Sunday, December 23, 2007

The State sold to Christian Group

The Rank Organisation have sold The Kilburn State to the Trustees of The Ruach Inspirational Church of God (Ruach Ministries Christian Centre, 122 Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RS). For a taste of what to expect, see:

This outcome is disappointing to those who hoped that The State would be put at the disposal of the entire community, and not only evangelical christians. However, it will be up to the rest of us to ensure that the new owners preserve the integrity of the building, and to encourage them to make the place available for open days, and make some of The State's rooms available for other community events.

Historical note: If any Kilburn residents are experiencing deja vu at this point, it is because we have been here before with The Kilburn National: "First known as the Kilburn National Ballroom, then later as the Kilburn National Club, the National, with its distinctive dome, has played host to hundreds of major rock bands, from The Smiths to Nirvana to Blur. There was even a short-lived music television programme broadcast live from the place in the 1980s. In 1999 it was closed down after long legal battles over noise levels, and was converted into an evangelical Church." (From the BBC.) You may also remember that the church was closed down in 2002 after a Charity Commission investigation into financial improprietry, and the pastor involved was subsequently convicted of sex attacks. (See Receivers sent in to church; Pastor convicted of sex attacks; and Wife of sex case pastor still living high life).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Candlelit Vigil for The State

There will be a candelit vigil to mark the 70th anniversary of the opening of the Kilburn State, from 7.30pm, on Thursday 20th December (outside the front entrance to The State, on Kilburn High Road).

The vigil -- part of the "Save the Kilburn State!" campaign -- will help to protect the iconic building from property developers and ensure that it is reopened for community use.

Come along to help raise the profile of the campaign, and to encourage more people to sign the ever-growing petition.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ronnie Wood Helps Save the State

Ronnie Wood (The Rolling Stones, The Faces) is supporting the campaign to Save the Kilburn State! In a message posted on his blog, he says: "HI EVERYONE PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION TO SAVE THE KILBURN STATE THEATRE WHERE THE NEW BARBAIRANS GIG WAS ALL THOSE YEARS AGO. THANK YOU -- RW."

It turns out that Ronnie recorded an album -- The First Barbarians Live From Kilburn -- live at The State in July 1974. "I feel very sentimental about this gig as it was an amazing time of my life, working with all those amazing musicians for those two nights after completing my first solo album," he writes.

Ronnie also played at The Faces' last ever gig -- Rod Stewart and Faces: The Final Concert -- at The State, in December 1974.

Wonder what it sounded like? There's a bootleg of "I'd Rather Go Blind" from the gig available here (search for 'Kilburn'). (You can hear Keith Richards, who played at both gigs, being thanked at the end.) And to hear what The Faces were like during this period, check out these live versions of Stay With Me, Maggie May, and Maybe I'm Amazed.

Who knows, perhaps The State will one day host a Faces re-union... ?

The State: Taking a step back in time

The Kilburn Times has published an article looking at the history of The State (including a picture of The Rolling Stones backstage).

For more details, click here.

A Second Chance for The State?

Commenting on recent events, Cllr Anthony Dunn had this to say:

"It appears that the sale to the Bahrainis has fallen through, but only after they had paid a substantial non-refundable deposit. It became apparent to them (possibly arising out of the comments made by local politicos and residents) that they would not be able to turn The State into flats. Consequently, they declined to complete on the deal and forfeited their cash which may well have amounted to over £100K. That is now paying for 24/7 security cover, for ad hoc repairs, and for the Wurlitzer organ to be maintained.

RankMecca are now marketing the place again and there are several interested groups. It has separately been suggested to me that the Museum of the Moving Image (formerly on the South Bank) is looking for a new home and that the Bradford based National Museum of Photography, Film and Television is also looking for a southern base. What is required is for someone to approach them and the National Lottery Heritage fund to see whether there is any mileage in any of this. The place would make a magnificent film and theatre related venue once more. Unfortunately, RankMecca continue to be extremely aloof and difficult to contact about their intentions.

With Cllr James King from Kilburn (Camden), I have written to the lead members for Planning and Regeneration on both sides of the Kilburn High Road asking for Camden and Brent jointly to get involved and make these contacts with MOMI and NMPFT plus the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Watch this space."

Proposed sale falls through

Good news! The sale of The State to property developers has fallen through. The Kilburn Times reported on 28th September that:

"[T]he sale, scheduled to go through with a mystery developer on September 12, failed to materialise. A Rank spokeswoman said: "The purchasers defaulted on their contract to buy and the property is now being re-marketed." The controversial sale attracted concern from residents who fear the historic building may be snapped up by property developers. . . . Because of its Grade II status, any development of the building must guarantee a community, arts and culture, retail or entertainment use and include the separate redevelopment of the former cinema building in Willesden Lane. Cllr Anthony Dunn, for Kilburn, said: "I just hope that Rank ensures that whoever comes along as a potential purchaser in future fully understands the history of the building and its role in Kilburn life over the decades, and that any proposed development is in keeping with and respects that history." Residents are encouraged to write to Brent Council ( urging them to ensure that the Grade II listing is preserved."

For the full story, click here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Double top!

The Petition to "Save the State!" now has over 200 signatures. Keep those signatures coming!

Camden Council Signals Support

Cllr James King (Kilburn Ward, Camden Council) raised the campaign to Save the Kilburn State at a Full Meeting of Camden Council in September. The Campaign (and petition) was then mentioned in a story in the Camden New Journal.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The petition tops a ton!

The Petition to "Save the State!" now has over 100 signatures. Take a moment to review the comments, and be sure to keep sending the link to your friends and colleagues.

Local Liberal Democrats support the campaign

Local Liberal Democrats, including Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP, have voiced their support for the campaign to Save the State.

In their 'Focus' leaflet, delivered to local residents, they pledge to "support the campaign to protect the historic Kilburn State building, including the amazing internal architecture and the unique Wurlitzer organ, which is still in working condition". They also encourage residents to write to Brent Council ( "urging them to ensure that the Grade II listing is preserved and that the wurlitzer is maintained in working order whilst the building is closed and empty"; and also to write to the Kilburn Times "to raise the profile of the campaign to save this building" (

Note that the Liberal Democrats, in coalition with the Conservatives, are currently in power in Brent, and are thus best placed to act to Save the State.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

We make the front page!

The Kilburn Times has run another story on the campaign to save The State: Engstrom, J. (2007, 6 September). 'In a State/Fears for bingo hall's future'. Kilburn Times, p. 1.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kilburn Councillors Support The State

The campaign to Save The Kilburn State has secured the support of all three Kilburn Ward councillors.

Here's what they had to say:

Cllr Mary Arnold: "We must make sure that the Kilburn people's aspirations for the Mecca State are achieved and that the old State cinema is brought back into use giving access for people in the community. Brent Council has defined the building for entertainment and leisure, an opportunity to regain the cultural leading edge for performance and local skills together with fine architecture in the High Rd."

Cllr Anthony Dunn: "Hosting one of, if not the largest Wurlitzer organ in the UK, the Kilburn State is a rare architectural gem in the area. There is no way that the local authority is about to accede to any request to change the planning designation of the Kilburn State, accept any attempt to revoke its Grade II* listed status or allow it to be demolished to make way for more housing. Any potential purchaser should be fully aware of this. Why not use the place for the purpose for which it was built: entertainment."

Cllr Derek Jackson: "As a Kilburn Ward Councillor I feel strongly that this unique building should remain."

The campaign thanks them for their support.

Campaign Update

Since the campaign to "Save the State" started two weeks ago, it has prompted:

1. Three local councillors (Mary Arnold, Anthony Dunn and Derek Jackson) and an MEP (Sarah Ludford) to take up the issue;
2. The Kilburn Times to run a story (Sam-Daliri, N. (2007, 23 August). 'The Empire that can't fight back'. The Kilburn Times, p. 7.);
3. Brent Planning Department to send a photographer to the building to catalogue its listed features;
4. And the Kilburn Town Centre Manager to alert local police and Street Care officers, and advise them to pay special attention to the building while it is empty.

So far so good. But the future of The State is still uncertain. So keep your ears to the ground, your eye on the blog... and hold your elected representatives to their promises to Save the State!

The Empire that can't fight back

The Kilburn Times ran a story on the closing of The State last week: Sam-Daliri, N. (2007, 23 August). 'The Empire that can't fight back'. The Kilburn Times, p. 7.

Where is The Kilburn State?

The address of The State is:

197/199 Kilburn High Road

Find it here on Google Maps:,-0.197496&spn=0.00702,0.013604&z=16&iwloc=addr&om=1

"Save The Kilburn State!" Petition

The Petition to Save the Kilburn State is up and running. Click here:

Background information on The State

For more information on The State, see:

For photos of The State, see:

Save The Kilburn State!

The Kilburn State is under threat!

When it opened in 1937, The Kilburn State -- a Grade II* listed building -- was the biggest auditorium in Europe, with seating for 4,004 people. Since then, The State has played host to a galaxy of stars -- The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, George Formby, Deep Purple, and many many more. And for the past 20 years, The State has been run by Mecca Bingo.

But now Mecca is selling up. The State is closing, and its future is in the balance.

There's a serious danger that The State could fall into the hands of unsympathetic property developers, who will deliberately allow the The State decay, and then, when it is beyond repair, tear it down to build flats.

Don't let The Kilburn State be destroyed! Join the campaign to return it to its former glory as a vibrant cultural centre in the heart of London.