The hotel, situated at the corner of Terminus Terrace and Canute Road and designed by John Norton in a French Renaissance style, was opened in 1865 as the Imperial Hotel. Acquired in 1871 by the London and South Western Railway Company, it was renamed the South Western Hotel. The original building was a six-storey structure in red brick, but in the 1920s a large eight-storey addition in ashlar stone was built on the station side.
Known as 'The Ritz of Southampton', it served the prestigious liner trade which boomed during the 1920s and 1930s. The hotel closed in 1939 and became HMS Shrapnel, a military intelligence establishment. After the war it became known as South Western House and was the local base, first of Cunard, and later of the BBC. In 1997-99 it was converted by Berkley Homes into flats and renamed Imperial House, although the front elevation has remained intact. It is Grade II listed.

South Western Hotel

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Photograph, c.1910

South Western Hotel

Image Unavailable

Coloured postcard, c.1905

South Western Hotel

Image Unavailable

Photograph, c.2005


Further reading:
Buildings of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p581-553-554. (H/i)
Southampton’s Historic Buildings, by R. J. Coles, p30. (HS/k)
‘BBC TV South Packs its Bags at the Grand Hotel’, in Hampshire, vol. 31. no. 11, p50-52. (H/y)


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