Hammersmith Palais

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Not to be confused with Hammersmith Apollo.
Signwriting showing the original name survives on the rear of the building

The Hammersmith Palais de Danse, later simply the Hammersmith Palais, was a ballroom and entertainment venue in Hammersmith, London, England that operated from 1919 until 2007. In 2009, the Hammersmith Palais was named by the Brecon Jazz Festival as one of twelve venues which had made the most important contributions to jazz music in the United Kingdom.[1]

The Palais occupied a large site on the A219 at 242 Shepherd's Bush Road, London W6, near the circular system under the A4 Hammersmith flyover. The area, one of London's key communication nodes, has two London Underground stations, a bus station, and the road network at Hammersmith Broadway.


The Palais de Danse opened in 1919 in order to host ballroom dancing and various kinds of dance bands, among which were the new jazz bands. Many of the famous jazz stars of the day appeared in concert there including American jazz singer Adelaide Hall, who performed at the venue for one week from 27 March - 2 April in 1939, accompanied by the Florida Club Orchestra. The venue's dance floor, made of maple, cost £5,000 to install and was advertised as being "England's finest £5,000 maple floor". It remained a popular dance venue from its start to the early 1980s, from then on hosting mainly live pop music acts.

For a period in the 1930s, part of the Palais site was also used as an ice rink, with the original London Lions ice hockey team using it as a base. During the 1960s Joe Loss and his Orchestra, with singers Rose Brennan, Ross MacManus and Larry Gretton, were a regular feature every night - except Monday nights, when records were played. Monday was known as 'Record Night' with no alcohol being served from the bar. (This was before the term 'discothèque' was coined).[citation needed] On 21 January 2007, the Palais was condemned for demolition. The venue closed in April 2007.

The Palais had a secret: it was used to make tanks during the war.[citation needed] It was also used as a tram-shed for London's trams. The rails for the trams were still under the floor, along with the pipes for the ice rink. Parts of the very well sprung dance floor had removable sections where one could clearly see all the tracks and pipes. During the 1960s and 1970s, the house bands included: Joe Loss, Andy Ross, Ken Mackintosh, Tony Evans, and Zodiac, a band still active in 2010 with at least three original members.[2] Many Saturday nights, in excess of 2,000 people would visit the venue. One of the features was a huge revolving stage with a band on each side (this also caused a number of accidents when microphones and stands were left on the revolve).

The Palais played host to countless artists; among them: Bill Haley & the Comets (1974), The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, The Cure, The Police, U2, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation, Hanoi Rocks and Kylie Minogue.

The venue was named in The Clash song "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais". Joe Strummer managed to get thrown out one Thursday afternoon for gaining entry without permission. It was named in the Ian Dury and the Blockheads song "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3". Michael Monroe's 1993-1994 band Demolition 23 recorded a track called Hammersmith Palais on Demolition 23:s self-titled album. The song is written by Michael Monroe, Jude Wilder and Little Steven. The song is a nostalgic description of the 1980s club scene in London. Bands such as PiL, The Cramps and Soft Cell (who played their "farewell" concerts there in January 1984) made the venue popular for London gig-goers.

From the late 1980s onwards, the Palais staged a mix of live music gigs, dance nights and private events. The venue accommodated the popular School-Disco club night, which subsequently moved to the London Forum in Kentish Town. Promoters Onyx Promotions championed Brit-Asian bands and DJs including: DCS, Heera, Juggy D, Panjabi Hit Squad, Premi, RDB, Rishi Rich and Xzecutive/San-j Sanj. The Students' Union at Imperial College School of Medicine frequently hired the Palais as a venue for student nights.

In its last years, the Palais was owned by a company called Barclub Ltd, controller of a chain of themed bars named Po Na Na. In the early 2000s, the company briefly renamed the club Po Na Na Hammersmith, but in recognition of the venue's historic reputation the original name Hammersmith Palais was reinstated. The Palais closed in April 2007, with Kasabian, Idlewild, and Jamie T among artists playing the last gigs there.

The final gig at the Palais was a performance by The Fall on 1 April 2007, a recording of which was subsequently released as the live album Last Night at The Palais.

BBC television made a documentary about the venue's history titled Last Man at the Palais. Ballroom dancer Lyndon Wainwright danced the Last Waltz at the Palais to conclude the presentation. It was first screened on BBC Four on Christmas Eve 2007.[3]

Following its closure as a music venue, proposals for the site included use as an office and restaurant complex, or a students' hall of residence. The Hammersmith and Fulham Council had been expected to rule on the proposed demolition and development in November 2009;[4] [5] however, on 27 October 2009, Hammersmith and Fulham council rejected plans to turn the Hammersmith Palais site into student flats. The full history of planning applications for the site can be found using the Hammersmith and Fulham Council Planning search facility, using 'Property Search' for 'Hammersmith Palais', which will show Unique Property Reference Number of 000034027971, where all the applications are clearly listed under 'Property History'.[6]

In July 2010, the Planning Inspectorate held a week-long Public Inquiry and rejected an appeal by a development company against a council decision to block a proposed development. The developers were London & Regional (Hammersmith), who were given leave to submit an amended application.[7][8]

The original building was demolished in May–June 2012. A new building was constructed on the site, and in September 2013 opened as a student hall of residence, advertised as being on the site of the Hammersmith Palais.[9]


  1. ^ [1] "Buckingham Palace hits right note with jazz fans", London Evening Standard, 3 August 2009
  2. ^ [2] Zodiac - Band, Orchestra, Singers
  3. ^ "Last Man in Hammersmith Palais". BBC Four (TV). 2007. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "White man's blues". BBC News. 30 March 2007. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Hammersmith Palais is set to be turned into student flats". London Evening Standard. 10 September 2009. Archived from the original on 6 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "Planning Application Search by Property". Hammersmith and Fulham Council. 
  7. ^ "Hammersmith Palais demolition appeal turned down". GetWestLondon. 6 August 2010. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Developer loses Palais appeal". h&f news. 27 July 2010. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Pure Hammersmith". Pure Student Living. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 

Coordinates: 51°29′44″N 0°13′27″W / 51.49556°N 0.22417°W / 51.49556; -0.22417