As the go-to place for all the glamorous folk in London (and further afield) the West End has always had a certain appeal when it comes to a big night out. We’re going to look back a few years now and head up West to Hatchetts Playground & Restaurant – the place to be seen in the late 60s.
As historic buildings go you’d do well to find one with more history than 67a Piccadilly. Originally built in 1703 as Hatchett’s Hotel and the White Horse Cellar (the pub below the hotel) it has been mentioned in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and was one of the original departure points for horse-drawn coaches heading out to the West Country and also one of the first places to cause traffic jams in London – it was known at the time as the ‘Piccadilly Nuisance’. The next two and a half centuries saw it continue as a hotel and hostelry but the post-WWII malaise saw it fall on hard times and it wasn’t until entrepreneur John J. Marks acquired the leasehold in 1966 that its revival started. He hired the services of local architect Lucas Mellinger and set about creating his vision for a nightclub and restaurant. Two years later it re-opened under the name Hatchetts (the apostrophe was misplaced somewhere during the redevelopment) resplendent with an under-lit glass dancefloor (quite something at the time) and silver walls – it was the very epitome of sixties cool.
The great and the good from swinging sixties London spent many a groovy night there with the likes of Emperor Rosko on the decks and with bands playing every night including Edwin Starr, Status Quo, Amen Corner, Georgie Fame and Alan Price. The Beatles and Rolling Stones used to hang out there, the cast of Hair wigged out there (presumably fully-clothed), Lemmy used to drink there and Keith Moon (not unpredictably) got thrown out of there. The good times continued for 10 years until 1978 when developers, who’d been knocking on the door for three years or so, finally got their own way.
Have a look at this great selection of photos from Jonathan Marks’ archive and special thanks from all here for allowing us access. Also Thanks to Daniel Smith for the heads up on this.
VoEA Meteorological Trivia Fact: The reason the expensive areas in most large cities in the UK are situated on the west side of town is because the prevailing winds are generally westerly or south westerly and so all the smoke and pollution from the city would be blown in an easterly direction thus avoiding the west end.