Wednesday, 3 September 2008

When Marc Bolan and David Bowie were in West Hampstead

We're in Broadhurst Gardens and looking west from the bus stop, up towards West End Lane and immediately on the left is an interesting stark red brick building.

Currently it is Lillian Baylis House, home of the English National Opera (ENO).

It began life in 1884 for the Falcon Works - I'm unclear what this would have been - and was built by Thomas Bate. It was he who put the crest plaque at the top in the pediment - but in fact it's not a falcon at all it's an eagle and a castle and is the crest of the Borough of Bedford! The story goes that Mr Bate just mistook the eagle for a falcon!

Whatever the Falcon Works were they were not successful and within three years the building was purchased by a butcher, licensed as a church and then turned into a entertainment venue.

It was in this later form that it became established as West Hampstead Town Hall.

Yet by 1933 the venue had become the recording studio of Crystalate Gramaphone Recording Company and four years later was the recording studios in London for Decca Company.

It was in this later life that the venue gained notopriety and indeed is the place the beatles fdailed their audition for Decca (The tapes of this were later released in 1982?). The briefest internet search reveals a host of others who recorded here - David Bowie, Billy Fury, The Larry Page Orchestra, The Zombies, Dean Martinon, Marc Bolan, Leo Birnbaum and many others...

2 comments:

Julian H said...

Top digging.

Anonymous said...

Are you not confusing this place with the former Decca recording studio in Belsize Road at the far end of West End Lane near the Priory pub or the Little Bay?