On the corner with Theobald's Road (part of the A401) is the complex that formerly housed Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and the Cochrane Theatre. There are several major hotels on Southampton Row, including the Bedford, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London - West End, and Holborn hotels.
The street was named after Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton. It was previously known as Kingsgate Street.
The first studio of the sculptor Robert William Sievier (1794–1865) was in Southampton Row until 1837.
The Central School of Art and Design, formerly the Central School of Arts and Crafts, was established by the London County Council in 1896 in Southampton Row to provide specialist art teaching for workers in the craft industries. The architect William Lethaby (1857–1931) was the first Principal, as recorded by a blue plaque on Southampton Row.
Sir John Barbirolli, the conductor and cellist, was born in Southampton Row on 2 December 1899. A commemorative blue plaque was placed on the wall of the Bloomsbury Park Hotel in May 1993 to mark his birthplace.
In 1907 the Institute of Education moved to its first purpose-built building on Southampton Row. In 1938, the Institute moved to the Senate House complex of the University of London on Malet Street, not far away to the northwest.
On 12 September 1933, the Hungarian physicist Leó Szilárd, an exile from Nazi Germany, was crossing Southampton Row at the junction with Russell Square when he had an insight that changed the course of history. He realised that splitting an atom with a neutron could produce further neutrons which themselves could also split atoms, leading to a chain reaction and a massive release of energy. This led directly to the development of the atomic bomb and nuclear energy.
The Sue Ryder Care charity, established in 1953, is registered at 114–118 Southampton Row. Also in 1953, John Cass opened a bookshop on Southampton Row, where he began publishing books and journals which were acquired by Taylor & Francis in 2003.
- Aldrich (2002). The Institute of Education 1902–2002. p. 35.
- Aldrich (2002). The Institute of Education 1902–2002. p. 110.
- Bronowski, Jacob (1973). The Ascent of Man. BBC Books. p. 369. ISBN 1849901155.
- Holmes, Colin (2009). "Frank Cass (1930–2007)". Immigrants and Minorities. 27 (1): 118–122. doi:10.1080/02619280902895686.