Farewell and RIP to the Hammersmith Palais 10


Hammersmith Palais Ghostsign by Caroline Derry

Photo: Caroline Derry

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 (more images here, here and here).  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

Hammersmith Palais ghostsign close up by Malcolm Edwards

Photo: Malcolm Edwards

Photo: Malcolm Edwards / HAT

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  • helen

    >Great to record it before it came down. A real beauty.

  • VERY SAD TO SEE THE PALAIS REDUCED TO RUBBLE…A HUGE LANDMARK IN WEST LONDON….MANY MEMORIES OF IT”S 1970’S DISCO’S….WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU, HAMMERSMITH PALAIS!!….A PROUD WEST LONDON BORN BABYBOOMER…

    • Thanks for the tribute Gerri, I missed its heyday in nappies unfortunately…

  • Steve Chen5

    They have kept thw back wall with the ghostsign on, in fact a few bricks have been replaced, but the sign is still there, just. 

  • the back wall is still there, and from the station the ghostsign is still visible. A few bricks have been replaced in the sign without adding colour. Someone is still keeping it going. 

    • Thanks for the update, perhaps there is hope for this classic sign yet. Do you know of any plans for the wall in the future?

      • I actually work as a fitter in the Depot, and when I heard there was a `possession`, I did wonder if there were to be any restoration, unfortunately no, just a few bricks replaced to help shore up the wall with girders etc. I will see what I can find out, if anything anyway. 

        • Thanks Steve, keep us posted and perhaps there could be a follow up post in the future to document the next chapter in this story…

          • sally

            I cannot believe it I spend many Saturday nights at the palais great nights and place
            Sally

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