Denmark Street's developer signals commitment to support small venues in 'Tin Pan Alley'.
Restoring Soho's musical heritage is a key aim of Outernet Global's development at St Giles Circus. The loss of the iconic Astoria venue to Crossrail's Tottenham Court Road redevelopment will be remedied with a brand new 2000 capacity venue suitable for gigs as well as other events, close to the Northern line escalator.
But it's arguably the small music shops and entertainment venues that give Soho much of its unique character. So let's talk about the much lamented 12 Bar Club, which lost its permanent home in Denmark Street in 2015, but is now rumoured to be returning.
First opened in 1994, The 12 Bar Club played host to artists early in their career including Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice and The Libertines, but it also gave a leg-up to several of my mates' bands who were nowhere near as good. However, it is possibly best known for its association with the so called 'Thamesbeat' movement of the mid-noughties; hosting artists included Jamie T and a young women with the chat of a scaffolder, but a singing voice like melting chocolate; Adele.
Recently, I was given a glimpse behind the curtain of the Outernet London construction site by contractor Skanska and guess what? They have preserved every brick and graffiti scrawl of the original 12 Bar Club and have it trussed up in a protective palette ready to be re-instated in its original location on Denmark Street. I briefly pitched the idea of bands performing in the venue while hanging from a crane (always thinking!) until someone with a clip-board and a hard-hat gave me all the reasons why that definitely couldn't happen.
A quick look on Google shows there was a fairly acrimonious battle in 2015 to 'save' the 12 Bar Club from temporary closure, but anyone who has frequented Denmark Street in the past five years would be hard pressed to deny that it needs a vision for the future in order to thrive and attract a new generation of music artists and fans. Clearly the area around Tottenham Court Road and Centre Point is rapidly evolving and Outernet Global is committed to embracing the disruption of Crossrail and using the massively increased footfall to spotlight ALL the shops and venues of Denmark Street; Britain's 'Tin Pan Alley' also know affectionately as the birthplace of British rock and roll.
Moving the protected ‘Smithy’ building has been key to preserving the 12 Bar Cub. The oldest of the structures on site its been a stable yard, a blacksmith and most recently part of the 12 Bar Club.