Amazing photos: inside Bagley’s nightclub in 2015

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London’s biggest rave venue has sat silent for 8 years. We hit the dusty dancefloor and took a trip… back through time


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As the UK’s rich nightlife culture is treated with relentless and shockingly ignorant contempt – The Arches in Glasgow and Hackney’s entire night-time economy the latest in the firing line – cop a load of these photos and remember happier times.

Bagley’s was London’s largest nightclub space for two decades, although it was always living on borrowed time. As disagreements over how to regenerate the wastelands behind King’s Cross Station rumbled on, these crumbling Victorian coal drops (see history below) made for an immense party destination, and slap bang in the heart of the capital, too.

The perfect combination of right space and certainly right time: Bagley’s (later known as Canvas) boomed loud and proud during the height of the global dance music explosion. Finally repossessed in 2008 as the area’s development got underway, the building has sat, mothballed, ever since.

All that is about to change, so we jumped at the chance to retrace the steps many of us made over countless weekends in the 90s and noughties, camera in hand.


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Come with us now: turn left after a gum-and-fags stop at the petrol station on York Way, down the edgy cobbled backstreet, swerve the dodgy drug dealers, gasp at the monster queue for The Cross, then join one ten times bigger next door, and finally climb the stairs to meet 2500 others packed into six sweaty rooms, and dance until sunrise breaks over the gasholders on outdoor terrace at 6am.

Welcome back to Bagley’s Warehouse.

The walk down Wharf Road, The Cross to the left
The walk down Wharf Road with The Cross to the left (currently behind scaffolding) All photos: Tom Kihl/ LBTM
If you were bouncing up these steps, you'd made it past security (or Philip Salon's clipboard)
If you were bouncing up these steps, you’d made it past security (or Philip Salon’s clipboard)
The labyrinthine first floor
The labyrinthine first floor. Ever waited here for a friend faffing at the cloakroom?
All new Central St. Martins and Granary Square now thrive outside, while previously roadblocked Bagley's nightclub - complete with faded Mixmag sticker - sits untouched
All new Central St. Martin’s and Granary Square now thrive outside, while previously roadblocked Bagley’s nightclub – complete with faded Mixmag sticker – sits untouched…
The main dancefloor, looking towards the stage. Where the whistle and horns crew used to "make some noise!"
The main dancefloor, looking towards the stage. Where the whistle and horns crew used to “make some noise!”
Toilet blocks including stall markings: oh the things that must have gone on right here
Toilet blocks including stall markings: oh the things that must have gone on right here…
And while we're talking toilets, this is a proper sewerage pipe being installed. In the club era, the toxic effluent from 2500 ravers poured straight down small Victorian drains
And while we’re talking toilets, this is a proper sewerage pipe being installed outside. In the club era, toxic effluent from 2500 ravers tipped straight down small Victorian drains.
Room 2, or was that 3, or 4? Did you career through here at the Rollerdisco, or snog a stranger in the corner, perhaps?
Room 2, or was that 3, or 4? Did you career through here at the Rollerdisco, or snog a stranger in the corner, perhaps? All photos: Tom Kihl/ LBTM
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The history

The building in the 1990s © English Heritage Archive
The building in the 1990s © English Heritage Archive
This vast structure was first known as the Eastern Coal Drops when it was completed in 1850. It was designed for storage and transfer of vast consignments of coal from rail wagons to road carts all under the same roof. It included high level rail track platforms, (later home to such delights as fairground rides, outdoor swimming pools and other imaginative attractions for thrill-seeking clubbers).

The scale of the place was unprecedented when first complete, and proved a fine centrepiece of the Great Northern Railway’s coal operation for over thirty years, before the technology behind dumping loads of the black stuff moved on, and its use fell out of favour.

In the 1880’s a large section of the building was converted to warehousing use, including a unit taken by bottle and glass merchant Bagley’s of Knottingley, from which the nightclub later took its name.

After one hundred years of gradual decline, by the early 1990s the number of businesses housed in the cavernous space had dwindled, just as the Criminal Justice Act forced the UK’s large-scale rave organisers out of the fields around the M25 and indoors.

Bagley's and the vast, derelict industrial space around it are being scrubbed up.  It might even play host to a music venue, but not on the off-the-scale levels of old
Bagley’s and the vast, derelict industrial space around it are being scrubbed up. It might even play host to a music venue, but nothing to reach the off-the-scale levels of old

Issue 8 GH cover

Read more about the clubbing heritage of King’s Cross in our celebratory August 2015 issue of Gasholder, available free in over 100 outlets throughout the area from today.

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  • Helix_LHF

    joemuggs place is etched on my brain..too many times,too many tinks and too many tape packs #Slammin Vinyl #Best of British #United Dance

  • sinisterbadger

    ___Patrick__ GasholderLDN so this is progress… Really?

  • Kelly Wilson

    I did!!! Some wicked nights!!

  • KieronEdward

    Phil Salon’s night “Saddam Hussein’s Barmitvah” in 1993 was the best party ever thrown here. One of the best parties ever thrown in London. Wicked stuff.

  • KerrySullivan

    Queues! Ew no not when you knew the do staff, Adil, Wayne, Sean hello I any of you read this

  • ShellyWardley

    Best weekends of my life spent in all 6 of those rooms

  • Hollie Pope

    Such a sad sight. All the best clubs have gone, Bags, The Cross, The Key, Turnmills. Thank lordy Fabric is still standing. Good times and fun were had at all of them. B-)

  • James White

    I danced with a topless and shoeless Michael Stipe there in 1995 when it was Popstarz and had the gravity spinner ride in the corner… and an indie room and a cheese room.