London Trocadero

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The London Trocadero is an entertainment complex in Shaftesbury Avenue, London originally built as a restaurant but most recently used as an exhibition and entertainment space.

Since at least the 1919s the Trocadero has been abbreviated to the Troc, and under that name it appears in a poem by John Betjeman.

The complex incorporates a number of historic London buildings, including the London Pavilion, that have in the past hosted the Palace of Varieties, the New Private Subscription Theatre, the Royal Albion Theatre, the New Queen's Theatre, the Argyll Subscription Rooms, the Trocadero Music Hall, the Royal Trocadero Music Hall, the Eden Theatre and the Trocadero Restaurant.

The name Trocadero indirectly derives from the Battle of Trocadero in 1823, through the Palais du Trocadéro in Paris, named after the French victory.

History

Opening

The Trocadero Restaurant of J. Lyons and Co. opened in 1896 at a site on Shaftesbury Avenue, near the theatres of the West End, which had been formerly occupied by the notorious Argyll Rooms, where wealthy men hired prostitutes. A one time maitre d' of the Trocadero was Belgian born Maurice F. Monbiot, grandfather of the journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot. His French born great-grandfather Raymond Monbiot was the Trocadero's restaurant manager.

The new settings were magnificent in an Opera Baroque style, and the various Trocaderos of the English-speaking world have derived their names from this original, the epitome of grand Edwardian catering. Murals on Arthurian themes decorated the grand staircase, and the Long Bar catered to gentlemen only. During the grim days of World War I, the Trocadero initiated the first "concert tea": tea was served in the Empire Hall, accompanied by a full concert programme. After the war cabaret was a feature of the Grill Room. The Trocadero closed on 13 February 1965.

Relaunch

In 1984, the Trocadero was redeveloped as a tourist-oriented entertainment, cinema and shopping complex. Providing Template:Convert of leisure space, it was the largest leisure scheme in the United Kingdom at the time; only being matched 19 years later by the similar sized Xscape development in Castleford.

It retained the external Baroque facade, but gutted the interior and added a Guinness Book of World Records Exhibition. But tenants were limited, and the half-finished development was eventually sold to Burford Group plc, led by Nick Leslau and Nigel Wray.<ref name="SunHld1">Template:Cite news</ref> Nickelodeon UK used to broadcast live from there from 1994 until 1996 when they moved to Rathbone Place, and the place received a boost in the late 1990s with the addition of sponsorship from Pepsi, and Sega as an anchor tenant. The launch of Segaworld, a large amusement arcade occurred on 7 September 1996, which included a large statue of Sonic the Hedgehog over the front entrance. Pepsi sponsored the Pepsi Max Drop Ride and from 1997 the Pepsi IMAX cinema, the first 3D IMAX cinema in the UK. It was also home to the second series of Channel 4's daily reality show The Salon.

However, resultant visitor numbers were poor, and the Guinness Records exhibition closed in the mid-1990s and following the loss of Sega's sponsorship in 1999, Segaworld became Funland and was subsequently reduced in size, and the Pepsi-sponsored IMAX cinema and Drop Ride closed around the same time. Remains of old attractions could still be seen around the centre, such as a wall with a gun-barrel motif that used to house a James Bond ride. The top floors were kept open until autumn 2002, when they were closed and the disused escalator was blocked off with a drinks machine. This was the original entrance to Segaworld when Funland occupied the lower floors. In October 2005, the centre was used as a backdrop for the final scenes of Madonna's Hung up video.

Redevelopment plans

File:Entrance to Funland November 2007.JPG
Entrance to Funland, November 2007

Criterion Capital acquired the Trocadero in 2005, and unveiled plans to comprehensively redevelop the site while retaining the listed facade. In 2009, a plan to build a pod hotel with 500 budget rooms inside the building was announced. A new plan for a 583-bedroom hotel including "pod rooms", apartments, shops and a rooftop bar was approved by Westminster City Council in August 2012.

The 'rocket' escalator was removed in May 2011, and what remained of Funland closed in July 2011. The locked entrance and a handful of left-over arcade games and attractions remain as of 2012 in a much quieter, emptier Trocadero centre. There are spaces at basement for street dancers. The venue will be closed for good on 25 February 2014, since the landlord has given the final notice. The closing of the centre will make way for renovation and plans to build the hotel will be fully under way by Summer 2014. Extra security will be on site to prevent dancers loitering, as before there were various problems such as noise pollution and chronic littering, devaluing the space.

References

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External links

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