Friday, 19 February 2010

Should Abbey Road Studios be a National Trust treasure?

UPDATE 23rd February

It has just been announced that Margaret Hodge has agreed to the spotlisting of Abbey Road Studios at Grade II.  HOORAY! 

Thanks to English Heritage, here's the full listing description:

Now Minister, how about all that backlog of listing recommendations (and delisting challenges...) you have still to decide?

UPDATE Sunday 21st Feb EMI now says it won't sell Abbey Road Studios:

That still leaves, however (see below) the matter of the listing recommendation made by English Heritage to the Secretary of State in 2003; it would be a great pity if this was not now acted upon...

Apologies for the gappy blogging, there's a great deal to catch up on but I'm not feeling my usual ebulliently (over) wordy self at the moment so here's a brief one.

Abbey Road Recording Studios is under threat. The National Trust has asked for views on whether or not it should attempt to 'save it for the nation'.

For anyone who has been marooned on a desert island for the past fifty years this may be a cause of some surprise, but the Trust has moved with the times and feels this could be added to its property holdings in order to safeguard its historic and cultural significance. The Trust owns the childhood homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and there is of course the Beatles connection with  Abbey Road.

In the Trust's own write (sorry about that, small Beatles pun for the uninitiated):

An astonishing outpouring of public emotion has greeted the reports of a plan by EMI to sell the Abbey Road recording studios, with many calling on the National Trust to campaign to save the iconic studios for the nation.

On hearing of EMI's plan, listeners to the Chris Evans show on BBC Radio 2 and to BBC Radio Five live contacted the programmes to urge us to take on the property made famous by the Beatles' Abbey Road album. A possible role for the Trust was suggested on the radio when presenter Chris Evans and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney both raised the prospect of support from the National Trust. Their proposition triggered an immediate reaction from listeners, with many emailing support for the idea. The public have also been adding their voice on Twitter.

'It's not often that the public spontaneously suggests that we should acquire a famous building”, said a National Trust spokesman, “However, Abbey Road recording studios appear to be very dear to the nation’s heart - to the extent that we will take soundings as to whether a campaign is desirable or even feasible.'

We're asking you to let us know whether you think the studios should be saved. No price has been put on the building in the affluent St John’s Wood district of North London, but there has been speculation that it could be worth between £10 million and £30 million. If there is enough momentum, we may launch a campaign to save the studios.

Our Director General, Dame Fiona Reynolds, took time out to talk about the campaign and ask the world what they thought on the Chris Evans show on BBC Radio 2.

That short section of radio broadcast from yesterday can be heard here:


and the Trust is asking people to log on to its website and vote here:

English Heritage has made the following statement:

Abbey Road Studios

We applaud the public enthusiasm and support for safeguarding the future of the Abbey Road Studios and call on Ministers to turn their attention to the advice that we provided in 2003 and endorse our recommendation to list the building at grade ll.

English Heritage believes that the Abbey Road Studios possess outstanding cultural interest as the world's earliest purpose-built, and still the most famous, recording studios. Its importance as the leading force in popular music is perhaps greater today than ever and is revered internationally.

Listing would recognise that the building is special – it is not a tool to frustrate change or even a possible sale, but will mean that any decisions affecting the building’s future would need to be considered very carefully.

We welcome the National Trust’s exploration of options regarding a possible acquisition.

Unfortunately, the current crop of politicians at the DCMS appear not to have a great deal of understanding  of listing and its benefits; however, no doubt a few e-mails to the Minister Margaret Hodge at the DCMS wouldn't come amiss.

Beatles 1969 album cover Abbey Road

Apologies to readers for this link which (red alert) is to a Daily Mail story today,  in which it claims that Andrew Lloyd Webber is promising his millions to help buy the studio:

so there is hope.

For those who are unaware of the Beatles (pictured above) phenomenon (a once popular beat combo M'Lud) then this past post may or may not bring some enlightenment, and amusement:


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