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.
In news this fortnight we were incredibly saddened to hear that a man diedin a fire along with his pets in a flat in the Sidings Estate.
A child, who is a pupil at Kingsgate school, was also hit by a car last week. Will Camden council do anything to make our roads safer?
And in final bad news, a pensioner was taken to hospital after trying to tackle a thief in the EE store.
Kilburn used to be called the music mile. Our local historian, Dick Weindling, has been trying to compile a full history of 234 Kilburn High Road. With acts as famous as Bowie, Nirvana, the Pogues, it would be great if you could send us a list of acts you have seen there and pictures of programmes or tickets to complete the events record of one of Kilburn’s musical landmark.
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:
We have a favour to ask of Kilburn locals. Can you please write an email of support in favour of the below three NCIL bids for December? Money is available to help improve our local neighbourhood but we need businesses and locals to help support these bids to make them happen.
Unfortunately the deadline is today BUT….. it won’t take you long to do.
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →