**Update 01/07** - To no real effect whatsoever, and in a far-too-late jumping on the Google Earth bandwagon, I've given you the latitude/longitude coordinates for each site, so you can *sort* of do the tour without leaving your house/flat/mansion/cafe. I wish I'd had a facility like that nine years ago...
In no particular order..
Wembley Stadium/Empire Pool or
Arena/Conference Centre (lat:
51°33'25.26"N long: 0°16'52.41"W)
historic Wembley complex, to the north west of London, comprises the
Stadium (right), which due to an extensive rebuilding programme is
slated to be demolished and rebuilt totally, the Arena and the
Conference Centre. The Empire Pool was renamed the Wembley Arena,
just in case you're wondering. Floydian interest is maintained by some
kind of related event occurring at all three places in the complex. In 1982 they
pretended the Stadium was the
Los Angeles Sports Arena for the purposes of the film of 'The Wall' and
shot scenes of an impatient crowd going haywire underneath the stands. The pan-galactic Live Aid at the
Stadium in 1985 saw only David
Gilmour performing, backing Bryan Ferry - sort of. His guitar failed to
make any appreciable noise at all for the first few minutes of the
opening number, forcing
an awkward exchange of instrument (and probably a heated exchange of
words too after the set was over). The
Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour in 1988 sold the Stadium out for
two nights, and nothing more to date has been heard of them. The Empire
(as it was called then, being a converted swimming pool for the Olympic
Games of 1948) saw a number of visits by the group, including their
first on 21st October 1972, a charity show for War On Want
featuring the new, exciting, soon to be released 'Dark Side of The
Moon' suite, the BBC Radio One broadcast of the by then long-since
consequently over-familiar 'Dark Side' recorded in November 1974
- just one date in a series of four for that winter's British
tour, and for five nights as part of the UK leg of the In The Flesh
tour of 1977. Ten years on and one name change later, Wembley Arena played host to Roger Waters' 'Radio Kaos' tour
in 1987. The
Centre was home to the first International Pink Floyd Fan Convention,
featuring the UK debut of the Australian Pink Floyd tribute band
in 1993. After a mere fifteen years, Waters stumbled by once again
his two In The Flesh 2002 dates at the Arena - which terrified many by
having Nick Mason turn up to lend a hand on 'Set The Controls For The
Heart Of The Sun'. At the back end of 2004, the Fender
Strat Pack Anniversary Concert was held at the Arena and featured
Gilmour and his serial-number 0001 Stratocaster guitar for two songs,
supposedly the last time it will ever be seen in public. Fortunately it
was filmed and subsequently released on DVD for us all to savour at our
*Update - 4/10/02* Against all reasonable odds, demolition of the stadium has actually begun. Quite a bit of what you see above has been destroyed already, so as an added bonus if you go there now you can watch them rip the shit out of it. I'm not sure how that sits with English Heritage preservation orders, but I rather doubt they're doing cartwheels of joy....
*Update - 30/11/02* Hmm. Despite my assertion that a lot of what you can see in the picture is a pile of rubble, it's not. The bulk of the stadium remains standing, although they're certainly doing something damaging within the building, and they've dug up the pavement in the foreground plus the car parks. So sorry about that. I blame my army of correspondants out there in the field - it sounds much more impressive than admitting it's my fault.
*Update - 6/12/02* Hmm - again. As I mentioned above, they were doing something damaging within the building. Too bloody right they were. The entire western end of the stadium has disappeared, and the flagpoles have gone too. The crowns on top (trust me this time; they really are crowns) will be the only part of the entire building to remain intact and extant - although where they're going exactly, I can't say....
*Update - 23/1/03* Hmm - no
longer. It's all gone.
Totally gone. Waste not our strength, for it has ceased to be. This
*Update - 29/11/03* Hmm
- once more. The new one's coming on nicely. Just thought I'd mention
Hmmm - that was a long break. It's largely finished now. It's been a
tale of woe, strikes, death, corruption and scandal in the meantime
though. Bits are probably starting to fall off already....
10/07* Bloody hell. Why
didn't someone tell me the Conference Centre was torn down in 2006, eh?
If I didn't know any better I'd think you were all trying to make me
look rather foolish.....
11/1/08* - Gilmour has said that
he's not been to Wembley Stadium since it was rebuilt, and apparently
didn't feel over-enamoured with the old one either. Oh well. At least
he revealed which venue does actually get his vote. I'll give you an
insultingly obvious clue: it looks like a big toffee sponge cake....
*Update - 4/11* - Well, well, well.....it would seem that the legendary (I use the term warily/advisedly/ironically) 1974 performance of 'Dark Side' is to finally be officially released as part of EMI's presumably last word on the legacy of one of it's biggest bankers, as part of a mammoth remastering/repackaging/archive plundering of things the band has previously refused permission to be issued or otherwise denied the existence of in the first place. Apparently they're even going to allow the first set they played that night to see the light of day too, consisting of embryonic versions of songs which would later be included on 1975's 'Wish You Were Here' and 1977's 'Animals' albums. Well, thanks very much! It's just a pity that the 'import' market has had such material (albeit of lesser, but not unbearable) quality at it's disposal for pretty much the last 37 years anyway......
London Arena (lat: 51°29'49.00"N long: 0° 0'55.21"W)
from the direction of east London as I do, I feel it's high time the
balance against the west and north of
the city was redressed. Before you ask, south London doesn't get a look
in. Even if 'Echoes' was nearly premiered at Crystal Palace Park. Going
that far south of the river just isn't on. Just ask any taxi driver
after 10pm. So, does
east London have anything to offer? Not really. There's a pub in
Dagenham near the Ford car factory, there's Waltham Forest Technical
College, but apart from that it's clear that Pink Floyd found east
London a harder audience than anywhere else in
England. Until the late eighties....east London's got quite
a unique place, as it goes. London Arena on the Isle Of Dogs was built
on the site of a demolished fruit warehouse, dating
from the days when Milwall Inner Dock (the expanse of water next to it
as seen above) was part of the busiest port on the planet. It opened in
1989, and in that same
year the band's rehearsals, a pre-tour press
conference and six nights for the 'Another Lapse' European trek all
took place here. It's also the only location I know of in London where
you can lay your hands
in the imprints of Gilmour, Mason and Wright. They're embedded in a
wall of fame, somewhere inside the arena. I've never managed to get
inside to see it personally. You could always have a go. Three years
later, in 1992, Roger Waters attended the 3rd International Music
Awards here. He was nominated for Media Event of the Year on account of
his 'Wall' performance in Berlin in 1990 and actually won the prize,
despite the concert's numerous technical hitches, breakdowns and
ill-judged choices of marriage between guest performers and the songs.
To see the place for yourself, one
needs to get to Crossharbour station on the Docklands Light Railway.
It's right outside the shed. There's no chance of missing it at all.
*Update - 20/6/03* Woe
is us: They're going to demolish it! Live entertainment allegiances are
to be transferred to the cavernous yet ill-fated Millennium Dome in
Greenwich on the other side of
the River Thames, and in place of the London Arena will be housing and
offices. Sources close to the Arena (alright, the newsagents opposite
reckon that they haven't actually been given planning permission yet,
so things won't be moving for a while. In any case, the place is now
closed, shut, and not open.
*Update - 20/3/04* Oh, sod it. I'll tell you anyway. That glittering prize I was on about inside, to wit the giant concrete plaque with the handprints, has been STOLEN. Yes, that's right - stolen. Nicked, half-inched, pilfered, swiped and stolen. I was there some months ago talking to a chap in the reception. The wall of fame has more than just Pink Floyd in it, obviously. It'd only be a brick of fame if that were the case. The concrete slabs that were used to host the imprints of the stars are comparitively huge things and aren't exactly light in weight. And earlier in the year, around June or July if I recall aright, someone seems to have executed a successful raid on a couple of the concrete plaques. Alas, Pink Floyd's was one of two that disappeared. The intention was and presumably still is to auction them off for charity after the Arena finally gets demolished - it's certainly the considered opinion of the two chaps I met in reception today - but some git on the inside or close by obviously foresaw or got wind of this and took action before anybody else could make off with the plaques of choice. Quite a daring raid, all said and done. The man I spoke to reckons that they'd have needed a van or something to move them out, as they're not something you can casually sling on the back seat of your average family hatchback, and can't imagine how they got away with it. As I say, PF's one is out there somewhere, and exceptionally hot property indeed. I suppose you're wondering whose mitts are imprinted in the other plaque that was nicked, aren't you? That one's even hotter - it's Mohammed Ali's. So, be warned: if you're down the pub one night and someone offers you a big slab with either two or six palm prints in it for a handful.....
*Update - 2/7/04* Well, I went back the other day - and they're still missing in action.
*Update - 25/12/05* It has come to my attention that on or about the fifth of October, the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, finally rubber-stamped the plans to redevelop the Arena. Thus, demolition will now surely take place in the early months of 2006. The building's final role is, as I type, a giant temporary drop-in centre for the homeless over the Christmas and New Year of 2005/6. Somehow, the national homeless charity Crisis managed to persuade Ballymore, current owners of the site, to let them use it as a makeshift facility to cater for the needy and disadvantaged. All good and worthy stuff, obviously - and not a little quirky in terms of degrees of separation. A long-term supporter of Crisis, and a current Vice-President, is someone called David Gilmour.....
*Update - 19/2/07* My eye *has* been off the ball. Apparently the building was comprehensively killed in June 2006 - a sad end to a troubled venue. And the few remaining staff within probably weren't too happy about it either....
|North Weald Airfield (lat:
51°43'13.04"N long: 0° 8'39.66"E)
Away with me now, to the rolling countryside and picturesque villageyness of North Weald. Eh? What do you mean, "sod off!"? I'm the tour guide round here, sunbeam - not you. Alright, alright....I admit it. North Weald is actually, if not strictly, rather outside the remit of this toilet of a website by dint of being nowhere near London. It's just inside the adjoining county of Essex. But - and it's a very big but - North Weald was, until about six years ago, still on the London Underground map. There really was a tube station here, on a fractured outpost of the Central Line. Granted, it was only by a quirk of finances in the mid-1930's that the single-track branch from Epping to Ongar via North Weald became part of the London Underground network. But part of it, it most definitely was. It is on this terrifyingly shaky and shudderingly boring pretext that I bend the rules a little and include North Weald Aerodrome. But why? Well, here lies the headquarters of Intrepid Aviation, whose motley assortment of flying machines is owned by a one David Gilmour. They live at Hangar 4 - this I'd forgotten, but luckily I took a picture of that one anyway instead of the numerous others. Having said that, there is another mutant toybox just behind number 4 and I presume that his planes sleep there - you can just make out what looks like a bit of a wing towards the rear of the picture. It's probably not possible to get any closer to the fabled Hangar 4 without incurring the wrath of on-site security, the control tower, people waiting to take off or land, or anybody else who wants to get involved. So unless criminal procedings and/or serious injury via incoming or outgoing light aircraft are experiences you yearn for, don't bother. I only managed to get as close as I did because they conveniently hold Britain's largest open-air market (so they say) every Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday on another part of the aerodrome. Buses to and from the faraway towns of Harlow and Epping are provided on market days. If you make use of these be wary of a jolly-looking driver who, if in charge of a Harlow bus, will maintain that the Epping one will be along in a minute. It won't. It'll actually next be along in a week's time, on the following Saturday. I bet he plays the same bastard trick on people wanting a Harlow bus if he's on an Epping one too. I'll let his fucking tyres down if I ever see him again....
*Update 27/10/02*....oh, isn't he a card? Apparently he *doesn't* own Intrepid Aviation anymore, nor any of the aircraft. And to think of all that effort I put in getting there and back. Luckily for me I was able to pick up a few videos on the day at the market so, in a spirit of retribution, I'd like to announce that they were all highly prized low-generation audience-shot bootlegs of Pink Floyd! Yah boo sucks to you, Gilmour!!!!!
Well.....I'd *like* to announce that that's what happened. But it wasn't. So damn you to Hades, fatso!!!
|Abbey Mills Pumping Station (lat:
51°31'50.94"N long: 0° 0'5.45"W)
Now I know I said that East London had quite a unique location in the shape of the London Arena. Obviously as it was demolished in the middle of 2006 it hasn't anymore, so that's put paid to any claims that the district might stake. Or does it? Well, what do you think? This one escaped me for many years, mainly because I'd been solidly convinced that what happened here happened somewhere else, namely the Tabernacle in Powis Square over on the More of the West and the North circuit. It all concerns a programme made by the BBC in 1968 called 'All My Loving', which mixed current affairs footage of the social unrest of the times with performances by, or interviews with, the prominent popular musical groups and artists of the day such as Hendrix, Zappa, McCartney and even Pink Floyd. They were seen performing 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun', standing on an octagonal balcony high up inside some kind of strange building. Not for long though, because after a few seconds the picture was all washed out in a reddish tint right to the end, obliterating any useful detail. As colour broadcasts were new and exciting back then, it looked pretty good if you had a suitable TV set. Those without probably stuck a Quality Street wrapper up to their eyes instead. Thirty-six years on, after numerous rebroadcasts (all saturated in red) we were still none the wiser - until a reel of film popped up on eBay claiming to be the original BBC footage before somebody in the edit suite launched their crimson assault upon it. Was it too good to be true? Unbelievably, no. The clip was finally revealed in all hues of the spectrum at long last, and as a consequence it became clear that it couldn't have been shot inside the Tabernacle after all. Instead it was all done here, at Abbey Mills Pumping Station in the industrial wastelands of Stratford, east London. If the story of the footage sounds remarkable, then the building it was shot in is more remarkable still. Built in the late 1860's, it was designed to pump raw sewage from the then new cross-London waste systems which terminate here, a good thirteen metres or so up from the underground sewers to the surface and eventually out into the river Thames where it killed all known marine life instead of humans. Obviously, being a Victorian-era building Abbey Mills is ludicrously decorative, ostentatious and opulent for its purpose - and therefore Grade II* listed by English Heritage. It was built to last, though: it was only relieved of duties in 1996 after a modern replacement was completed (which lives behind the old one) and even nowadays it's on permanent standby in case of extreme carrion crisis. Over the years it's also been misappropriated by other film and television crews - although I can't say if Pink Floyd and the BBC were the first. They might have been. Or they might not. I did ask Thames Water, but as my enquiry wasn't about paying them any money (owed or otherwise), they weren't interested. So there you have it - Abbey Mills Pumping Station. Taken a lot of shit in its time, it has. Still looking pretty good on it though, eh?
**Update 05/12** Well, that's interesting. Apparently the crimson assault version of the track wasn't filmed here at all - it was shot at, according to instigator Tony Palmer, the BBC studios at Lime Grove instead. Nor indeed was the red peril a post-production trick, but a technique done as it was recorded in the first place. Furthermore it wasn't even supposed to be part of 'All My Loving' to begin with, but was originally filmed as an insert for 'Twice A Fortnight', a ten-episode BBC music and comedy show featuring an indecently youthful Michael Palin and Terry Jones among others. Musically speaking Pink Floyd were in pretty good company; Cream, The Who, the Small Faces, Cat Stevens and the Scaffold also appeared. Anyway, the other three takes of 'Set The Controls...' on the rediscovered reel which didn't get splattered in carmine were *definitely* filmed here. Or were they? Palmer reckons he did it at "an abandoned power station somewhere in east London." Now, there *was* such a place roughly half a mile away in Bow, decomissioned in 1963 and left to rot until '68 when it was torn down. Maybe the times/dates all match up and it all happened there instead. Who knows anymore? Not I, but as this place still exists it'll do the job....
|Beckton Gasworks (lat:
51°31'9.68"N long: 0° 3'38.50"E)
Beckton Gasworks comes highly unrecommended - and not only because it doesn't even exist anymore. The scenes in the film of 'The Wall' which depict a school being razed to the ground as 'Another Brick In The Wall pt.2' plays out weren't, apparently, the ones originally planned. What was supposed to happen was that some riot scenes with skinheads clashing with the police would be the climax. Trying though they were to film successfully without serious injury or death (on account of the bona-fide skinheads seemingly not quite making the distinction that they weren't fighting real policemen), the footage was deemed a bit strong and mostly unused in the end. Those with more than a vague inkling of the film's history will be aware of the story of a supposedly missing reel which contained some rioting scenes set to the song 'Hey You', which never found their way into the released film either - until the DVD issue of 1999, when they were rediscovered and included as an extra bonus bit. So they *were* used - if they were in fact the very same ones which were rejected for 'Another Brick In The Wall'. They just weren't seen in their original place or indeed at all until a few years ago. Despite my poor efforts to uncover the truth it's still all rather contradictory and confusing but what is certain is that some riot scenes were shot, and at least two sources reckon they were filmed here at the disused gasworks at Beckton, in east London sometime in late 1981. So too, in fact, were the scenes of the school being set on fire I mentioned earlier - I suspect one of the gasworks' old office buildings or somesuch was used to represent the school, and torched under the supervision of the fire brigade. Today, there's no trace whatsoever of the once-huge gasworks save for a large slagheap seen here, which was saved for posterity and cunningly turned into a dry ski-slope in 1989 - which closed in 1993 after the slope started to....well, slide a bit. A replacement 'snowdome' (whatever that might have been) was supposed to take it's place, but it never happened. In the meantime, intrepid voyagers (alright, tresspassers) can still climb to the top and get themselves some rather good views of east London, Docklands and the distant city. If you don't believe me and don't think there was a gasworks here at all, I'd direct you to the James Bond film 'For Your Eyes Only'. Its spectacular opening sequence involving helicopter chicanery and the dumping of a wheechair-bound Blofeld down a chimney stack was mostly filmed here, before the industrial carnage was fully dismantled. Stanley Kubrick also had it in mind that it'd look rather like the Vietnamese city of Hue under seige, and so a lot of the climax to 'Full Metal Jacket' was shot here too. Should you wish to visit, then you need you head examining, plus carriage in the form of a Docklands Light Railway train to Beckton station. On arriving there, you should be able to see the slagheap-cum-derelict ski-slope-cum-building site sufficiently as not to need any further instructions from the inadequate likes of me....
(lat:51°31'38.40"N long: 0° 5'57.24"W)
Still with me? Good. Fade into an elevated view of London - or at least we so surmise, because the triple towers of the Barbican Centre dominate the background, and something looking like the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral is just visible on the far right. Otherwise, the entire vista is grey, damp and depressing. But that's late 1979 for you. Pan left slowly ninety degrees and down, to a small park and playground. Kids are running round. One of them stumbles, falls, and gets the shit kicked out of them. Ring any bells? No, I don't mean your own miserable childhood. I'm talking about 'Another Brick In The Wall part 2' and its promotional video. Wise men say it was, and is, appalling. I say balls to the lot of you, because I've included it anyway. This is King Square, named in 1820 in honour of George IV, and just within the boundaries of the London Borough of Islington. The church you can see is the rather busily-named St. Clement with St. Barnabas and St. Matthew, and the clock is always wrong. You'd think at least one of them could adhere to the saintly codes of practice and keep it in check, but alas not. The whole park has been remodelled since 1979 but, luckily for us, not beyond recognition. What has effected a turn for the worse since then are the extra trees; it's things like this that make taking a clear picture of the front of a church without an outrageously wide-angle lens an impossibility. Maybe I ought to do it all over again during the winter season, when the leaves have died and fallen off. Anyway, when the video was being shot it seems that they plonked the camera on the roof of the tower block that abuts the entire western side of King Square - Frank Butcher House, or whatever it's called. And so I was left with no option but to do the same and go upstairs too. Tragically I ran out of steam by the eighth floor, but as you can see it proved adequate. I've absolutely no idea *why* this location was chosen for the action - unless they were deliberately looking for somewhere with a good view, a playground and an adjacent church. But if not, just maybe it's got something to do with a small alley behind and a bit to the left of the church, called.....Mason's Yard. So, Nicholas Berkeley Mason: was this your idea? I think we should be told....