‘Cowley Street’ may not be ‘Cowley Street’ for long

Liberal Democrats HQ, Cowley Street
Photo credit: Loz Flowers on Flickr.

The Liberal Democrats are looking for new headquarters in Westminster, and plan to vacate their current offices at 4 Cowley Street.

From Property Week:

4 Cowley Street is a Grade II listed building which was originally constructed in 1905 as the London headquarters of the North Eastern Railway Company and provides just over 7,000 sq ft of offices.

A similar amount of space is being sought on a single floor and several properties have already been inspected with a final decision likely to be made soon.

By the way, if you’re looking for office space in a delightful dolls-house of a building, 4 Cowley Street boasts the following amenities:

  • Comfort cooling
  • Passenger lift
  • Underfloor trunking
  • Period features
  • Entryphone
  • Kitchen facilities
  • Excellent natural light
  • [Glinsman Weller Property Consultants]

    Yours to rent for around £225,000 per annum.

    Read more by or more about .
    This entry was posted in Party policy and internal matters.


    • Perhaps we could have Bodie St for the OB Tendency and Doyle St for the Social Liberals.

    • I feel sad about this… and it’s another thing that will make me sound old, like referring to Marathon bars or Midland Bank.

    • Any specific reasons given?

    • Grammar Police 13th Jan '11 - 10:16am

      I would imagine it’s to raise some cash after losing short money.

    • Depressed Ex Lib Dem 13th Jan '11 - 10:19am

      Moving to 30 Millbank, perhaps?

    • Laurie Eggleston 13th Jan '11 - 11:00am

      Being on a single floor makes sense, as hopefully the party can be more joined-up in its strategy. As lovely a building as Cowley St is, there are some departments that must feel hidden away and forgotten about.

    • Depressed Ex Lib Dem 13th Jan '11 - 12:34pm

      No but seriously, I hope people will be scrutinising this move extremely carefully to make sure it doesn’t involve any change in the legal status of the party’s biggest asset.

    • toryboysnevergrowup 13th Jan '11 - 12:34pm

      What on earth is comfort cooling – a euphemism for enviromentally unfriendly air conditioning or windows that open. I would have thought that the natural light was the same as everyone else’s in Westminster.

      Good to see the LibDems estate agents are just like all the others!

    • I remember when everything was on one floor in the National Liberal Club – or I think it was. Must get down to reading Hugh Jones’ book about that period.

    • I remember too when the Publications Department, whose head was Evelyn Hill, was in a Rowntree building in Poland Street. That’s now a cafe.

    • breakingthemould 13th Jan '11 - 1:11pm

      …symbolic end of an era as this was the SDP base when the Party was launched to take on the Tories after Labour imploded…now we’ve joined them, enough said!

    • Ed Maxfield 13th Jan '11 - 1:38pm

      The building is cramped, dingy and difficult for anyone with a mobility impairment. It is also probably about 40% wall and corridor so moving to a modern open plan space will be cheaper (because less space will be wasted) as well as more practical.

      It would be wise for the party to think about moving all but the Westminster essential functions out of London altogether but I dont suppose it will…

    • Depressed Ex Lib Dem 13th Jan '11 - 3:52pm


      That’s strange. I could have sworn there was discussion of the possibility of mortgaging/re-mortgaging Cowley Street at the time of the Michael Brown fiasco.

    • Matt Downey 13th Jan '11 - 7:56pm

      I have only been a member since Summer 2010, I may be 14, I may have never been there, but this makes me feel quite sad actually.

    • Sandy Walkington 14th Jan '11 - 8:00am

      As someone who worked there virtually 24/7 during the 2005 general election, Cowley St clearly had practical problems because of the rabbit warren of different floors, stairs and rooms. But it is a very nice place to work, with windows that open, lots of natural light, a back garden where Charles K could smoke. I would be interested to know the sick rates compared with sealed artificially lit air conditioned offices, it will be a challenge finding somewhere in Westminster which is as nice.

      PS Some of us are old enough to remember 7 Exchange Court in a dark alley off The Strand – and then the Gormenghast of the top floor of the National Liberal Club…

    • Andrew Purches 14th Jan '11 - 9:57am

      A sensible and practical move from a purely administrative point of view: I am sure Cowley Street must be a nightmare electronically! I share Ed Maxfield’s hope that the Party might move its offices out of Central London altogether, somewhere in lower Middle England,it being its heartland. Mansfield perhaps? Office space there might be as little as 5 bob a square foot: and a bung to move there may be forthcoming,and it could be seen as a politically symbolic move, with an expanded localism agenda on hand.

    • Shaun Roberts 14th Jan '11 - 11:49am

      As several people have said, Cowley Street just isn’t suitable for the party any more. Very little meeting space, no communal areas and mainly a warren of smaller offices that aren’t what’s needed today.

      It may only be a small building, but the way it’s built means you could go years without seeing the person working on the floor below you.

      Will still be sad to go – so much history an character in the place, but suspect, wherever it ends up, that the Cowley street tag will stick.

    • supersugardaddy 12th May '11 - 11:36pm

      What a shame. Are we going to give up everything we believe in and value? And why is no-one addressing the elephant (‘scuse the pun?) in the room in terms of a monetary saving. Sure some people will know who I mean…

    • James Blanchard 13th May '11 - 1:36pm

      Worked there 2002-5, so am of course sad to see it going, but it really isn’t the most practical of buildings by a very long chalk.

      Something more modern will definitely help get more out of our staff, and we absolutely should be looking to move non-Westminster functions out of the south-east. What would be wrong with moving some people to the already established ALDC office in Hebden Bridge?

    • Peter Chegwyn 13th May '11 - 4:24pm

      “What would be wrong with moving some people to the already established ALDC office in Hebden Bridge?”

      The staff would have to be super-fit… walking up the Cowley Street stairs when the lift breaks down is nothing compared to walking up that damn hill from Hebden Bridge railway station to The Birchcliffe Centre!

      Small wonder Tony Greaves used to climb mountains for relaxation on his time off from working for the ALC.

    • Pfft. Anyone from Bradforddale can handle Hebden Bridge easy. Soft, the lot o yeh 😉

    • All you newcomers !! I remember Nos 54 and 58 Victoria Street ! There was real security those days !! When I was, around 1954-56, chair of U.U.L.S. (Union of University Liberal Societies) I’d arrive at Euston about 5 am, walk to Victoria Street and climb in through a basement window to the UULS office !! W.R. Davies was the Secretary and HFP Harris joined as Director General (scandalised the rest of the party by receiving and annual salary of £3,000 ).
      There was a time when we were in very expensive premises in Smith Square. There must be others with even longer memories than I have !!

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