Over the gate...

Designed in 1913 by Victorian/Edwardian/other architect Theophilus A Allen; John Lennon's house between 1964 and 1968; sunroom, attic and prisco stripe hibernice; Mellotron and caravan; Babidji and Mimi; mortar and pestle; Wubbleyoo Dubbleyoo; curios and curiosity; remnants and residue; testimonials and traces; (Cavendish Avenue, Sunny Heights and Kinfauns); Montagu Square; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

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Legal Blah: This blog is for historical research only, and is strictly non-commercial. All visual and audio material remains the property of the respective copyright owner, and no implication of ownership by me is intended or should be inferred. Any copyright owner who wants something removed should contact me and I will do so immediately. Alternatively, I would be delighted to provide a credit. The writing is by me, such as it is, unless otherwise stated, and this is the only Beatles related blog I am responsible for.

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Friday, 31 August 2012

3 Savile Row: then & now, part 2.

As good an illustration as one might "hope" for of the manifold problems that "then unt now-ing" presents; one corner of what once was the ground floor office of John & Yoko, circa 1914 and 2006. Note how the room has been reduced in size, and the entrance has moved walls. The bottom of the grand staircase (itself subsequently replaced) is visible through the 1914 door.
Other aspects have survived, notably the fireplace:

Much of the detail of the room has gone, however. There seems a general tendency in renovation to favour the bland, possibly connected with prevailing notions vis-a-vis "property" that anything too individual or characterful will cause "potential next-buyer" problems. Whatever, they can't (or at least haven't) moved the windows. (Yet.):

Dragging "usselves" upstairs to the first floor, the long room overlooking Savile Row was the main board-room, ie the Beatles' collective office, not over-used by the four for reasons of business (and personal) dissonance. Co-incidentally, it is also probably the space to have been least abused. 1914 v. 1968:

1968 v. 2011. The fireplace is behind chipboard, and note how the spaces adjacent to the windows have been boxed in:

A close look reveals radiation:

The large wooden fireplace surround, an echo of grandeurs past, unmasked:

The other end of this room has seen some tinkering. Compare, again, if ye will, 1914 with 2011: the door is the same, but hidden behind the screen in 1914. Decoration still in-situ, though an arch has been inserted:

Thus, despite the odd cosmetic flim-flam, it's pretty much as was:

See here, again '68 versus '11:

Next up, upper floors (including what has become of the former press room), and the roof.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

3 Savile Row: then & now, part 1.

At the time of writing, visitors to number 3 will find the ground floor and basement hidden behind a builder's wooden facade. Once again, the house is being remoulded, this time as part of a retail-related endeavour, planning permission having been granted to turn the basement, ground and first floors into a branch of Abercrombie & Fitch, with the upper floors earmarked for offices. In traditional fashion, work is currently at a standstill, as there is wrangling over the design of an external access lift.
However, once that has been resolved, it should be possible to get in for a shufti, though be warned - little remains of the Apple-era structure beyond part of the external frontage, the basement roof beams, the reception room and adjoining office, the stairs and the front first floor office. Pretty much everything else is new; even the roof is completely different from that familiar to viewers of valedictory concerts.
At some point during the 1970s, and again in the early '80s, massive renovation occurred, such that most of the building was demolished and rebuilt. Why this happened is unclear, though persistant rumour has it that structural studio related alterations during the Apple era caused foundational instability, thus necessitating the radical rehaul.
So, (and so) little remains, but let's take a look.
Today we'll examine the basement and ground floor reception room (as circled above). Starting at the bottom, here's another circa 1914 shot of the front portion of the basement:

The roof beams are the only remaining original feature - the fireplace (see previous post), and, o' course, any traces of the Apple Studio are long gone. At the moment, in common with much else inside, it's just a shell:

This is a room at the basement rear, constructed during the 1980s:

Moving upstairs to the ground floor reception, bits of which may be glimpsed in a hundred fan photos of Les Fabs entering and exiting:

This room, despite having undergone substantial renovation itself, remains recognisable. Note the wall arches, still there albeit reduced in length (the black & white shots date circa 1969, the colour circa 2005):

A reception desk eye view, again black & white '69, but this time versus 2011:

The eagle-eyed will have spotted the sudden appearance of a fireplace in the contemporary shot (note the different coloured wood at the top of the surround - a modern replacement for the original section):

This fireplace (or at least the wooden surround) was moved to the reception in the 1980s when the back room where it originally sat was demolished. Compare back room (1914) with reception (2011):

Here's what replaced that back room - not particularly inspiring, and sad to say, it's the same story all over the house. The characterful original rooms have been supplanted by the blandest of functional modernity:

Returning to reception, another glimpse was afforded during LIB when the rozzers rolled up. The '69 pic shows how the other side of the room looked then:

Note the front door. Again during the '80s, for some reason a small pre-entrance space was installed. I'm glad to say this is being removed during the current work, thus restoring the room to its original dimensions:

To the left of the front door is the entrance to what was once Bag Productions, familiar from a million Peace-era J&Y interviews:

The door to the right of the reception desk leads to the rear of the building, and the main staircase:

Lovers of trivia may note: this is, in fact, number 3's third staircase, and replaced a much grander example installed in the early 20th century. The current one was there during the Apple era, having been put in circa mid-1960s, and is itself now being replaced:

We'll go up it as and when I can be arsed... Part 2 to follow.

West Malling: then & then.

West Malling airfield exists, as regulah readahs will know, only in the memories of those who have either seen (and can recall) MMT, or those who actually managed a visit to the place before it was swallowed by Kings Hill. Piet Schreuders, a master of the old "then & nows", falls into both categories, and he has very kindly allowed me to reproduce his photos (ca. 1988) for your perusal.
Thus - above the very spot where the Walrus sequence was shot. The slight difference in perspective vis-a-vis blast walls can be explained by contrasting lenses on pre-digital cameras. Note the pavings, and compare with the following:

The circular hole, effected in MMT, still there at that time:

And, o' course, the iconic blast walls, soon to be blasted:

Piet, who was visiting in the inestimable company of Mark Lewisohn, also managed to find the "I WAS" room, situated in a small building attached to the side of one of the hangers. Astonishingly enough, the very Union Jack, if a little on the mouse-masticated side, still in place:

Note the roof beams above, and the window below:

I would have needed a hand getting it into my etc:

Finally, the hanger itself, scene of YMSK:

And this:

The presence of one of the automotive stars o' MMT means that the rather interesting BJW sequence was almost certainly filmed in here too:

...of which more anon.
Many thanks go to Piet for generously allowing his pics to be used. There's more on Malling in The Beatles' London, which you really should buy immediately if you haven't already done so.
UPDATE: Looks like MMT will finally get an official DVD release on October 9, with a side-helping of tasty extras (unseen footage etc.). It's available now for pre-order on the US Amazon site, presumably with UK and others soon to follow.
FURTHER UPDATE: Official trailer now HERE... fairly exciting stuff it is, too!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Kenwood: more August, 2012

More new shiznit. The kitchen has been re-done (and, though it isn't evident from this angle, presumably retains the old front door, moved during the 90s):

The rebuilt sunroom is the same as before. Nothing much to see here:

Except...woah! On the very spot where John's beloved old couch sat, now sits something similar:

Proof of something or other on the part of the owner? Co-incidence? (But then, as we should all know by now, there's no such thing as co-incidence.)
Moving on to the first floor; directly above the dining room, and originally a bedroom, this has been converted to an en-suite for the adjacent master bedroom. Nothing remains here from John's time, apart from the floorboards and the window:

The master bedroom during the 1960s, and, after years where it served as a bathroom following conversion in the '90s, the master bedroom again now. It's a bit bigger than before, as there used to be a corridor here which has been co-opted to provide more space. The very spot where the famous photo of John plus bear was taken:

Out to the garden, and a contemporary view from John's perch (see posts passim):

The lower wall has been substantially rebuilt, though I'd guess the outer sections are the same, and that parts of certain features remain:

A bit more to come at some point.

Kenwood: August, 2012.

Kenwood is back on the market, and with it the chance to assess the latest post-renovation incarnation.
New windows, and substantial landscaping "pokery":

The entrance hall, and the first time I've seen the staircase, which has survived since the house was built circa 1913:

This whole area, once part of the kitchen, has been opened out to create more space:

The living room: original wood panelling still intact, as are the fireplace and the door through to the dining room, but the roof beams have gone:

Through to the dining room, which remains fundamentally the same as ever, decor notwithstanding. Note the door leading to the sunroom/kitchen area:

On the other side of the living room is the small sitting room, again recognisable, despite the new window and door:

The view from the sunroom, down to where the covered swimming pool now does squat at the bottom of the garden:

Asking price? 15 million pounds. It should be remembered that Kenwood has no listed status, and whoever buys it would, in theory, be able to "do a Kinnie" (ie demolish it in order to build another, even bigger house), something happening more and more often on St George's Hill these days. Which is slightly worrying, I suppose.
More to follow.