Principle to manage property on site where Britain’s first bicycle created

A building on an historic site in London’s Covent Garden where inventor Denis Johnson produced Britain’s first bicycle is to be looked after by Principle Estate Management.

What was initially known as the “pedestrian curricle” was created and patented by Johnson in 1819, an improved version of the original bicycle that had emerged in Germany.

Johnson’s version, also known as a “velocipede”, and popularly as a “hobby-horse”, “dandy-horse” and “pedestrian’s accelerator”, featured an elegantly curved wooden frame, and later a dropped-frame version to accommodate ladies’ long skirts.

Fast-forward to the present day and the site on Long Acre, close to the junction with Drury Lane, now hosts a mixed-use building knows as Acre House.

This property has 11 luxury apartments on upper floors, one recently for sale with a price of £3 million, and commercial units on the ground floor that include a hairdressers, a bistro and – yes, you’ve guessed it – a bicycle shop!

The high-profile contract has come from Simarc Property Management Ltd, the expanding management arm of the Wallace Group, which now owns 106,000 leasehold properties.

Simarc has already commissioned Principle to manage multiple developments, including hundreds of other flats in London, the West Midlands and south England, and other plush London apartments.

Acre House is just a three-minute walk from Covent Garden underground station and the old Covent Garden Market.

The property has a concierge service whose current employee Nadezda Sostaka, known as Nadia, is transferring to Principle under TUPE regulations, also known as Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment).

Natalie Chambers, director at Simarc, said: “We are continually reviewing our panel of agents and matching them to the properties in our portfolio, and it seemed appropriate to move this prime property to Principle.

“There are some historical matters requiring separate investigation and we know Principle has the commercial skills to assist with this as well as providing excellent property management for our residents.

“We take our role as long-term custodians of the buildings we own extremely seriously and want to make sure our agents provide outstanding service to our customers. We know Principle can be relied on to deliver that.”

Brett Williams, managing director of Principle, said: “I grew up in Surrey and frequently went to Covent Garden as a teenager, but little did I expect to be looking after properties like this back then.

“It’s fantastic to add high-quality, landmark properties such as Acre House to our portfolio, and the transition from the previous agent to ourselves is well in hand.

“As well as contacting all our new customers and inherited suppliers, it’s important with any developments with site staff that we follow the correct HR processes and also get to know the people as it can be a worrying time.

“Having met the current concierge, I have every confidence she will continue to provide an excellent service to this flagship scheme.”

He added: “We’re thrilled that Simarc is continuing to instruct us on properties as we enjoy working with them. They like property management to be carried out properly and that’s what we’re all about.”