Derelict London: Through Paul Talling

Paul Talling is another ex Buzz Clubber. He also ran his own Blue Fire nights at the West End Centre (where we ran The Buzz Club) and put out compilation albums featuring bands from the Aldershot and Farnborough area.

I recently stumbled upon his wonderful ‘Derelict London‘ book and website and I asked Paul about some of the photos. I was especially curious about the ones of lost music venues.




The lost music venue on section on Derelict London became such a large task that I decided to split from the main Derelict London project and write a book about it instead. So…the 242 page book London’s Lost Music Venues will be released in Spring 2020 by independent record company Damaged Goods (home of Billy Childish, Amyl & the Sniffers, etc) and concentrates on approx 150 smaller lost venues from the 1950s to modern day within the M25 – larger sized venues will be covered in a second volume later on. 


Music Venue Book Cover copy

This book is not a social analysis of the scenes but more of an observation of how many live music venues have disappeared, a history of who played at each of these venues and to answer the often asked question of what do those sites look like these days so the book has modern day pics of the site along with archive flyers,old pics and press ads. Better known venues such as The Marquee Clubs, The Roxy, The Rock Garden and the 12 Bar Club are among those covered in the West End plus many more iconic outside of Central London such as the Ealing ClubEel Pie Island Hotel in Twickenham and often less documented but important venues such as The Falcon in Camden, Bridge House in Canning Town, Royal Standard in Walthamstow, The Tramshed in Woolwich, Red Lion in Brentford and the Greyhound in Croydon.
Music Venue Book Back Cover copy

From ‘Derelict London’

Sir George Robey (the cover of the book features the Robey)
During the late 1980s the Robey was the venue for any up-and-coming band with a Ford Transit on the ‘toilet circuit’ up and down the country. Folk musician Joe Giltrap ran the Robey in the early 1980s and Christy Moore, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Alien Sex Fiend, T’Pau & The Pogues were some of the acts that he hosted before leaving in 1987. The venue continued largely unchanged into the late 1980s to the mid 1990s and acts included Hawkwind, Steve Marriott, Gong, Blur, No Doubt, Snuff and the Exploited. During this period the Robey was also  popular with promoters who hosted allday punk and ska gigs
In 1989 My old mate Roy & I hosted a punk all-weekender that was so busy that the police had to stop the crowd spilling out into traffic on the Seven Sisters Road. Everybody seemed to have a love/hate relationship with the place especially the appalling toilets. It certainly attracted great bands, but it was also none too salubrious at times – I remember watching the singer TV Smith slipping over someone’s vomit whilst onstage. The venue also staged allnighters by Club Dog which had a squat & free party vibe with its psychedelic bands crossing over with the rave scene. Nick Hornby is said to have based the Harry Lauder music venue in the High Fidelity book on the Sir George Robey. I witnessed the pub being demolished a few years ago and I keep a souvenir piece of the masonry at home beside my pc!
Marquee (2nd version)
In 1964 the Marquee club moved a short distance from its Oxford Street basement to this old Burberry warehouse that would become its most celebrated location at 90 Wardour Street. On its opening night acts The Yardbirds and for 24 years almost every major rock band of note played on the Marquee’s Wardour Street stage. Among artists who played at the Marquee during the 1960s are The Who, David Bowie, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd and The Small Faces. Into the 1970s, acts included The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, The Police,The Jam, Joy Division and The Cure. Acts during the 1980s included Duran Duran, AC/DC, Motorhead, Genesis, Iron Maiden and ZZ Top. The Marquee was also chosen as setting for the music video for “I’m Your Man” by Wham! The club relocated to Charing Cross Road in 1988 when it was believed that the vibrations from the sound system had caused damage to the structure of the building’s façade. Although the original entrance remains and has been converted to apartments, the main club area to the left of the entrance was demolished and replaced with a restaurant.
Kilburn National
This one will be covered in volume 2 of London’s Lost Music Venues. One of many massive old cinemas & theatres who hosted live music but are now converted into churches. This place hosted gigs by The Smiths, New Order, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth, The Pixies and Nirvana.


Lou’s Cafe, Deptford 
This picture was taken in 2013 after an 82 year old woman died in an arson attack.The victim was an Italian woman who ran the family-owned Lou’s Cafe for decades.
Georges Diner, Silvertown
Allegedly serving up the best fry-ups and home-made steak and kidney pies for miles around. This East London greasy spoon was a popular haunt among builders & van drivers. Georges Diner – they never got round to putting an apostrophe in the sign – closed down in 2005 to make way for the new Silvertown Quays development though that is still pending and the cafe remains derelict.
Blackfriars Cafe, Southwark
The popular family run (since 1978) Blackfriars Cafe was the only proper fry-up in down the Blackfriars Rd, SE1. Some London cafes have closed in London due to declining business but this one was ever popular and was forced to close due to the demolition of the Edwardian mansion block that it was sited in to be replaced by a faceless 10 storey block of flats.
Victory Cafe , Hackney
Taken in 2003 during demolition. Despite often being over twice the price, trendy coffee bars & US chains have helped towards the gradual decline of the English “greasy spoon” cafe culture.

Derelict Office building photo grabs

The Clockhouse Building Bromley-by-Bow E3
This decaying office building formerly belonging to an engineering firm, had been derelict for several years. It occupies a valuable plot beside the A12, opposite Bromley-by-Bow Tube station. The block was regarded by most as an eyesore – the exterior clock has been removed, the windows largely gone, and the building covered in graffiti. On the inside, debris hanging from the ceilings, the stair-rails have removed and a gaping lift-shaft running through the centre of the building, which made it extremely dangerous to enter. This did not deter a handful of homeless people from living on the upper floors until recently, when onsite security was stepped up. The building was demolished in mid 2019 to make way for the construction of 500 flats on the site as part of its wider scheme to create 1,700 new homes in the area.
Derelict Office building photo grabs
Paul Talling first became interested in derelict buildings in 2003, after witnessing the demolition of an old candle factory in Battersea. Later that year, he set up, a website that collects photos and stories of the capital’s abandoned spots. Since then, the website has received 2 million views, won numerous awards, and been described by the Daily Telegraph as Britain’s ‘shabby Pevsner’. In 2008, Paul published the bestselling first edition of DERELICT LONDON to widespread acclaim.  Derelict London: All New Edition was released in Summer 2019. Covering everything from the overgrown stands of Leyton Stadium to the windswept alleys of the Aylesbury Estate, DERELICT LONDON reveals a side of the city you never knew existed.
I run walking tours all over London covering lost music venues, lost rivers and dereliction. To be notified of future dates people can join the mailing list by emailing I also welcome any old photographs and flyers/ads for venues which could be used in the second volume of the book.


Paul Talling’s guided walking tours are featured in 101 best things to do by TIME OUT LONDON

Books by Paul Talling:
London’s Lost Rivers  (Penguin Random House) – Out Now
Derelict London All New Edition  (Penguin Random House) – Out Now
London’s Lost Music Venues (Damaged Goods Books) –  Early 2020
Absolutely fabulous, thanks Paul! X

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s