Just a short trip down the A12 from our offices here in Ipswich, to the east of London is The Roundhouse, Dagenham. Over the years The Roundhouse has played host to a number of famous bands – Queen, Status Quo and Led Zeppelin to drop just a few names. One which caught my eye was Derek & The Dominos – not for the Dominos themselves but the fact that their support act was Supertramp!
Of late the venue has fallen on hard times, ignominiously becoming a carpet showroom and a snooker hall for short periods of time. But now George Hand has taken over this architecturally unique and iconic venue with plans to bring back the glory days but, and probably more importantly, return it to its status as a hub for the community. The pub sits on the edge of the huge Beacontree housing estate, which when built in the 1920s was the largest public housing estate in the world.
You would think that with such a large local community a pub could thrive but a lot of factors contrived against it including legislation, noise issues and significantly the loss of Dagenham’s largest employer, Ford.
While talking to George it was obvious that he has a passion for this project and the community in which it sits, he sponsors local football and dance teams and plans to run boxing and darts tournaments at the Roundhouse. Then there is the Roundhouse Music Festival celebrating the rich history of the venue which in 2016 will take place on Monday 29th August in Central Park, Dagenham.
George has spent over £150,000 on sound equipment as part of his thorough refurbishment of the building which has four bars and “The Hall” where the music happens. A pint will cost you £2.50 during the week and £3 when there is music on but there is no cover charge.
With so many pubs closing it is good to be able to write a piece about a re-opening, especially when that pub has such a rich musical history, and where the owner wants to revive that culture not cash in on it.
The re-opening of this much loved venue takes place on Saturday 19th March. That is close enough to St Patrick’s Day and so will feature the Irish group The Dublin Legends. Elsewhere we had a chat with Gerry O’Connor of The Dublin Legends. His dream gig would be to play alongside Paul McCarthy or Bob Marley – in the meantime he’ll just have to put up with having played with Joe Bonamassa, Chris Rea and Albert Lee! You can read my interview with Gerry here.