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ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Rowton's Arlington House
The last of the Rowton Hostels for men in London to be built.
Location: 1 Early Mews, Camden Town
Description: Arlington House is a hostel for homeless men which opened in 1905. It is the last and largest of the Rowton Houses to be built and is the only one to remain in use as originally intended - as a hostel.
George Orwell lived in one of the Rowton Houses and wrote about the experience in Down and Out in Paris and London, his semi-autobiographical account of living in poverty in both cities:
The best [lodging houses] are the Rowton Houses, where the charge is a shilling, for which you get a cubicle to yourself, and the use of excellent bathrooms. You can also pay half a crown for a special, which is practically hotel accommodation. The Rowton Houses are splendid buildings, and the only objection to them is the strict discipline, with rules against cooking, card playing, etc.
The great Victorian philanthropist Lord Rowton built a series of these hotels to provide clean and decent accommodation for working men, who in that era were often forced to stay in filthy and disease-ridden common lodging houses. They were a great success, and enjoyed a reputation for providing the cleanest and best value accommodation in London.
The line Arlington House - address, no fixed abode is the first line of the 1984 top 20 song One Better Day about homeless people by hugely successful Suggs-led local ska/pop group Madness.