Saving The KPH

About two years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to The KPH pub in Ladbroke Grove, London. We went along, drank wine and ate their amazing pizza. Now, this week, The KPH might be closing its doors forever.

By the end of my first visit I’d completely fallen for this beautifully shabby watering hole. The KPH is a long standing independtant pub and music venue. It has a gorgeous function room upstair that they call the Theatre with a small stage at one end and peeling flowery wallpaper behind. Colored arm chairs and ancient oak furniture line the edges of the room and the acoustics are expectional by music venue standards, big or small. Tom Jones played his first London show here and musicians and performers have used this place as a home to nurture their talent and beguile their audiences.

Unfortunately for the West London community, The KPH has been fighting an exhausting and bitter battle against developers who want to rip it out and squeeze the building for all of its profit making potential. Ladbroke Grove is a property hot spot and places like this are being bought up and used like money catching fishing nets. This is coming at a great cost to the community. More and more I see news articles stating the death of another small music venue. The very day I learned that The KPH could be facing closure I heard, on the car radio, the BBC reporting that 40% of small venues had been forced to close in London in the last 10 years. This is down to a number of reasons: high rent prices, tough legislation and greedy developers all contribute. I can’t help but wonder what will be left for us when they’re all gone and what our music scene will look like.

This is just something that, over time, has naturally grown inside me and become important to me. I felt urged to do something, not only to show my support for The KPH, but to speak up in some way for small venues and pubs everywhere. I organised a gig and emailed everyone I could think of. We assembled in the Theatre room and myself and my two wonderful friends, Renetta Jane and Jamie Knox, sang with the aim to raise awareness and show how much the grassroots music community means to us. Whether it be the pub circuit or venues like 12 Bar Club and Madame Jojo’s (both now closed), each and every venue plays a vital role in the preservation of our musical heritage.

I was humbled by the response and it was no surprise to hear that so many people there felt the same as I do. No one wants these historic venues to close. There’s something here that we have to fight for, something that is so important to our culture and our music landscape. Places like The KPH are steeped in history. You can feel the past dripping off the walls: the lives that have intertwined here, the songs that have been sung, the conversations that have been had. All of this could be gone forever and London left sterile with no space for artists to perform and nowhere for ideas to be expressed.

I would like to do more shows like the one at The KPH. Let’s keep spreading the word. The bigger the conversation the better. Please share your stories and ideas! I’d love to get us all talking.

Doll x

Please watch this touching video made for The KPH

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