DJ Judge Jules reminisces over Clerkenwell’s Turnmills as it looks set to be demolished

PUBLISHED: 12:48 01 September 2011 | UPDATED: 13:43 01 September 2011

DJ Judge Jules at the Ericsson Musik Awards in London.

DJ Judge Jules at the Ericsson Musik Awards in London.

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Proposals to demolish the world famous Turnmills nightclub only a year after it was saved from a similar fate will be an “embarrassment” for the council if it gives the go-ahead, conservationists have said.

Legendary DJ Judge Jules has also spoken fondly of the venue ahead of an Islington Council meeting tonight (Thursday) where plans to destroy the iconic building on Clerkenwell Street, Clerkenwell, to make way for a 27million six storey block will be recommended for a approval.

The globetrotting DJ, real name Jules ORiordan, was a regular guest at Turnmills the first UK club to obtain a 24-hour licence before it shut its doors in 2008.

He said: It was a real shame when it closed two years ago, and now it is never coming back.

You can never take the memories away the chaos of the place was incredible. I also remember it having the tiniest DJ booth. I am from north London and have a lot of friends here, so there was always 35 people in a DJ booth that can only fit four.

History of the Turnmill building - timeline

1886 – Turnmill building erected as a warehouse and stables for the Great Northern Railway Company following the completion of nearby Farringdon station

1930s – Bought by Booth’s Distilleries and used as a wine store

1985 – John Newman, father of globetrotting DJ Tall Paul, opens Turnmills as a wine bar

1989 – Turnmills becomes the first club in the UK to get a 24-hour music license

1990 – Influential gay night Trade starts at the club. Opening hours are a hair-raising 4am to 1pm on Sundays

2008 - After 23 years and more than 3,000 club nights, Turnmills closes its doors with a flourish - Judge Jules, Tall Paul, Brandon Block, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Frankie Knuckles and Danny Rampling all at the three-day closing party.

2009 – Council reject a plan to demolish the building and replace with a seven story glass structure

2010 – Developers Derwent London appeal the decision, but it is upheld by the planning inspectorate

2011 – Amended application goes before the council – officers recommend it be granted

The building survived a previous demolition application in 2009, which was refused and the decision upheld on appeal last year, but now time looks to have run out for the well-loved venue despite opposition from conservationists and English Heritage.

Will Palin, secretary of Save Britains Heritage, said: This will be a terrible shame and an embarrassment for the council if it goes through. They should be standing up for buildings like this. People would miss it if it were to go, and not to protect it sets a dangerous precedent.

The Turnmill building is in the Clerkenwell conservation area and is surrounded by listed properties.

English Heritage said it was widely acknowledged to contribute to the significance of the conservation area, and that it is concerned about the impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area and the setting of the nearby Grade II-listed former Middlesex Session House.

In addition, local residents are worried the new building will be too large, ruin the character of the area and that small businesses currently occupying the building will be thrown out.

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