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Future of West London’s Troubadour unclear as venue put up for sale

By | Published on Thursday 16 July 2015


Sounding all too familiar, another grassroots music venue is facing an uncertain future, in part because of a noise abatement order from the local council which restricted its operations.

The Troubadour in Earls Court, West London opened in 1954 and was a key venue in the British folk revival of the late 1950s and 1960s, though has remained a music venue ever since, and one of the few remaining independent coffee shops of that era still in business.

Its current owners, Simon and Susie Thornhill, who have run the café and venue since 1998, have had to put the place up for sale, citing tough market conditions and the aforementioned noise abatement order from 2012 as reasons behind their decision.

Simon Thornhill told the Evening Standard: “It’s got tougher and tougher. You see it happening everywhere with music venues struggling to survive. Everything is going up and up but people won’t pay more for live music”.

The restrictions put in place by the local council three years ago stopped the venue from allowing customers to use its popular garden area after 9pm. “There hasn’t been a huge amount of support from the local authority”, Thornhill added. “The noise abatement notice has really killed us. Before people wanted to live in a vibrant area with a lot going on, now its like they want to live in a dormitory zone”.

Of course, the Troubadour’s new owners might continue to run the business in its current form, though that’s far from assured, Thornhill’s comments a reminder that – while the live industry has boomed in the last two decades – it remains a top-heavy sector, with those at the grassroots struggling to break even.

The Thornhills’ run in with the local council is also a familiar story, of course. And while the precise circumstances are not clear, its increasingly common for new neighbours – who choose to move in next to a thriving music venue – to then cause problems when they decide they don’t like the noise.

As previously reported, the Musicians’ Union is lobbying for an ‘agent of change’ rule to be introduced in the UK, so that developers who plonk new apartments next to existing music venues have to pay for all and any sound proofing to avoid future noise complaints.