage in 1879 and it became one of Chiswick’s largest companies reaching a peak of over 1,000 employees.

What was Arthur Sanderson and Sons is now the Sanderson Design Group PLC , a luxury interior design and furnishings group listing on AIM. It has informed the exchange that it will be moving its head office back to Voysey House later this year. Around 80 staff employed in design sales, marketing, finance and administrative functions along with the Sanderson and Morris & Co. archives, will be relocating. The fit-out of the building to the company’s specification is currently underway and it is envisaged that it will include showroom space, a design hub and events location.

Manufacturing will not take place in Chiswick but when production was based here, many of the papers were printed by hand with wooden blocks but roller machine production also was utilised with eight of these machines operating by the end of the nineteenth century.

63 employees of Sanderson, including Herbert the son of Arthur Sanderson, signed up to fight in the First World War and in 1924 Sanderson received a Royal Warrant as a wallpaper supplier to King George V.

There was a lively social life around the factory and Sanderson employees took part in an extensive programme of activities outside working hours. The company’s social club was called ‘Bleak House’ and its premises were close by on Chiswick High Road, 100 yards from the factory. Bleak House Lane still links Chiswick High Road with Barley Mow Passage. The club was equipped with a bowling green, billiard rooms, reading rooms and a dining room where meals were provided to staff at cost price. The club organised social events such as swimming galas and flower shows and one of these fetes is believed to be the inspiration for a scene in The Grand Meaulnes, a novel by French author Alain-Fournier who had worked at the factory as a translator in 1905.

In 1928 a fire gutted the premises, in what has been described as the largest ever fire in Chiswick, and it continued to smoulder for over a week. The company relocated to Perivale, but it retained a connection with the area with its Chiswick Grove range.

Voysey House was built as an extension to the factory in 1902 with a footbridge linking the two buildings across Barley Mow Passage and was recently sympathetically restored to its original state.

A painting of Voysey House shortly after construction published with planning documentation
A painting of Voysey House shortly after construction published with planning documentation for the refurbishment

Sam Harrison converted part of the former factory site across Barley Mow Passage into Sam’s Brasserie two decades ago, but the premises now lies empty after the failure of a number of successor restaurants.

Lisa Montague, Sanderson Design Group's Chief Executive Officer, said, "This opportunity to move our head office to London will bring important strategic benefits for the Group whilst being cost neutral. At the same time, it is a privilege to be returning the Sanderson brand to Voysey House, a former Sanderson wallpaper factory and the brand's original home.

"Locating the Group in London will support the sales and marketing of Group brands, better showcase the Sanderson and Morris & Co. archives and assist in attracting and retaining talent. We are planning to create an exciting showroom, design hub and events space, which will also reduce our requirement for external showroom space.

"Voysey House is a building of huge historical relevance to Sanderson Design Group. We look forward to moving into the building in the summer this year and to marking the start of an exciting new chapter in the Group's development."

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March 19, 2024