After we looked at the current state of London’s Tobacco Docks a grand and mighty structure that’s being revived and utilized by the clubbing fraternity it brought us here at MEOKO to look further into London’s cultural and historical plain. From abandoned hospitals and police stations to forgotten tube stations and public baths, the city is bursting with post-war spaces that are yearning to be used for something good. At MEOKO we’ve picked out some of our favourite old and abandoned structures and look at why we think they would make a superb space in which to have a rave-up. Some have been taken over by the ‘man’ already, whereas some look destined to forever remain in their lifeless, decrepit states for sometime to come. All in all though as highlighted below London is an interesting playground to keep even the most adventurous party-goer entertained. Here’s a crop of our potential favorite spots…
Hackney Children’s Hospital, Bethnal Green (Renamed The Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital)
Unfortunately, the standing children’s hospital which functioned as a medical establishment until the mid ‘90s has been earmarked for flats. A large structure comprised of many room, corridors and annexes, this haunted and eerie building would have been perfect material for fans of contemporary music. Well situated in terms of transport, with a wide-open courtyard area which could also be utilized. The Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital could have provided a perfect setting for an all night party.
The Old Vinyl Factory, Hayes, Middlesex
Far West of the city lays an industrial behemoth. A disused vinyl factory reportedly the main site for major labels such as EMI and distributors such as HMV. A huge structure that’s made of a complex of separate buildings, it was heavily bombed during the second world war (where it was used as a centre for developing radar technologies, the structure is due a 250 million pound makeover and redevelopment albeit for mixed public activities. It’s already being used for gigs and special showcases (of which Holy Ghost!, Shit Robot and more have already played secret shows) and also the location for many video shoot. The Factory is credited for being one of the biggest vinyl pressing plants to have existed and is often credited as ‘the place where vinyl was born’. Hopefully we’ll see less of the jingle-jangle indie bands that a re frequently showcased there and more direct lineage with black wax in the form of your favourite after hours DJ playing in a small pocket of the sprawling 17-acre site.
The Spillers Millennium Mills, Docklands, East London
Ask anyone who has travelled on the Docklands Light Railway (or indeed anyone who lives in the Prince Regent side of Docklands) will be more than aware of the sheer beauty and prowess of the towering Spillers Millennium Mills site. Seemingly encased in untreated landstill thought to contain unexploded bombs that fell during London’s blitzkrieg the site is fenced off, but the Mills stand tall as one of the grandest structures in the area. It’s been left derelict for decades, and its most primary function has been the usage of it’s exterior as a projector for moving image and video. The area around the Millennium Mills was turned into the ill-fated London Pleasure Gardens and in the ‘80’s was used as the backdrop to a show by overtly camp light and laser freak Jean-Michel Jarre. The Millennium Mills are also the most heavily guarded of London’s forgotten old structures, with 24 hour security, sensor technology and heavy fencing makes it impossible to sneak close up to the beautiful, crumbling ruin (and indeed wonder why it’s being preserved in such a hush-hush, secretive way). Just the look of it screams ‘mega rave’ or ‘club’ with a similar structural aesthetic and shape to that of an establishment like Berghain in Berlin, maintaining that same edge of post-industrial might and post modern style. This one has got to be used by the dance music community at some point- they just need to get rid of all the asbestos first.
The Marshall Street Baths, Soho, Central London
Of many of London’s old community based buildings, a dying breed is the public baths and swimming pools. Once bustling hubs for the local community to recreate and enjoy, London is now perforated with stale leisure centers with crap rapid machines and rusting flumes. Back in the old days, London was full of grandeur and the public baths were a spectacular place to see and be seen. Public baths such as Poplar Baths were utilized by Frieze for a pop up 2 week fair. But the most beautiful and stunning of them all has to be the art-deco-gilded Marshall Street Baths in Central London. Comprised of marble décor and bronze fountains, the space itself is one of a kind, with the main pool itself looking like a multi level main-room of a club. Although Westminster Council have finished a cool £25million pound refurbishment and resurrected the building to serve its primary function, we sill believe that its main swimming pool would be an awesome location for a rave. C’mon Westminster council drain out those chlorine-heavy-waters and let the filthy plebeians of London get their exercise in a more imaginative (and fun) way. Let’s dance!
The Aldwych (Strand) Tube Station, Central London
London’s famed tube network was the first in the world and built during the Victorian age, it’s ageing tunnels have stood the test of time since the first tube train ran in the late 19th century. And of course, London’s network has grown and expanded, but many old stations have disappeared and closed down due to varying reasons (you an actually view an old tube map here). Many stations have simply vanished, bricked up and erased from memory, while some have had their street level concourses built into shops (the stations for King William Street, Marlborough Road and even The British Museum were here way before we were even a twinkle in our fathers’ eyes) but one of the best kept is the old Aldwych tube station, located at the Kings College end of the Strand, Central London. The Aldwych station has been kept in pristine condition, and is often used for filming scenes for big budget television and cinema releases. The Aldwych station is so well kept, even, that it has restored and maintained the tube tunnels themselves Aldwych’s long gone tube station could possibly be one of the coolest places to hold a full on party. No noise restrictions, a communal bar area and a generally awesome location, this famous indicator of London’s rapid growth and expansion would be ideal to hold a good ol’ knees up in. Mind the closing doors!
Studio Spaces (The former Shoreditch Rail Station)
This former rail station that served the Shoreditch and Hoxton areas (when they were also a world away from the gentrified hotbeds of wealth of style), the Old Shoreditch Rail Station sits on the list as a final example of the good being preserved from our beloved city’s rich history. Founded in 1865 and damaged heavily during the war, the station finally ceased operations in 1986. In 2007 a local photographer bought the lease from Tfl to use as a studio and dark room. After renovating the building with its original loft beams and textured patterned wall tiling, the space has become a prime example of a derelict building being turned into an interesting and functioning public space. Maintaining its original features many of which date back 150 years the space, now dubbed Studio Spaces is a glorious triumph of regeneration and restoration. Plus the acoustics are amazing.