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A New Chapter for Study and Style in Shepherds Bush

A New Chapter for Study and Style in Shepherds Bush

Today Shepherds Bush is fast becoming one of the most desirable places to live in West London. Gentrification may have softened its edges to some extent but its heart still beats with a powerful and authentic rhythm, literally in the case of the legendary music venues like the Empire and Bush Hall.

Many other sectors of the arts have also thrived in this unexpected place.

Shepherds Bush tube station at the beginning of the 20th Century

From Silver Screen to Small Screen

Back in the early 20th Century, Shepherds Bush was still primarily an industrial district, but amongst the factories the hottest new trends of the entertainment industry were to find their home, among them the White City HQ of the young BBC. Before the small screen came to town the area housed an impressive Art Deco cinema designed by the prolific architect George Coles, which could house nearly 2000 patrons.

Around the same time three women’s trade schools, specialising in dressmaking, millinery, embroidery and hairdressing were merging into what was to become the London College of Fashion, later a college of the University of the Arts London. One of the campuses they were to take over from the Hammersmith School of Building, was, and still is, situated in Lime Grove in Shepherds Bush

A Tradition of Empowerment

The merging trade schools became a way for women of that era to empower themselves through their skills, and since its formation the London College of Fashion, UAL, has developed into a highly prestigious beacon of academic and creative excellence; boasting an impressive array of famous alumni including Jimmy Choo, Alek Wek, and Sara Dallin (of Bananarama!)

One student who came to Shepherds Bush from India, to study a BA (Hons) in Creative Direction for Fashion at the Lime Grove campus is Arthi Rangaraj. She is due to launch an alternative fashion publication this summer, called Plus Nine One, focusing on young creatives from south Asia and beyond. She states that she is “fiercely passionate about equal representation and empowering Indian women”.

So the international student community is now joining the area’s tradition of social empowerment.

Meanwhile at the Savoy

While the London College of Fashion and the BBC were on the rise during the late sixties, the dramatic fall in cinema attendance meant The Shepherds Bush Savoy building was on the wane. It was gutted and repurposed as a bowling alley, then as a Mecca bingo, until closing altogether in 1996, where it stood for 20 years as a grim monument to Coles’ grand vision at this busy entrance to Hammersmith and Fulham

However in 2016, HTA design studios and Tide Construction worked together to bring the building back to life as student accommodation, in a design lauded for its sensitivity, to both the area, and the original structure. With its newly installed state of the art facilities and vibrant social spaces, the student hall now known as Chapter White City is set to play its part in the future history of Shepherds Bush.

So the story comes full circle and this former Art Deco palace of entertainment is now to be the home of future generations of academics. With the London College of Fashion Lime Grove campus right around the corner, no doubt some of its occupant will be living, working and getting inspiration from this restored monument to the cultural and artistic heritage of this vibrant area.

Related Links:

- History of the BBC

- Guide to Shepherds Bush, Time Out

- About the LCF

Written by
Content Team
The Hallbookers in-house content creation team.