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GBR, London - Roundhouse

Location info

Type: Club
Location: United Kingdom, London
Chalk Farm Road

Contacts: 0844 482 8008

Camden's legendary Roundhouse has continually pushed boundaries in music and performance.

Today the Roundhouse is a space dedicated to nurturing creative young talent, as well as presenting an eclectic line up of the best in Live Music, Theatre, Dance and Circus.

The Roundhouse was built in 1847 as a turntable engine shed (or roundhouse) for the London and Birmingham Railway at Chalk Farm (near Camden Town), in London. The architect was Robert B Dockray and the builder was Branson & Gwyther. Steam locomotives of the time could not run safely in reverse, as their tenders obscured the drivers' view, and the turntable allowed engines to be turned round to point in the forward direction. The design also allowed engines to be kept under cover in a number of radial sidings within the shed.

Within 20 years locomotives became too large for the facilities to handle, and the Roundhouse underwent a number of changes of use. For years it was a gin store for the firm of W & A Gilbey Ltd until it was converted to a theatre in the late 1960s.

The Roundhouse became a well-known arts venue, starting in 1966 when the freehold was taken up by the new Greater London Council. On 15 October 1966 the Roundhouse hosted an event that featured Soft Machine and Pink Floyd to launch the underground paper International Times. At the time, the Roundhouse had stood unused since before World War II. By 1966, it was grimy, derelict, and (certainly in October at the time of the IT launch gig) very cold.

In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, the Roundhouse became an important venue for UK Underground and music events under the banners of Middle Earth and Implosion, mainly hosted and arranged by the DJ Jeff Dexter. The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Sinceros, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Incredible String Band, The Doors with Jefferson Airplane, Elkie Brooks and Motörhead played at the Roundhouse. The Roundhouse had briefly hosted the UFO Club after its original venue was closed down due to police pressure and the imprisonment of founder John 'Hoppy' Hopkins. The band Motörhead's debut performance took place here on July 20, 1975. It hosted the first UK appearance of The Ramones, in a show on July 4, 1976, that is often credited with kicking off the UK Punk Rock movement. Kraftwerk also played there in 1977. The concert featuring the Doors and Jefferson Airplane was taped and is sometimes shown on PBS.

The Roundhouse has also been used for theatre and has had two periods of theatrical glory before its current re-opening - the first in the 1970's under the leadership of visionary producer Thelma Holt when experimental theatre productions by the Living Theatre 1776 and Peter Brook were among the highlights. The second was after its purchase by the Norman Trust when the unreconstructed venue opened for a two year period to raise awareness and funds for the redevelopment under the directorship of former BAC director Paul Blackman. Highlights included the Royal National Theatre's Oh What a Lovely War, dancer Michael Clark's comeback performance, percussion extravaganza Stomp, Ken Campbell's 24 hour long show The Warp all of which preceded De La Guarda's Villa Villa which ran for a record breaking year at the venue becoming the longest ever running show there, ending when the venue closed for re-development work to commence.

In 1983 the GLC had passed the building to Camden and it closed as a venue. With the support of the Arts Council there were plans to develop the building and the site as a centre for black artists but after spending £2m this project folded in 1990 amid allegations of corruption and misspent funds. The building lay empty until its purchase by the Norman Trust led by philanthropist and retired toy maker Torquil Norman who in 1998 set up the Roundhouse Trust to lead its redevelopment. The renovated Roundhouse, to a design by John McAslan & Partners architects and Buro Happold engineers, reopened on 1 June 2006.

Upcoming gigs / Past gigs

11.03.2023 Bullet For My Valentine: European Headlining Tour 2023


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