Dead End Streets: The Kinks Landmarks Under Threat
THE KINKS “DEAD END STREET”
|Little Green “Dead End” Street|
The street is still cobbled, well, apart from the terrible eye-sore of a huge blotch of tarmac put down by some council contractor with a total lack of regard for the street’s character or history. I was bemoaning this fact when I noticed a large colourful banner and some posters hanging in resident’s windows declaring that the street’s future was in danger due to a new property development. When I got home I checked out the web-site address on the banner to find out more and discovered the depressing, but not unfamiliar, news that the residents have been fighting a long battle with Camden Council in opposition to plans to build a gated development of 30 luxury homes with an underground car park. So, this lovely little street, that survived the Blitz, may not yet survive the property developer’s bulldozers and our Government’s obsession with smashing a wrecking ball through any last traces of individualism, local history and heritage. So, please do try and check out the “Save Little Green Street” campaign’s excellent web-site and share it around to help raise awareness and show some support to the residents.
Sadly, Denmark Street, or Tin Pan Alley as it is more commonly known, is another famous musical London landmark with a Kinks connection that finds itself under threat from property developers.
|The Blue Plaque in Denmark Street|
However, Denmark Street’s history and relationship with music goes back way further than The Kinks of course. This small side street, located in the parish of St. Giles, was once home to a leper colony and then became a slum area called the Rookery with stocks and gallows for public executions. There were some good times though, for example in 1687 the street was improved so much so that it was described as “a fair, broad street, with good houses, and well inhabited by gentry” and there are still eight properties on the street that date back to that time. Due to it’s proximity to Soho’s many theatres, Denmark Street became a prime location for printing companies specialising in the publication of broadside lyric sheets which then developed into the sheet music trade. In 1926 the composer and publisher Lawrence Wright started the music newspaper Melody Maker from his offices on Denmark Street and as the music related activity increased the nickname Tin Pan Alley, borrowed from Manhattan, started to appear. In the 1950’s the New Musical Express opened its offices on Denmark Street and the first recording studios appeared in the 60’s. The Sex Pistols recorded some early demos at Number 6 and there’s still some rather amusing graffiti preserved on the walls as can be seen in the DVD extras in Julien Temple’s “There’ll Always Be an England” movie. Denmark Passage is also home to Enterprise Studios where many well known bands have rehearsed over the years, in fact I have just seen it mentioned in Viv Albertine’s new autobiography “Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys”.
|The 12 Bar Club Denmark Street|
So, this historic and atmospheric street is also under threat from property developers and the Cross Rail work that has already seen destruction of The Astoria, the Metro Club, the LA2 and the St. Martin’s College of Art where the Sex Pistols once played an early gig. Why we need yet more identikit soul-less shopping malls packed with chain coffee stores and restaurants I will never understand, it is a disgrace. Most depressingly of all though, Retro Man Blog’s favourite London club,The 12 Bar, is one of the buildings under most threat and it will be a crying shame to lose this truly independent venue which promotes and supports unsigned bands 7 nights a week. As regular readers will know, the 12 bar has been the scene of some truly memorable gigs, and I’m sure you will be familiar with the neon bull-horn logo and the old forge behind the stage from many photos featured in the Blog. The Fallen Leaves legendary “Minimum R’n’B” club nights on the first Wednesday of every month are always highlighted in the diary and have become a fantastic social event for musicians and fans alike to relax, mingle and enjoy the great line-ups that The Leaves put on. The main room of the 12 Bar is a historic building in it’s own right and as you can see from the two pictures below hardly anything has changed since the top photo was taken 100 years ago!
|The Medhurst company forge photographed in 1914|
|The Fallen Leaves on stage in the forge room, 12 Bar Club 2014 – Copyright Paul Slattery|