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Shempire re-opens after roof work is completed

By | Published on Wednesday 20 July 2016

Shepherds Bush Empire

The Shepherd’s Bush Empire is open for business again, and with a working roof and everything. By working, I mean it keeps the rain out. Not that we need that at the moment. With this sudden heatwave, it would actually be quite nice if there was a big fat hole above the auditorium to let in some fresh air. Typical, isn’t it? Roof falls in during the winter, you spend a fortune fixing it, the hole is gone, and then God sends a heatwave. But then God famously hates pop music. Especially when performed in Shepherd’s Bush.

Though please stop saying that the Shempire’s roof “fell in”, will you? “Contrary to reports, nothing collapsed, nothing fell in, nothing fell down or otherwise”, says the venue’s GM Bill Marshall. “During a routine inspection we discovered that an isolated section of our roof was in need of attention and it was a wise decision taken by our board back in December 2015 to start work straight away”.

As you may remember, that decision to start work straight away was taken just before a Courteeners gig was due to take place in December. It was initially hoped the building work could be done within a few weeks, but it ended up taking months, with a plethora of shows having to be shifted to other venues in London.

Thanking everyone for their patience, Marshall explained earlier this week that the work proved to be more time consuming than hoped because of the age and listed status of the building. “[The] repairs to the roof and its supporting structure had to be accurate and faithful to our original Frank Matcham design, as well as being safe, sound and secure”, he said. “We are extremely grateful for the advice from our many building experts and structural engineers”.

He added: “Most certainly a challenging project for all concerned due to our listed status, our roof is obviously one of the most important parts of the building. It was a major and intricate project that involved supporting the entire building structure from inside ‘up’, from recording every load balancing point to preserving the venue’s original early 1900s architecture and interior balcony facades”.

So next time you’re at the West London venue, please do look up, a lot of work went into that not-falling-down roof. Oh, and then move your head around and take in the rest of the splendour. “Being closed to the public for six months gave us a small window to address a number of other areas for improvement, which we hope you’ll take notice of next time you visit and we’d really appreciate your feedback”, says Marshall.

That includes rejigging the PA for better sound, giving the entire auditorium a thorough clean, uncovering some signage from the venue’s days as a BBC studio, better toilets and a better cooling system. So see, you don’t actually need a hole in the roof to get some fresh air into the building after all.

Useless O2 is still jamming its brand into the venue’s official name, though I suppose all that tel co dosh will be coming in extra useful now that Live Nation’s Academy Group has had to pay all those builders and such like, so we’ll let them off. For now.