metal talk
facebook
Type band name, album name, artists name etc here...
Search all our articles by typing band name, album name, artists name etc here...
news now
metal talk






  CHRIS DALE'S METAL MELTDOWN
LONDON VENUE'S NAZI PAST?
1st March 2012


chris dale

Pin It
Share |


The London HMV Forum (or Town And Country Club as it was) is a great rock venue in North London. I've seen tons of top gigs there including Dio, Anthrax, Queensryche, Mr Big, Living Colour, W.A.S.P and Motörhead. It's a great venue with a lot of history, and it's one particular aspect of this history that especially started to interest me.


The Kentish Town HMV Forum

One of the rumours that has been doing the rounds for a while (I've heard at least half a dozen variations of it, one from Scott Ian of Anthrax onstage at the Forum) is that the venue was built in the 1930s for Oswald Mosley's British Fascists. Sometimes it is said that the venue was built for Adolf Hitler himself. Here's one version of the story I found posted anonymously online:

"The true reason why the Forum in Kentish Town was actually built. It is quite common knowledge that not only is it one of the greatest music venues in London but it was built by Nazi facists, though this information is quite well hidden, and was originally built for the final destination of Adolf Hitler's tour. If you have ever been inside it is plainly obvious by the decor of huge eagles and the depiction of Roman battle scenes which were associated with the Third Reich.

"Also I have been informed that it wasn't that long ago that the swastikas that lined the walls either side of stage were removed but the whereabouts of them now are unknown. As well as this it has been said Moseley had a bit to do with its building. There is a sister building to it in south London.

"I do not have a great deal of information on the whole building's association with its reason for being built and the information I do have is quite patchy as this piece of history has seemed to be well buried. If anyone has anymore information on this subject please post it on this site and stop them from turning this valuable information into an urban myth and making the people believe it was originally built as a cinema."

Despite his occasional typo error, he is right about some things at least. There are certainly neo-Roman columns and big eagles on the inside of the venue.


The interior of the Forum. Note the Roman Eagles on the left

And as the blogger says, some people are trying to make us believe the venue was built as a cinema. The Forum's official website says: "The Forum was originally built as an art deco cinema in 1934 by Herbert Yapp... the architect was J Stanley Beard and the interior design was by his partner WR Bennett. The Forum was launched with a grand opening ceremony of music and films, conducted by the star Sydney Howard, on 17th December 1934."

So which is true? Has there been an official cover-up of the venue's sinister past? Was it built for Blackshirts or for black and white movies? The first point to look at is, was this "the final venue for Hitler's tour?"

Reading around a bit, we find that unlike modern Heavy Metal bands, Hitler didn't do 'tours'. No, he stayed in Germany hatching evil plans. When he met with foreign leaders, such as the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in Munich in 1938, they came to him, not him to them.

He never travelled outside his conquered or closely allied territories and wouldn't have done very well as an orator in North London anyway because he didn't speak English.


Adolf Hitler and the Nazis

Besides, in early 1934 when the foundations for the Forum were being laid, Hitler was not yet the German head of state, nor was he an ambassador, foreign minister or in any other position that might warrant a trip abroad. From 1933 he held the title of Chancellor. He only became Führer (or leader) on the death of President Hindenburg in August 1934, and then became suddenly very busy at home silencing political opponents and persecuting minorities.

He did not plan a visit to Britain in the mid 1930s.

But what about the "decor of huge eagles and the depiction of Roman battle scenes which were associated with the Third Reich".

He's right that there are huge Roman eagles adorning the walls. But looking into Third Reich or Nazi German artwork we don't tend to see any Roman style figures. This is because Nazism, as a form of extreme nationalism, focused on the glories of the master race (i.e. themselves) rather than that of their neighbours. Mussolini's Fascists in Italy made the most out of Roman glories but not Hitler's Nazis.

The Nazis loved Wagner's Germanic heroes- Lohengrin, Tannhäuser and Walther von Stolzing. There are no Wagnerian themes in the Forum.

Our online source says that "it wasn't that long ago that the swastikas that lined the walls either side of stage were removed but the whereabouts of them now are unknown". I have to doubt that bit. I find it hard to believe that during the Second World War, Londoners put up with Swastikas on the wall of their weekly Saturday morning cinema while they were being subjected to the Blitz air raids from Nazi Germany.

There's also no reference to these swastikas in any other sources I've found and you really would think that large Swastikas in public would provoke some comment from somebody.

I think we're going to have to dismiss the Hitler story both from lack of firm evidence and general implausibility. It just wasn't his style or that of Londoners.

But maybe as our anonymous online source says there was a Blackshirt connection and that is how the Hitler story started. For those of you who don't know, back in the 1930s politics was a little more extreme than today's middle of the road squabblers. Rather than battling for the centre ground as our Eurocrats and US political candidates do, back in the 1930s the cool thing to do was align oneself with extremists in the left and right.

Stalin's Russia was extreme left, Mussolini's Italy was extreme right and both were effectively violent dictatorships. Spain had a civil war between extreme right and extreme left. The right won.

Most countries had legitimate Communist and Fascist political parties. Britain had the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and Sir Oswald Mosley's Fascists, or Blackshirts as they were known after the colour of their uniforms. Both were seen as threats to the country's stability by the mainstream parties.


Oswald Mosley and the Blackshirts

Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Baronet of Ancoats, had been the youngest member of Parliament to take his seat in 1918, standing for the Conservative Party. After several terms in Parliament, first as a Conservative, then an Independent and then in the Labour Party he grew disillusioned with mainstream politics and formed his own party which became the British Union of Fascists.

The BUF advocated ideas such as eliminating the existing British class system, promoting pacifism, keeping closer ties with Europe and forcing an end to party political bickering. These enlightened ideas hid a darker side and though the party was not openly anti-Semitic like the Nazis in Germany, violence and intimidation followed the movement from the very beginning.

Mosley's sympathies with Nazi Germany were well known. His second marriage was conducted at Goebbels' house in Berlin in 1936 and his first marriage in 1920 was attended by the Kings of Britain and Belgium. It is often forgotten that he was a very popular character at the time. Had he come to power however, we in Britain would undoubtedly have been under the grip of a totalitarian one party state allied to Hitler and Mussolini.

So was the Forum built as a Fascist meeting house thus inspiring a Nazi element to be added to the story? If this were the case, it would not be surprising that the venue would not want it mentioned on their official website. It's nothing to be proud of. But is it true?

Reading through several histories of Mosley's movement I can find no mention of the Forum at all. You would think if he'd built the place and given speeches there that it would turn up in his extensive biographies. The more I read into Moseley, the less it seemed likely that he would have built the place and this was for a very simple reason. He was just too popular for it.


A London BUF Rally in the 1930s

By the mid-1930s Mosley's Blackshirt meetings were held at much bigger venues such as the Olympia Exhibition Centre and the Royal Albert Hall. Sometimes he held rallies at large outdoor spaces like Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park. In 1934 Mosley had no need for a 2,000 capacity venue like the Forum.

So it seems from a lack of evidence to the contrary, that the official story of the Forum being built as a cinema is true. Indeed, this version is backed up by several cinematographic and local histories. Before televisions became common household items people flocked regularly to cinemas to catch the latest black and white blockbuster or just to see the Pathe news.

There was a great demand for new cinemas in the suburbs in the 1930s and Herbert Yapp was the man to provide them. He owned several cinemas already and commissioned architect J Stanley Beard and interior designer WR Bennett to build two new cinemas in Kentish Town and Ealing (West London not South London as our blogger heard). Beard was a well known architect, especially known for building cinemas. In all he designed over twenty cinemas and theatres in the London area. The Kentish Town Forum was opened with a night of music and films, conducted by Sydney Howard on 17th December 1934.


Programme for the opening night

The cinemas of the 1920s and 30s were places of fantasy. Before modern technology transformed our lives, these were the only places audiences could be transported in their imaginations to the Wild West, deepest Africa or Ancient Rome (as in the popular 1925 silent film, 'Ben Hur').

The interior of these cinemas, courtesy of Walter Bennett and other designers like him, were usually given beautifully imaginative decor forest scenes, fake pipe organs, battlements or in the case of the Kentish Town Forum, pillars and eagles, evocative of the glory days of Rome. Perhaps the very title Forum (the Latin name for an open square or meeting place) partially inspired the particular classical theme.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about decorating a cinema with fantasy themes in the 1930s. Next time you're at the Brixton Academy, ignore the band and have a good look around. That one's really spectacular.

But these rumours don't just start themselves. There must be some grain of truth, some tiny spark that the story sprung from. And I think I've found it.

After the Battle of Cable Street in October 1936 (immortalised by the Men They Couldn't Hang on their 1985 track, 'The Ghosts of Cable Street') in which the Blackshirts openly fought with protestors and the police, Moseley's fascists were banned from marching in East London. For their next march in July 1937 they chose a different starting point - Kentish Town. I wonder if it was outside the newly built Forum?

Could it be that the story of the Forum being a meeting place for Fascists started life simply as the Fascists met somewhere near the Forum? Add that to some decorative classical architecture and you've got the story that the Forum was made specially for the Fascists. From there its only a short step to Adolf Hitler himself turning up. It just goes to show what a bit of Chinese whispers can do to a small story.

I've listed my main online sources here:

Forum and Cinema History

http://venues.meanfiddler.com/the-forum/this-venue/history
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMV_Forum
http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6293
http://www.tnunn.co.uk/forum.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/woody1969/sets/72157602046085964/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stanley_Coombe_Beard

Hitler and Nazi History and Architecture

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/hitler.html
http://www.thirdreichruins.com/
http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERhitler.htm
http://forum.axishistory.com/index.php

Moseley and Blackshirt History

http://www.oswaldmosley.com/british-union.htm
http://www.20thcenturylondon.org.uk
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswald_Mosley
http://www.battleofcablestreet.org.uk/index.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzKv5gjOzTA

The Anonymous Blogger

http://www.knowhere.co.uk/Kentish-Town/Greater-London/London-and-inside-M25/info/musicvenues


I think his claim about HMV trading arms with the IRA to buy the Forum probably also has to be taken with a pinch of salt but as he admits, he's "been unable to confirm this as being true".

MORE CHRIS DALE'S METAL MELTDOWN COLUMNS HERE...

April 2015: Undiscovered Kisstory: The Kiss Drummer Auditions Of 1980
March 2015: Matthew Trippe RIP - The strange case of the man who would be Nikki Sixx
November 2014: Kiss: 'Love Gun' Deluxe Edition
October 2014: Mr. Big – Live Review at Koko, London
September 2014: Mr. Big: 'The Stories We Could Tell' album review
September 2013: Intensive Bass Course with Billy Sheehan
August 2013: Booking Agents vs Promoters
July 2013: Rock and Metal Pub Quiz
June 2013: Communication Tips For European Festivals, Or How To Learn A Language In An Evening
May 2013: Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013) RIP
April 2013: Daily Mail Columnist Richard Littlejohn Sinks To New Low With Anti-Heavy Metal Article
April 2013: The Future Of Classic Bands
March 2013: Smashing Pumpkins Video Shoot
Febuary 2013: Ten Years On Total Rock
January 2013: Kiss Follow Up To Monster 2013
December 2012: Kiss Reformation Magick
November 2012: Exclusive Interview With Geoff Tate
November 2012: Morally Worrying Session
October 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Review
October 2012: The Best Invention Of All Time
September 2012: A Conversation With Rudy Sarzo
August 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 3
July 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 2
June 2012: Scream For Me Sarajevo Part 1
May 2012: Managers v Producers
April 2012: Kiss 'Monster' Album Preview
March 2012: London Venue's Nazi Past?
February 2012: How Not to Join the Ozzy Osbourne Band
January 2012: Metal Evilution
December 2011: Take Your Pick Competition
November 2011: The Pandora's Box Of Pop
October 2011: Tank Tour Diary 2011
September 2011: Festival Stage Collapses
August 2011: Bruce Air, The Early Days
July 2011: European Festival Round-Up
June 2011: Bernie Torme Proud To Be Part Of MT Ozzy Article
June 2011: Who's Your Favourite Ozzy Guitarist?
May 2011: Japanese Tsunami Disaster
April 2011: 10,000 Tank Albums!
March 2011: Death Metal Session!
6th February 2011: Gary Moore (4th April 1952 - 6th February 2011)
February 2011: Recording Bass at Steve Harris'
January 2011: A Column About Columns



Pin It
Share |






 
heavy metal kids HEAVY METAL KIDS ANNOUNCE GARY HOLTON TRIBUTE GIG
The show marks the 30th anniversary of Gary's death. He passed away at the age of 33 due to his excessive rock 'n roll lifestyle...

jared james nichols JARED JAMES NICHOLS TO RELEASE 'HIGHWAYMAN' EP
The EP features the new single 'We're An American Band'...

michael monroe MICHAEL MONROE REVEALS 'BLACKOUT STATES' ARTWORK + CO-HEADLINE TOUR WITH HARDCORE SUPERSTAR
"It has all the ingredients of a perfect rock n' roll record - strong melodic songs with great meaningful lyrics that defy all clichés..."

turbowolf TURBOWOLF ANNOUNCE UK, EUROPE & US TOUR DATES
"Seeing all your wonderful faces, staring into those expectant eyes, and giving you all exactly what you're looking for, and maybe a little bit more..."

mike shinoda MIKE SHINODA'S FORT MINOR TO PLAY FIRST LONDON SHOW IN 10 YEARS
Shinoda will fit in these special one man shows around Linkin Park's European tour...

babymetal BABYMETAL TO HEADLINE WEMBLEY ARENA NEXT APRIL
Can't wait till April? Two new live DVD releases have also been confirmed for October release...

cats in space CATS IN SPACE ANNOUNCE THE RELEASE OF DEBUT ALBUM 'TOO MANY GODS' FOR OCTOBER 2015
Welcome to a new brand of Power Pop Rock from a band with a stellar CV...

nightwish NIGHTWISH TO RELEASE 'ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL' TOUR EDITION
The special edition is released on October 30th and comes with a DVD stuffed to the brim with bonus features...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN ANNOUNCE MASSIVE 2016 WORLD TOUR
The new Ed Force One will take the band, crew and over 12 tons of equipment more than 55,000 miles (88,500km) around the planet...

glenn hughes BREAKING NEWS: GENE SIMMONS' HOME SEARCHED UNDER WARRANT IN CONNECTION WITH CHILD PORNOGRAPHY INVESTIGATION
Police have confirmed that neither the Kiss bass player or any members of his family are considered to be suspects in the investigation...

glenn hughes GLENN HUGHES UNVEILS OFFICIAL PHOTO OF NEW BAND
Glenn hits the UK for live shows in October. "There is no greater high than performing and to reach out to my fans..."

gentlemans pistols GENTLEMANS PISTOLS PREMIERE NEW TRACK 'THE SEARCHER' ONLINE
"The song is about becoming apathetic towards things you once enjoyed and searching for where you are going in life..."

vreid NEW ALBUM FROM NORWEGIAN METALLERS VREID IS RELEASED IN OCTOBER
"This is the definition of our lives and heritage...the fire burns stronger than ever..."

napalm death NAPALM DEATH JOIN UK LEG OF "DEATHCRUSHER" TOUR
The Deathcrusher tour contains the very best in Grindcore...

blitzkrieg EXCLUSIVE: BLITZKRIEG RELEASE 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF 'A TIME OF CHANGES'
The classic album has been completely re-recorded and contains two bonus tracks...

w.a.s.p. W.A.S.P. PREMIERE NEW SONG - 'LAST RUNAWAY'
"The song is an intensely personal account of what happened to me, not only then but over the years and the success that followed after..."

nervosa NERVOSA UNLEASH NEW VIDEO FOR 'INTO MOSHPIT'
The band are currently on tour in the UK...

metal allegiance METAL ALLEGIANCE POST STUDIO TRAILER FOR 'DESTINATION: NOWHERE'
The track features Matt Heafy on vocals and guitar. A special launch show has been arranged to celebrate the album release...

uriah heep URIAH HEEP STAGE CLASSIC REUNION WITH CORE MEMBERS OF THE CLASSIC 1970S LINE-UP
Ken Hensley and Lee Kerslake are welcomed to the Moscow Crocus in October for the exclusive event...

rage against the machine RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE 'LIVE AT FINSBURY PARK' TO BE RELEASED
The free concert held after the success of the Christmas Number One campaign is now available in a quality package...

helloween HELLOWEEN ANNOUNCE LONDON FORUM SHOW FOR FEBRUARY 2016
"We feel pleased and honoured to yet again come to London UK..."

rammstein RAMMSTEIN UNLEASH NEW 'RAMMSTEIN IN AMERIKA' DOCUMENTARY AND 'LIVE FROM MADISON SQUARE GARDEN' DVD
The incredible package is immaculately filmed and bursting with content...

amulet AMULET LAUNCH VIDEO FOR 'BLOODY NIGHT' & ANNOUNCE TOUR DATES
Be preapred for a Heavy Metal attack...

guitar of your dreams MAKE'N MUSIC ANNOUNCES $3,250 GUITAR GIVEAWAY
Calling all guitarists - there isn't a cooler giveaway throughout the entire industry...

dan patlansky JOE SATRIANI EXTENDS EUROPEAN TOUR WITH DAN PATLANSKY AS SPECIAL GUEST
This part of the tour now encompasses 10 countries, 25 shows and 33 days...

tad morose TAD MOROSE TO TOUR EUROPE IN SEPTEMBER WITH SILENT CALL
The Swedish double bill celebrates the release of Tad Morose's new album 'St Demonius'...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN PREMIERE VIDEO FOR 'SPEED OF LIGHT'
The brand new track is taken from 'The Book Of Souls' double album due out on September 4th...

pentagram PENTAGRAM ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPE SHOWS
"We all are itching to perform some of our songs off of our new album 'Curious Volume' for you..."

born again BORN AGAIN - HEAVY METAL SOUNDHOUSE DAYS REVISTED AT THE BLACK HEART CAMDEN
Relive the glory days on the 22nd August with the best music around...

wildfire FIRST BANDS ANNOUNCED FOR WILDFIRE FESTIVAL 2016
Scotland's stellar Rock and Metal festival starts the buzz for 2016 with six quality names...

hotei HOTEI TO RELEASE DEBUT INTERNATIONAL ALBUM 'STRANGERS' ON OCTOBER 16TH
With an impressive range of guests, the world renowned Japanese guitarist and songwriter unleashes an epic album...

rich robinson RICH ROBINSON ANNOUNCES ACOUSTIC TOUR FOR SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2015
The Black Crowes' guitarist presents a stripped down, storytelling evening...

sonic syndicate SONIC SYNDICATE ANNOUNCE NEW BASS PLAYER AFTER THE DEPARTURE OF KARIN AXELSSON
The band premiere the new line up with the profound video for 'Diabolical Work Of Art'...

motorhead MOTÖRHEAD ADD EXTRA LONDON SHOW TO 2016 EUROPEAN TOUR WITH SAXON AND GIRLSCHOOL
We suggest ear-plugs and fortitude, because Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey are more intent than ever on showing at great volume that they are Motörhead and they play rock n' roll...

venrez VENREZ PREMIERE NEW LYRIC VIDEO AHEAD OF MICHAEL SCHENKER EUROPEAN TOUR
'Children Of The Drones' is the title track of the new album...

majesty GHOST PREMIERE 'MAJESTY' FROM FORTHCOMING ALBUM 'MELIORA'
Papa Emeritus III and his nameless ghouls will return to North America and Europe with a tour this autumn...

imperial state electric IMPERIAL STATE ELECTRIC SUPPORT GRAVEYARD & RELEASE NEW ALBUM
The release of Imperial State Electric's 'Honk Machine' brings their live show to the UK for the first time...

chantel mcgregor CHANTEL McGREGOR ANNOUNCES HER NEW ALBUM 'LOSE CONTROL' AND UK TOUR DATES
After four years of touring and festival appearances, Chantel returns with a vengeance with ten new songs...

lynne jackaman SOUL-ROCK SONGSTRESS JACKAMAN PERFORMS NEW EP 'NO HALO' LIVE IN LONDON
The show at Camden's Barfly on September 24th is set to be memorable for all the right reasons...

steve hackett STEVE HACKETT RELEASES THIRD REHEARSAL VIDEO CLIP FOR 40TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR IN OCTOBER
Preparations appear to be going very well indeed...

steve n seagulls STEVE'N'SEAGULLS ANNOUNCE THE SEAGULL HAS LANDED UK TOUR & NEW VIDEO
Anyone for hillbillified Iron Maiden...?

gentlemans pistols GENTLEMANS PISTOLS ANNOUNCE TRACK LISTING AND UNVEIL THE ARTWORK FOR 'HUSTLER'S ROW'
"A turbulent voyage of the sweetest sufferings and the most inexpensive of thrills..."

queensryche QUEENSRŸCHE REVEAL ALBUM COVER ART AND TRACK-LISTING FOR 'CONDITION HÜMAN'
The hard rock giants continue to thrill with their latest offering...

udo U.D.O. SAYS FINAL FAREWELL TO ACCEPT'S CATALOGUE
In a surprise announcement Udo Dirkschneider has confirmed that he will no longer play songs from the Accept library after one final tour...

operation mindcrime OPERATION: MINDCRIME REVEAL 'RE-INVENTING THE FUTURE', THE FIRST SINGLE FROM NEW ALBUM
The release from Geoff Tate's current project marks the first of a trilogy of albums...


metal talk
© All written site content is copyright MetalTalk.net 2008-2015, unless otherwise stated, and is not to be used without prior permission.
Ads raid data recovery