The Automobile magazine, father of the Oily Rag movement, recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Its publishers have produced a special 200 page Anniversary Edition, in addition to the regular monthly magazine. The Oily Rag’s website editor has written a paen to both the culture and celebration of ‘Oily Rag’. Available at all good news stands…commercial over!
To mark the occasion in a most suitable manner and also to launch a documentary film about one of Britain’s most respected and long-lived automobile journalists, Ronald (Steady) Barker, the event was held in what must surely be the Oiliest Rag location in the whole of London – Wilton’s Music Hall. Tucked away in the East End, just off historic Cable Street, Wilton’s is not easy to find. An extremely rare survivor, the building was once a public house (c.1828) becoming a Music Hall in the mid 1800′s. Once, the largest London pubs had ‘entertainment galleries’ but this is the only one left in its original state. Nearly lost to either re-development or neglect, it is a miracle that the fabric of the building and its unique interiors have survived. Wilton’s now has Grade 2 listed building status which affords it some protection, but it still requires huge sums of money to be spent on its restoration and stabilisation. The saucy, smoke-filled, beer-fuelled atmosphere of Wilton’s in its heyday is almost tangible when you enter, no wonder the Can-Can was first performed in London here…and promptly banned!. There is a bar and they also serve what looks like rather good food, so it’s no museum piece. There is also a full programme of shows throughout the year…to find out what’s on visit http://wiltons.org.uk.
If you’re visiting London, a visit to Wilton’s should be on your agenda. You can rent it for yourself just as The Automobile did. It’s unique – and Oily Rag in the extreme.
Posted on by Paul d'Orléans in Architecture, Family Tradition Leave a comment

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