Trevor Abrahmsohn: How London’s Bishops Avenue Became ‘Billionaires Row’

The Bishops Avenue, aptly nicknamed ‘billionaire’s row’, is probably one of the best-known, cherished, residential avenues in the world and ranks along side Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, Worth Avenue and Wall Street in the USA.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t choose to live in one of the mega-mansions on this illustrious road, but a new development of luxury apartments named Buxmead caught my eye since it ticks all the boxes: the likes of which has ever only been available at the Candy Brother’s One Hyde Park, Knightsbridge.

Abrahmsohn: Billionaires Row developments are on a par with the Candy Brother’s One Hyde Park. Source: Wikimedia

Here’s a quick overview of how Bishop’s Avenue became one of the most expensive streets in the world.

In the late 19th Century, the area was a series of open fields where the Bishops of the day hunted on horseback and this is where the name of the road was derived. By the 20th Century, wealthy ‘captains of industry’ and industrialists had built sizeable properties on large plots in the road for themselves and their families.

A good example is East Weald that was built by the Lyle of Tate & Lyle conglomerate and was then, one of the largest private homes in London, set in five acres of land.

With the oil explosion in the mid seventies and the new found riches enjoyed by the Arabs, Nigerians and Indians, large swathes of the road were developed into sizeable super mansions of no particular architectural merit.

Indian property investors saw luxury London property as a lucrative investment in the 1970’s, a trend that continues to this day

Some of the existing properties, that were quite modest, were re-developed and replaced by others where the volumes were closer to medium hotels than normal residential properties.

Given that London was starting its long journey to be what it is today: the greatest capital city in the world, wealthy international buyers would invariably chose Bishops Avenue since it was not only a safe tax haven, with assured political stability, but to reside there was a clear statement of wealth and status, particularly since the size of the plots and the properties built thereon were some of the largest and most lavish of their type in the world.

The Saudi Arabian Royal Family bought, and held, at least ten properties hurriedly, after the first Gulf War, as a ‘political bolt hole’ should the Royal Family be ousted by Saddam Hussein if he decided to march into Saudi Arabia as well as Kuwait at the time.

These properties were never used and left to decay which certainly did not enhance the streetscape at the time but, thankfully, they have now been bought for re-development.

Saudi’s piled into Billionaires Row after the first Gulf War. Source: Creative Commons

Whilst Bishops Avenue gained notoriety with some of the most colourful residents you could think of, having a series of extremely large mansions occupied intermittently by transient international business people who have many other homes in the world and who stay for short periods, is never good for the local community spirit.

The reason why I am so filled with effusive praise about the Buxmead development is that the facilities can only be described as ‘world class’: a private dining suite, a commercial office suite with video conferencing and board room, as well as a fully equipped 75 foot indoor swimming pool!

The swimming pool at the Buxmead development is as glamorous as you would expect for a street dubbed ‘Billionaires Row’. Source: Glentree

The use of these exclusive facilities in developments such as this means residents do not need to accommodate them within their apartments which, effectively, allows more useable space.

Not only will new developments on Billionaires Row enhance the ‘soul’ of the area but will greatly add to the community spirit and introduce unparalleled levels of luxury that will enhance the already excellent reputation of this cherished address.

So there we have it – The Bishops Avenue – what is there not to like I ask you?