Why Is There A Swiss Cottage At Swiss Cottage?

By Laura Reynolds Last edited 16 months ago
Why Is There A Swiss Cottage At Swiss Cottage?
© Copyright Oxfordian Kissuth and licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Licence.

You've probably never paid much attention to Swiss Cottage unless you live round those parts, let alone thought about why the area's named after a foreign piece of architecture. But yes, there is indeed an actual Swiss cottage at Swiss Cottage.

Between Swiss Cottage station and the brick monstrosity that is the Odeon IMAX sits the Swiss cottage. It's a chalet-style building, painted the colour of French mustard, with wooden pillars and balconies. Shutters surround the windows and hanging baskets complete the alpine look.

It functions as a pub, Ye Olde Swiss Cottage, and sits on something of a traffic island — Finchley Road and Avenue Road converge just a few metres north of the pub's land, with multiple lanes of traffic heading in each direction. There's a beer garden outside for those who like their ale with a side of traffic fumes. But why's the cottage there in the first place?

A Swiss chalet was originally built on the site in 1840, known as the Swiss Tavern and functioning as a coaching inn when the area (to the north east of Primrose Hill) was in the countryside. Back then, there was a trend for building this style of cottage throughout the UK — anyone who's been to the Isle of Wight has probably seen Queen Victoria's very own Swiss Cottage.

You can actually get this stuff at Ye Olde Swiss Cottage

Construction of Finchley Road and Avenue Road was authorised in 1926 as part of plans to redevelop the area, and they were built around the existing Swiss Tavern. The Odeon was opened in 1938, joining the Tavern on its traffic island, along with blocks of flats which are still standing today. At some point in the intervening years, the name changed from the Swiss Tavern to Ye Olde Swiss Cottage.

There's been a tube station at Swiss Cottage since 1868. The new station, which today serves the Jubilee line between Finchley Road and St John's Wood, opened in 1939.

In the 1960s, the Swiss Cottage building was redeveloped and extended as part of a local road widening scheme — a far cry from its roots in the fields surrounding London, but maintaining its alpine charm. As its a Sam Smith boozer, you can even get Alpine Lager here.

Ye Olde Swiss Cottage can be found at 98 Finchley Road, NW3 5EL.

Last Updated 10 May 2016

Linda Laird

So this isn't the Swiss Cottage that Dickens used as a writing studio? Does that one still stand?