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News / Music & Nightlife

Electrowerkz becomes the latest London venue under threat

Derek Ridgers photography: Gina, Electrowerkz
© Derek Ridgers

Update: Thanks to TfL for a swift response. We're told that Electrowerkz is not threatened by Crossrail 2, that the new tunnels will pass 30m below the venue and that the safeguarding process is just to ensure that nobody builds anything on the site with deep foundations that could complicate things later. We're happy to issue that correction, and especially happy to get some good news for once. Cheers!

Hey, guess what? Yet another of London’s independent music and nightlife venues might be forced to shut down in the name of progress! Only a few days ago we found out that the Bussey Building in Peckham might get developed out of existence. The week before that The Coronet announced that it would be knocked down in 2017 to make room for a couple more Itsus in the new Elephant & Castle shopping centre. Now it’s Electrowerkz (also known as Islington Metal Works) that’s facing annihilation, this time because of… no, not more posh flats. It’s the other great leveller: Crossrail.

‘Hold on,’ you might be thinking, ‘didn’t we already lose a shedload of great venues to Crossrail?’ You would of course be right: the Astoria, the Metro, the old 12 Bar Club, The Intrepid Fox and even arguably Madame Jojo’s have all been Crossrailed out of Soho over the last few years. But Crossrail has apparently been so successful that TfL are already looking at a sequel: Crossrail 2.

The new proposed railway from Tottenham to Wimbledon will (we’re told) ‘bring huge benefits’, but would also probably wipe out the top end of Torrens Street, where Electrowerkz has been hosting a huge range of weird and wonderful club nights and gigs for 30-odd years. The promoters of one of these nights, the legendary goth club Slimelight, have discovered that TfL has ‘safeguarded’ the land beneath the venue – that is, earmarked it for infrastructure development. Check out more details of the situation at The Last Kult blog.

Now, as massive London transport geeks we can understand why you’d want an incredibly shiny new train whisking you from your Chelsea pad to a zeitgeisty pop-up in Dalston at some point in the 2020s. But we can’t understand why every time someone wants to build a Crossrail station, they decide to do it on top of a much-loved club or music venue. Like, is someone on some committee somewhere doing this shit deliberately?

It all makes the London’s Grassroots Music Venues Rescue Plan, the report which the Mayor’s Music Venue Taskforce published last month, look like a belated exercise in locking the stable door. Anyone who wants to make their voice heard about the risk Crossrail The Second poses to Electrowerkz – and the alternative communities that have called it home for decades – can respond to TfL’s Crossrail 2 consultation before January 6. But until developers of all kinds start treating music and nightlife venues like important cultural centres rather than annoyances, we’re sorry to say that we’re not feeling optimistic.

If you’d like to help save Electrowerkz, respond to TfL’s Crossrail 2 consultation.

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