London History: A Short History Of The Hammersmith Apollo London

In this article we are going to provide a brief history of the famous Hammersmith Apollo theatre in London and explain why it has achieved an iconic status among the capital’s arts and culture attractions.

A Thoroughly Modern Venue With a Great History

Originally opened in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace Cinema, the site now known as the Eventim Apollo has undergone much transformation over the course of nearly a century. Located in the borough of Hammersmith in West London, this stunning example of Art Deco design was envisioned by architect Robert Cromie, also famous for designing the Prince of Wales Theatre in Central London.

After becoming prominent for staging various productions in the first half of the 20th century, the venue was rebranded as the Hammersmith Apollo in 1962 and began building an extraordinary legacy, hosting performances by the likes of The Beatles, Bob Marley, and The Rolling Stones. Also intermittently showing film releases during this time, the final motion picture to be screened at the Apollo was in 1984, being Blue Thunder starring Roy Schneider.

The venue underwent yet another rebranding/spondorship in the early 1990s, becoming the Labatt’s Apollo for a period of time, before changing once again to Odeon. It wasn’t long, however, before the theatre reverted back to its familiar and popular Hammersmith Apollo moniker, and during this time it was also designated as a Grade II listed building by English Heritage.

No matter the name of the venue or the time period, one thing that has stayed consistent with the Hammersmith (currently Eventim) Apollo is the stunning Art Deco architecture and classical atmosphere. Over the years, certain refurbishments have taken place with a particular focus on maintaining the original period beauty of the theatre. A particularly prominent phase of refurbishment was undertaken by award winning architect Foster Wilson, in which ornate plasterwork was restored, historically accurate decorations were added, and two old marble staircases were revived.

After all this time, the Apollo remains one of the most prominent and high profile theatre venues outside of Central London and the West End. Some more recent performances have been given by the likes of musicians like Billy Joel, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and Paul Weller, as well as comedians like Jason Manford, Sean Lock, Jimmy Carr, and Russell Brand. The Apollo’s stellar reputation shows no signs of slowing.

Alex.muller / CC BY-SA