After 84 years of bringing us generations of pop stars from The Beatles to Bowie and Beyoncé, the BBC is closing its world-famous studios.  

Not only have the studios hosted some huge names in pop music but they have also been a home to the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

This distinctive building is in a residential area and also contains asbestos, which dramatically increases the cost of refurbishment and has played a part in the decision to move.

Director general, Tony Hall, announced the closure on Tuesday and explains that the studios will be replaced with a brand-new, state of the art facility in the Stratford Waterfront development in the Olympic Park.

He said: “We haven’t taken this decision lightly. But we’re determined to ensure that live music remains at the heart of the BBC and moving to this new development gives us the opportunity to do just that.”

The site will contain recording and rehearsal studios as well as a purpose-built home for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chorus and BBC Singers.

It is expected to open by 2022.

The broadcaster has also promised to run music sessions in east London schools and partner with local education groups on other music projects.

James Purnell, the BBC’s director of radio and education, said: “This proposed new building will act as a magnet for music development in east London and will allow us to share our music facilities and expertise with local, diverse communities as well as being a much better place for our brilliant music staff to work from.”

Maida Vale studios were built in 1909, originally as a short-lived roller skating venue.

In the 1930s the BBC took over and refurbished it, kitting it out with rehearsal rooms and recording studios.

It then served as a home for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and was also a standby centre for BBC Radio News during World War Two, making it one of the BBC’s oldest buildings.

Although the orchestra still uses the studios, they are perhaps better known for John Peel’s famous Radio 1 sessions, aided by the huge names that have walked through its doors over the years.

Photo credit: Steve Bowbrick

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