Queen At 50 – London Locations – Part 1

The Eventim Apollo, a large, wide building. Above the ground floor, which has steps leading up to multiple entrance doors, a narrow panel across the entire building features the venue's name and large red letters reading Let The Music Play. Above that, the building is mainly large white concrete, with a row of 14 tall, narrow windows stretching about halfway up. The very top of the venue has a red brick layer topped by a small layer of white concrete.

Back in September I spent a day walking around some of the Queen-related locations in Hammersmith & Kensington, following the Day 1 itinerary on the Queen Locations website. And my intention was to find most of the locations listed on that site over a series of walks – i.e. those that still exist that I can get to reasonably easily. However, due to the weather and the toughening up of Covid restrictions, I haven’t yet had a safe chance to go hunting for any more.

So this is Part 1 of what will be a very sporadic series, looking at some of the key places where the band lived, recorded and performed. As I don’t yet know when I will be venturing back into Central London, I wanted to share some of the photos I’ve taken so far as a Christmas bonus, rather than waiting until I’d completed my explorations.

Thank you to Judit Castellà for creating the Queen Locations site, which inspired me to do this and made it very easy for me to track down these places. Check out their site for additional notes and photos, and also their Queen Online article about how the site came together. As well as their Day 1 itinerary, further notes and photos about these locations can be found on Queen ConcertsMercury Paradise and the map on Shane’s Queen Site.

So let’s get on with it, and I hope you enjoy walking in Queen’s footsteps with me!

Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Shepherd’s Bush Green, Shepherd’s Bush, W12

From 1953 to 1991, this was the BBC Television Theatre where Top Of The Pops was recorded. Queen’s first appearance on the show, performing Killer Queen, is said to have been recorded here – although the Queen Concerts site indicates that it may actually have been recorded 200 metres away in Lime Grove. But either way it’s still an important location, and Queen no doubt played here sometimes. Roger Taylor has also performed here with The Cross and The SAS Band as part of his solo career.

The Shepherd's Bush Empire, a red brick building with at least 4 floors, plus a circular domed tower on the front left corner.

The front of the Shepherd's Bush Empire, now called the O2 Empire. White posters cover up the 4 windows along the front, with stylistic blue lettering that reads This Is Just An Interval, in reference to the shutdown enforced by the Covid pandemic.

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Tower on the front left corner of the Shepherd's Bush Empire. Above the ground floor, a white stone section forms the first 3 floors, with a few vertical windows in somewhat random positions around it. This is topped by a red brick section, with vertical windows all around the edge at regular intervals, and at the very top is a smaller white domed section, again with windows all around it.

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36 Sinclair Road

Hammersmith, W14

The band shared a flat here in the early 1970s.

A row of 3 storey terraced houses in traditional brickwork with white framed windows. Most of them have a roof extension on top with windows going across, but one of them, number 36, has just a tiny arched window sticking up in the centre of its roof.

The ground floor of number 36 Sinclair Road, with white framing around the porch, door and windows. The front door is black or dark grey, with 2 tall arched and frosted windows on its top half.

The upper 2 floors of 36 Sinclair Road, The white framed windows on the first floor have an ornately decorated arch above them, while the windows on the second floor don't have any special decoration.

100 Holland Road

Kensington, W14

Freddie and Mary Austin lived here during the early 70s. The band’s first photo shoot also took place here, with many of the pictures by Doug Puddifoot appearing on the back of their first album.

A row of 4 storey terraced houses, in traditional brickwork with white framed windows and a flat roof.

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The upper 3 floors of 100 Holland Road, with white framed windows against the traditional brickwork. The windows on the first floor have a small balcony in front of them, with ornate black railings.

54 Russell Gardens

Kensington, W14

This is the former location of The Kensington Pub where Freddie, Brian, Roger and Mary would socialise, as would the band’s sound engineer from the early days, John Harris. It wasn’t the first time they’d all met by any means, but when they lived locally it was a good place for them to get together.

Old photos of the pub can be seen on Queen Concerts (reproduced below) and Wikimedia Commons, and there will be many others online of course.

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Photo from QueenConcerts.com, used for comparative illustration purposes.

However, the pub closed in mid-2011, and was demolished in 2014. This is indicated in the Viability Report, where you can see images of the building’s destruction on page 9. The framework of the new building started to appear in 2018, and the scaffolding is still covering it on Google’s Street View image from July 2019, which appears to be their most recent pass of the area at the time of writing.

But that had all disappeared when I visited earlier this year, in September 2020, and the new building looks very dull and uninspiring, sadly:

A tall, grey, 4 storey building on a street corner, with equally spaced vertical windows on each floor, and very narrow slitted windows on the corners of the upper 3 floors.

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Another angle of the large, square, 4 storey building at 54 Russell Gardens.

I don’t know what, if anything, the building is being used for now, but the official Planning and Design & Access statements indicate that it has a mixture of commercial and residential units.

Hammersmith Odeon

45 Queen Caroline St, Hammersmith, W6

Queen played many shows here, including their classic festive concert on Christmas Eve 1975 (broadcast live on BBC2 & BBC Radio 1, and later released on DVD & Blu-ray), and another on Boxing Day 1979 (the first of the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea). The venue has had various name changes since then, and is currently known as the Eventim Apollo.

The Eventim Apollo, a large, wide building. Above the ground floor, which has steps leading up to multiple entrance doors, a narrow panel across the entire building features the venue's name and large red letters reading Let The Music Play. Above that, the building is mainly large white concrete, with a row of 14 tall, narrow windows stretching about halfway up. The very top of the venue has a red brick layer topped by a small layer of white concrete.

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Close up of 3 theatrical faces sculpted into the concrete at the top of the Eventim Apollo, one with an exaggerated expression of sadness, one looking unemotional, and one looking very happy. A black coloured bird is flying past, its wings outstretched.

The Rutland Arms

15 Lower Mall, Hammersmith, W6

This pub near Hammersmith Bridge was a location in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie. It features in the “angry lizard” scene, where the band meet their new manager John Reid, and Freddie explains to him why they’re so unique.

The Rutland Arms pub, a 2 storey building with brick arches over the windows and a first floor balcony adorned with colourful flowers.

The Rutland Arms pub from a slightly different angle, showing the riverside path next to it, crowded with people either walking or sitting at tables. Hammersmith Bridge can be seen in the background.

The riverside path next to the Rutland arms, busy with people either sitting at tables, or standing in pairs and small groups. A row of bollards, with bikes resting against some of them, separate the path from the cul-de-sac that leads up to it.

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The motto there is “Multum In Parvo”, meaning “a great deal in a small space”.

Conclusion

So there you have it, that was my little wander through Hammersmith and Kensington a few months ago. I hope you enjoyed looking at those photos, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the year ahead, when I’m able to explore more freely again.

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger & Youtuber with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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