Shepherd's Bush Green Fair

Interesting facts as we beat around the Bush!

According to that unrivalled source of accurate information, Wikipedia, Shepherd's Bush was so named because 500 years ago Shepherds would take a break on the green on their way to the big London meat markets, presumably whilst their sheep contemplated the chances of doing a runner to avoid the chop (literally). Still, as you can see the sheep had no chance what with all the traffic on the roundabout, and there have been very few shepherds around lately with whom we can verify the story, so thought you would be interested in the other major entertainment available on the Green during our visit.

London's Ice Fayre is opposite the historic Shepherd's Bush Empire, synonymous with the very best in entertainment for well over 100 years. The Empire has been a prominent landmark on London's entertainment scene ever since it was designed and built by Frank Matcham (1854-1920), undeniably one of the most prolific Victorian architects. The venue still retains its original, opulent design and grandeur of its early years.

Built for powerful theatre manager Oswald Stoll it opened on August 17th 1903 with its first performers The Fred Karno Troupe and continued to provide first-class entertainment with stars of the Music Hall era and weekly Variety Performance and Revues until the early 1950s. As trends in drama and entertainment began to change, the theatre was eventually sold to BBC Television in September 1953 and immediately work commenced to convert the building into a TV Studio-theatre. One of the first shows to be televised before a live studio audience took place in October 1953; called a Variety Parade starring Max Bygraves and the legendary Tiller Girls.

The Empire played an important role in popular TV culture with BBC shows such as Crackerjack, That's Life, Hancock, Wogan and The Old Grey Whistle Test broadcasting over the next forty years. Numerous artists performed at the Empire in this period including Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Kinks, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Eric Clapton, Lulu and Duran Duran.

In January 1995, live music and restaurant operators Break For The Border Group PLC successfully purchased the Empire and in the same year they won the first two industry accolades for this new centre of music excellence as Venue of the Year for Music Week and Live Magazine. There followed a number of high profile shows by a string of leading global artists such as Johnny Cash, Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper and Barenaked Ladies.

The Empire continued to maintain its impressive reputation to host a wide entertainments brief including special events such as Comic Relief in March 1997 with over 10 million viewers tuning in to BBC TV, comedy with Jo Brand and Harry Hill, spoken word with Howard Marks, and events such as the UK Breakdance Championships, BBC Live Night Of Comedy for Children In Need and the Technics Mercury Music Prize 1998.

It was in January 1998 that the newly formed McKenzie Group (now Academy Music Group, purchased the Empire and the programme of innovative and varied music has continued.

Shepherd's Bush Empire averages some 200 shows per annum, attracting some 350,000 persons, per year. The West London venue is a favourite haunt for artists, music industry executives, the media and music-lovers alike. See for more information on this revered temple of leisure and music.