The Independent London Newspaper


Studios where Madonna and David Bowie have posed face demolition under developer’s plans for luxury flats and offices

Ian Shacklock at the studios with their Victorian chimney

Ian Shacklock at the studios with their Victorian chimney. ‘We thought that, after it got listed status, it would be the end of threats to knock it down,’ he said

Published: 9 January, 2015

ICONIC photographic studios on the banks of the Regent’s Canal – where Madonna, David Bowie and Cilla Black posed for the camera – face a new threat from developers.

Holborn Studios, lovingly restored 35 years ago, overlook Angel’s Packington estate. But they could be demolished to make way for luxury homes despite being in a conservation area and winning listed status just seven months ago. 

Originally Victorian ironworks, the studios have been identified as buildings of townscape merit. The site has a Victorian chimney.

Galliard Homes, which has bought the site for what is believed to be £11million, wants to keep the frontage and chimney, but demolish the studios, which would be replaced by up to 80 luxury flats and offices.

Described as “the Abbey Road of photography”, the studios have played a significant role in pop culture. 

Their profile is set to grow with a book deal in the pipeline showcasing some of the best pictures shot over the last 35 years. Ian Shacklock, chairman of the Friends of the Regent’s Canal, has joined a campaign to keep the studios, in Eagle Wharf Road, which employ up to 200 staff.

Gok Wan and Liam Gallagher are backing the studios

Mr Shacklock said this is the second time in recent years that the studios have come under threat. 

“We thought that, after it got listed status from Hackney Council, it would be the end of threats to knock it down,” he said. After the previous threat, One Direction, Gok Wan, The Saturdays and Liam Gallagher were among celebrities who offered their support for the studios via Twitter.

Mr Shacklock said: “Sadly, there’s a now a new plan currently out for consultation. We are vigorously opposing it on the grounds that it will remove a thriving creative business which is providing jobs, and ruin a scenic part of the canal.”

Vince McCartney, who set up what is now Europe’s largest photographic studio hire complex, said he would be extremely sad to have to vacate the site. 

“My family still run the studios,” he added, “And we don’t want to move.”

Another 20 companies have offices there, including the Daily Mirror newspaper, Open Fundraising and Norrie Carr child-modelling agency, along with computer games developers, film production companies, online fashion firms and PR companies.

Galliard Homes did not wish to comment.


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