Click here to find out the link between this iconic building and Kilburn.
Click here to find out the link between this iconic building and Kilburn.
Ford and Walton, the Kilburn builders of BBC Broadcasting House
Richard Thomas Ford and Francis James Walton were both employed by the Kilburn building firm of John Allen and Sons which was based in today’s Kingsgate Studios building. Then in December 1903 Ford and Walton set up their own building firm with a small office at No.1 West End Lane. In 1905 they acquired the large yard behind Nos. 242-252 Kilburn High Road. Number 242 was re-numbered in 1923 as No.254, which today is the address of the new 60-flat development ‘Park Place’ overlooking Grange Park.
Richard Ford grew up in Kilburn and was living with his parents at No.9 Lowfield Road in 1881 and at No.1 Kylemore Road in 1891. In 1894 he married Clara Saxby and they had three children. In August 1904 their little daughter ‘Dottie’ or Doris, died aged only nine and a half at their home, 42 Dyne Road. Richard Ford died in 1911 when he was living at 23 Mapesbury Road, and he left £7,401, today worth about £720,000.
Frank Walton lived in St Pancras. He married Anne Martha Stevens in 1890, and they had five children. In 1929 he was at 2 Morland Close Hampstead Way close to the Heath, when he died living £63,401 (today worth about £3.6M) to his widow.
The firm kept going under the sons of Richard and Frank and had lots of work around London. In 1930, they signed the contract with the BBC to build Broadcasting House in Portland Place, and it was completed in 1931.
The Grade II* building is in the Art Deco style on a steel frame. The first radio broadcast was made on 15 March 1932 and it was officially opened on 15 May.
The 1931 photograph has the Ford and Walton sign on the front and was taken before the Eric Gill statues of ‘Prospero’ and ‘Ariel’, and those by Kilburn sculptor Gilbert Bayes, were installed.
We would like to wish you all a healthy and happy New Year 2019. 2018 has seen some improvements to Kilburn with new shops and restaurants openings, the resurfacing of Kilburn High Road and of course the re-opening of our Theatre and Cinema.
With your help, we can make Kilburn better, by shopping and eating locally, reporting street issues and using our wonderful community facilities.
Kilburn National Club
This popular music venue was at 234 Kilburn High Road, on the corner of Messina Avenue. Many famous musicians including Johnny Cash and David Bowie played there. We look at the original building which was the Grange Cinema, and what happened when the National closed and was taken over by two different church groups.
The Grange was a large mansion standing in grounds of nine and a half acres and with a frontage to Kilburn High Road. It was the home of Ada Peters the widow of a wealthy coach builder who made coaches for Queen Victoria. Following Ada’s death in 1910, the property was sold. The new owner was Oswald Stoll, a major name in the entertainment world who had already built the London Coliseum in St Martin’s Lane, near Leicester Square. Stoll wanted to erect another Coliseum theatre in Kilburn. In fact, progress overtook him and instead of a theatre, the 2,028 seat Grange cinema opened on 30 July 1914. This remained the biggest cinema in Kilburn until the huge Gaumont State opened in December 1937 with over 4,000 seats making it the largest cinema in Europe. The Grange cinema finally closed on 14 June 1975.
Butty’s Club and Dance Hall
Michael ‘Butty’ Sugrue, who ran the Admiral Nelson pub in Carlton Vale Kilburn and the Wellington in Shepherd’s Bush, opened his club in the old Grange Cinema on 23 Feb 1976. As a Kerry man he particularly catered for the Irish community. He was a wrestler, circus performer and was known as ‘Ireland’s Strongest Man’, able to lift four 56lb weights attached to a cart axle and dragging a cart filled with ten men using a rope clenched between his teeth. Butty was also an entrepreneur and a great publicist, and he persuaded Muhammad Ali to go to Dublin to fight his sparring partner, Alvin ‘Blue’ Lewis in July 1972. Closer to home, he persuaded Mick Meaney a barman at the Admiral Nelson, to break the world record for being buried alive. In April 1968 journalists joined huge crowds to watch as Mick emerged after 61 days underground. There are video clips of Butty on YouTube:
Butty’s club ran until at least 1980 and so overlapped with the National Club.
Kilburn National Ballroom, or the Kilburn National Club
What is the link between Kilburn and Elton John, Jeff Beck, U2, Eric Clapton, Roxy Music, Simply Red, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Suede and the Biograph Cinema? Well, it is 248 Kilburn High Road.
The ticket windows in Kilburn Park Station got a green make-over. What a great idea!
“White Teeth” at the Kiln Theatre has been receiving very good reviews and not only from us. We were pleased to see Zadie Smith’s mother at the community day yesterday. A significant number of people enquired about the possible return of children workshops and children Saturday theatre shows. We were told that both would be returning soon, which is great news.
Bradley Wiggins mentioned his childhood in Kilburn.
Maison de la Vie cafe celebrated their first birthday on 10th November, with cake and music. Continue reading
Master Rock Studios and the Biograph Cinema, by Dick Weindling
Many buildings in Kilburn have interesting stories, but few can match No.248 Kilburn High Road. The site is now demolished and permission has been given for two blocks of flats. They may not be aware, but the new residents will be living on top of a slice of media history.
The Biograph Cinema
In October 1908, American-born George Washington Grant and two partners formed the Biograph Theatre Company. They saw cinema as the growing medium and opened two Biograph cinemas in the Holloway Road and Peckham in 1909. The busy working-class area of Kilburn was a good place for their next venture. In May 1910, The Biograph Theatre with 600 seats opened at No.236 Kilburn High Road. The trade newspaper, Era, said, ‘It is doing remarkably well and is prettily decorated in brown and gold and is very cosy.’ Continue reading
Somebody else agrees with us that Kilburn is getting fabulous food places but needs tender loving care.
Maison de la Vie are hosting live music every Friday. Worth a visit.
The Philippine Consul visited Philip San who have been getting great reviews. If you have not done so, please go and visit, great food and nice staff.
Have you eaten at Zero 75 in Belsize road?
A strange structure appeared by Kilburn tube station raising speculations about its purpose.
Friday 26th October was the first preview night of “White Teeth” at our local theatre. The set is Kilburn High Road and Mary, a well known character to those who have lived in Kilburn for some time, is at centre stage. The play is excellent and a celebration of Kilburn’s quirkiness. Do go and see it, you will not be disappointed and you may learn the song about Kilburn High Road.
Island Records was formed by Chris Blackwell who was born in London, but grew up in Jamaica. In 1958 after trying various jobs and using money from his parents, he decided to record Lance Hayward, a young, blind jazz pianist who was playing at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay. The record was released in 1959, and this was the beginning of what would later become Island Records. The following year Blackwell had a hit with Laurel Aitken’s ‘Boogie In My Bones’. Using the money from the sales he set up a small office in Kingston. In 1962 Blackwell moved to London and began selling records to the West Indian communities in London, Birmingham, and Manchester from the back of his Mini-Cooper.
Blackwell took the name of Island Records from Alec Waugh’s novel ‘Island in the Sun’. Island Records Ltd began in May 1962 with four partners who invested a total of £4,000: Chris Blackwell, Graham Goodall, an Australian music engineer living in Jamaica, the Chinese-Jamaican record producer Leslie Kong and his brother.
From March 1963 to 1967 Island Records had their office at 108 Cambridge Road, (since demolished as part of the South Kilburn redevelopment plan). Continue reading
We enjoyed glorious weather this weekend.
Grange Park was at its best with numerous “Pokemon Go” players congregating on Sunday, the Police horses exercising, dogs being walked, yoga in the middle of the green, tennis and football being played while kids ran and leaves turned beautiful colours. We love our park and would welcome more investment in it. So please spend 2 mins to request Camden spend some CIL money on it. Continue reading
Dick Weindling, our local historian has published 3 new posts. One about West Hampstead’s connection to the 1994 IRA bombing,an other about a local Kilburn policeman who was badly attacked and left for dead by burglars and the last one about a Kilburn connection with the London Pavilion.
Speaking of police, Camden hosted on 13th September, a Kilburn Community Safety meeting attended by about 40 residents, the Police (from Commander to local PCSO’s), the Community Safety Officer, the Senior Environment Monitoring officer, the Licensing and HMO officers amongst others. We are glad to report that Inspector Richard Berns committed to work more closely with Brent’s Police. Of note was the absence of our Kilburn Councillors, Flick Rea being the only Councillor in attendance. Read here for the coverage of the meeting by the Kilburn Times.