The Roundhouse

The Roundhouse was built in 1847 as a turntable engine shed for the London and Birmingham Railway at Chalk Farm (near Camden Town), in London, England. The architect was Robert B Dockray and the builder was Branson & Gwyther.

Steam locomotives of the time could not run well in reverse, and the turntable allowed engines to be turned round to point in the forward direction. The design also allowed engines to be kept under cover in a number of radial sidings within the shed.

Within 20 years locomotives became too large for the facilities to handle, and the Roundhouse underwent a number of changes of use. For years it was a gin store for the firm of W & A Gilbey Ltd until it was converted to a theatre in the late 1960s.

In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, the Roundhouse became an important venue for UK Underground and music events under the banners of Middle Earth and Implosion, mainly hosted and arranged by the DJ Jeff Dexter. The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Incredible String Band and The Doors played at the Roundhouse. The Roundhouse had briefly hosted the UFO Club after its original venue was closed down due to police pressure and the imprisonment of founder John Hopkins. Motorhead’s debut performance took place here on July 20, 1975. It hosted the first UK appearance of The Ramones, in a show on July 4, 1976, that is often credited with kicking off the UK Punk Rock movement.

The Roundhouse serves as the venue for the BBC’s Electric Proms season of music in October 2006, and has also hosted award ceremonies such as the BT Digital Music Awards and the Vodafone Live Music Awards.

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