11 May 2012

Farewell and RIP to the Hammersmith Palais

Hammersmith Palais Ghostsign by Caroline Derry
Photo: Caroline Derry

[Update, November 2020: This sign is still visible, and the demolition works appear to have only affected the building immediately behind this wall.]

Thursday, 10th May 2012 marked the final destruction of the once proud Hammersmith Palais, home to this underground-platform-long ghostsign. Dances were once twice daily but the evidence of this now only remains in these and other photographic records.

Martin Percival alerted me to this loss of one of London’s most distinctive ghostsigns and wrote this short piece to accompany his own collection of images of the front and back of the now destroyed music venue:

“Opened as a ballroom called the Palais de Danse in 1919 the venue closed in April 2007. In the meantime it had been an important music venue and dance hall for the 88 years of its existence. The Clash song “White Man (in Hammersmith Palais)” was inspired by Joe Strummers visit to the venue for a reggae all nighter on 5 June 1977. The last gig at the venue was from The Fall on Sunday 1 April 2007. At one stage it was scheduled for demolition but the recession has given it a reprieve. In the meantime the venue has deteriorated badly in the 5 years since its closure. On 10 May 2012 it was demolished.”

It was one of the longest ghostsigns in the UK, part of a small group including Thornycroft in Leeds, Normanton Garage in Sheffield, and, perhaps the UK record holder, Butlers Ales in Wolverhampton. I may have missed others so please add to the comments if so.

It was also a relative rarity in that it advertised an entertainment venue other than a cinema. Very few others exist in the HAT archivethe Coliseum in Shoreditch being the oldest, alongside the modern Live Family Entertainment in Islington and 12 Bar Club in Soho. This has alerted me to the fact that my own Vortex Jazz Bar sign (also an RIP) isn’t in the HAT archive and, as above, add a comment if I’ve missed any.

This was one of the great ghostsigns whose card had been marked for some time. RIP.

Hammersmith Palais ghostsign close up by Caroline Derry
Photo: Caroline Derry

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