Darwin & Wallace are bringing a new lease of life to Chiswick High Road with No 197 Chiswick Fire Station, a bar that aims to be more home than high street

When Mel Marriott, Darwin & Wallace’s Managing Director, first saw the inside of Chiswick Fire Station she felt passionate about it from the get-go. Although the historic building had previously been an All Bar One and presented itself as ready for a successful bar, she immediately saw the potential for something a bit different and community centric for Chiswick.

The result? No 197 Chiswick Fire Station – a destination bar that pays homage to the history and community at the centre of the building, and a bar that aims to feel like a home to the locals. 

It is a bar that aims to feel like a home to the locals

The fire station is steeped in history, and a history that has served Chiswick for years. Opening on the High Road in 1891, it became known as one of the most equipped near London at the time. Chiswick will be the fourth site for Darwin & Wallace, and they are keen to draw upon the way in which this eponymous site roots people in their local community.

‘We approach West London predominantly with our establishments and Chiswick was somewhere that we had always wanted to go,’ says Marriott. ‘There are a lot of restaurants, casual dining and a lot of pubs but what we want to offer is unique. We are predominantly a bar, and one that sells good food too, but one that you visit when you know you want to nip out for a nice drink!’

She goes on to tell me how Darwin & Wallace recognise that our socialising patterns have changed, and people work in nice spaces and socialise in different hours of the day – something that they want to play into for the Chiswick residents. ‘We are going to be open from nine until late at night, and offer food for the whole of this window.’

One of the most personal elements of this new offering is the way in which the Fire Station will offer a curated environment that will change depending on the mood and tone of the people within the premises at any given time. ‘We will have a DJ on a Friday and Saturday from about 9pm which, rather than a lively dance environment, will approach the music by the atmosphere around them. It’s a more personal and thoughtful touch,’ explains Marriott.

They’ve re-imagined the space entirely

They’ve re-imagined the space entirely too, and focused on the community aspect of integrity and openness. ‘There was a little courtyard space at the back that was underused and just posed as a smoking solution, and the building previously cut off two thirds of the way down so we created an open kitchen for a sense of honesty and theatre, but it also means that when you walk in you can see from front to back and your eye is drawn to the courtyard,’ says Marriott.

‘It’s a really beautiful, light and airy space.’ They’ve also created a central bar, drawing people together and creating a sense of openness but intimacy too. What’s important is that it seems like a space where people can make themselves at home.

It’s clear that detail is imperative to Marriott, with the building walls decorated by original artwork handpicked in partnership with The Hang Up Gallery in Stoke Newington. In this detail, it was important for the building and the space to pay homage to what was there before. When designing the bar, they took the time to look at old images of the fire station as it was and noticed the space was split by little stable blocks.

‘We’ve interpreted it into the seating design, to allude to this and add a motif from the past,’ explains Marriott. With history seeping through the details in No 197 Chiswick Fire Station, there’s something warm and inviting about this new venture for Darwin & Wallace. So, if you ever needed an excuse to make your way to the bar… Well, here it is!

197 Chiswick High Road W4 2DR; 020 3857 4669; no197chiswickfirestation.com

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