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Not your typical performance venue, the current Roundhouse only dates back to 2006. The site however goes as far back as 1846, when a ‘roundhouse’ – a shed for repairing and rotating trains – was set up. But after about a decade, the newest trains became too big for the Roundhouse to hold and it was converted into a gin distillery until the 1930s. It took another 30 years or so for the space to actually become an arts venue.
The trade union movement ‘Article 42’, with the mission of providing the arts for everyone, founded ‘Centre 42’ at the Roundhouse in 1964, and managed to attract the biggest names in music for much of the ‘60s and ‘70s, as well as notable theatre productions such as Oh! Calcutta! But by 1983, Centre 42 had run out of money and was forced to close; it was only in 1996 that the building was privately bought up, established as a charity and collected money until 2004, when it was closed for a massive £30 million overhaul.
And so, in 2006 the shiny new Roundhouse opened with the Broadway show Fuerzabruta, equipped with new light and sound technology, a youth centre, a skylight and everything you’d expect a theatre to have, including a box office, bar and offices. The Roundhouse has hosted alternative events like the BBC Electric Proms, as well as smaller scale awards shows and wide-ranging theatrical productions, from the basic traditional to the most experimental.