Belfast’s ‘grocery palace’ on Royal Avenue in Belfast. Courtesy of WDR & RT Taggart

We’ve come a long way from the hangar-style retail park supermarkets favoured in the 1990s. Supermarket chains are cottoning on to the allure of historic spaces where customers can admire ornate brickwork as much as a freshly baked baguette.

Here are 10 of Britain’s finest supermarket spaces, where ‘grade’ quality applies to more than just the produce.

1. Waitrose, King’s Cross, London

Supermarket chain Waitrose has taken up residence in the 19th-century Midland Goods Shed in King’s Cross. Architecture firm Bennetts Associates teamed up with B+R Architects to convert the building – part of the Grade II-listed Granary Complex. Waitrose has also set up a cookery school inside the Victorian structure and adjacent East Handyside Canopy building.

Photography: John Sturrock
Photography: John Sturrock

2. Marks & Spencer, Oxford Street, London

Constructed in 1938 by architect Robert Lutyens, Marks & Spencer’s flagship store on Oxford Street was Grade II-listed in 2009. Dubbed The Pantheon, it features a highly-polished black granite facade. ‘It is fitting that we preserve the exterior of this wonderful building… this is not just any listed building, this is an M&S listed building,’ said former architecture minister Barbara Follett (referencing a tagline from one of its Christmas ads).

'The Pantheon' then and now
‘The Pantheon’ then and now

3. Tesco Metro, Royal Avenue, Belfast

Formerly the head office of The Provincial Bank of Ireland, the Italianate style, Grade I-listed building in central Belfast dates from 1896 and was designed by architect JW Barre. While converting it into a palatial Tesco Metro, architects WDR & RT Taggart restored its stone facade, roof and feature lantern.

Courtesy of Taggart
Courtesy of WDR & RT Taggart 

 4. Marks & Spencer, Lister Gate, Nottingham

Created by in-house architects for the Woolworth’s company, M&S’s Lister Gate store was built in 1936 and is one of Nottingham’s finest (and largest) Art Deco buildings. Grade II-listed in 1995, the building features an elaborate and ornamental facade.

5. Lidl at The Department, Ranelagh Street, Liverpool

Lewis’s Department Store Building is a local Liverpool landmark. Its original 1856 structure was largely destroyed during WWII but was rebuilt in 1947 by Gerald de Courcy Fraser in a stripped Classical style, with statues and reliefs by Sir Jacob Epstein. Just three years after being granted Grade II-listed status in 2010, it closed as a department store.  Lidl are set to move in shortly, according to a report from the Mayor of Liverpool.

Lewis's Department store is now know as The Department, part of the Central Village scheme. Courtesy of Merepark
Lewis’s Department store is now know as The Department, part of the Central Village scheme. Courtesy of Merepark

6. Tesco’s at the Hoover Building, Perivale, London

Designed by Art Deco supremos, Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, the Hoover Building was built for The Hoover Company in 1933. In 1989, Tesco purchased the Grade-II* listed building and, in addition to restoring the original Aztec-style facade, it built a supermarket to the rear of the site in the early 1990s.

Photography: Ewan Munro

7. Little Waitrose in the Corn Exchange, King Street, Ipswich

Waitrose are another chain firmly aboard the adaptive reuse bandwagon. They opened a mini-supermarket in the ground floor of the Ipswich Corn Exchange in 2012. The building is an impressive example of High Victorian architecture, designed by Brightwen Binyon in 1878 and in use as a Corn Market until 1972. As well as Waitrose, it houses a theatre and an events space among others, and adjoins the Town Hall.

Courtesy of Music Tour
Ipswich Corn Exchange (right) now houses a little Waitrose on its ground floor level. Photography courtesy of Music Tour

8. Morrison’s M, Smith Street, Rochdale

This building has played many roles through the centuries. Originally a wool merchant’s residence built around 1750, it became the Duke of Wellington Hotel in 1810 and was a leading coach house in Rochdale for many years. More recently, it was a nightclub before Morrison’s turned it into a local ‘M’ mart.

9. Lidl at the Herman Miller Factory, Lower Bristol Road, Bath

Designed by Nicholas Grimshaw of Farrell & Grimshaw Architects, the single-storey Herman Miller Factory was built in 1976 as a manufacturing facility for the American office furniture production company. The RIBA award-winning building was listed in 2013, but was vacant for nearly a decade before Lidl opened a supermarket on the site in April of this year. The building’s Meccano-like facade and ‘space frame ceiling’ have been fully restored.

Courtesy of the 20th Century Society
The Herman Miller Factory, pictured circa 1976. Courtesy of the 20th Century Society

10. Tesco Express, Kew Road, London

The supermarket giant opted for a light touch when converting the Matthaie’s Cafe and Bakery building into its 1,500th Tesco Express. The building was originally constructed as late 19th century terraced housing, but remodelled extensively in the late 1930s in the Art Deco style. Tesco adopted special branding for the building’s facade in keeping with the white Vitrolite fascia’s ‘sunburst’ fan design. Every little helps…

Photography: Hannah Thompson


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