CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

We’ll re-build dome, says Koko’s owner

'I know we can reinstate it and we are working with Historic England'

14 February, 2020 — By Samantha Booth

Olly Bengough

THE iconic dome that melted in a major fire at one of Camden’s most celebrated music venues Koko is to be rebuilt, the owner has revealed. Sixty firefighters worked hard to save the main building at the Grade II-listed nightclub in Mornington Crescent last month.

Owner Olly Bengough told the New Journal the copper dome acted as a chimney, so the fire went up into the sky and acted as a “force field” protecting the theatre.

Speaking for the first time about the blaze, he said: “The amazing part was seeing all of the support, I thought that was incredible. You just see that London is a good place, it’s a community. Camden reached out, all my close friends did, some artists reached out. “Between all of that support, on the backdrop of something really serious, there’s something also very positive.”

Mr Bengough was abroad with his family when the first messages about the fire came in from his team, who he has praised for their response to managing the aftermath.

“The truth is it’s hard to digest,” he said.

“Of course it’s surreal, because you can’t just process something like that and believe that’s possible. I’ve had it for 15 years and in 15 years we’ve never had an incident, and imagine in 15 years looking after something like five to six million music fans and 5,000 bands.”

He added: “My vision of Koko was always this building which is run well and I’ve seen it in a very positive light. You couldn’t even dream you would see something like that, it was hard to take in. It really soaked in when I went around the building.”

At the time of the fire, the building was nearly a year into a major £40million refurbishment, including turning the dome into a bar, after closing in March.

Mr Bengough said it was too early to say when it will reopen, but they should have a better idea by the end of spring on a timescale.

He said: “The dome protected the fire from spreading so from the outside of the building obviously it looked like a huge fire; it was, but it didn’t spread to the theatre so we are really, really lucky. OK, there’s water damage and water damage is serious but it’s a totally different thing to an auditorium being burnt down.”

He added: “I obviously knew we could rebuild the dome, it’s iconic but I know we can reinstate it and we are working with Historic England and we will be sourcing the best materials, and our architects are great. In terms of long term, the building will be reinstated to how it’s always been.”


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London Fire Brigade said the fire is still under investigation.

A spokeswoman said: “Due to the damage caused to the building by this major blaze, fire investigators have not yet been able to gain the access needed to carry out their detailed investigations. However, we will continue to liaise with the venue’s insurance investigators to establish the cause of this fire.”

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