History

Opened in 1903, the buildings original name, Rowton house was taken from its founder, a philanthropist called Lord Rowton who in the late 1800s built a series of buildings in England that provided large numbers of migrant workers with decent living conditions. The guests were predominantly Irish Labourers who were rejected from traditional lodgings and were otherwise forced to stay in squalid conditions. Rowton House originally had lodgings for more than 800 men, all housed in individual wooden panelled cubicles (for an indication of size, The Paragon Hotel currently has 250 en-suite bedrooms). The ground floor housed an enormous dining room feeding vast numbers of men and there were amenities such as shops, a barber and a tailor on site. George Orwell, in Down & Out In Paris and London, wrote about lodging houses: "The best are the Rowton Houses, where the charge is a shilling, for which you get a cubicle to yourself, and the use of excellent bathrooms…The Rowton Houses are splendid buildings, and the only objection to them is the strict discipline.”

Rowton House thrived in this form until the 1960s when it fell into a state of disrepair. In 1993 the building was purchased by hoteliers and has changed hands and name several times since then. The Paragon today has a grade 2 listing to protect its impressive Gothic Edwardian architecture. The building’s longevity comes from its engineered brick structure – the ‘tiles’ that can be seen around the inside of the building are the same red bricks as on the external walls but with glazed faces – they cover the entire ground floor but have been hidden over the years. With each year we are restoring another part of the old building with the dream to one day make The Paragon hotel a stunning destination hotel.