Iconic venue Kensington Roof Gardens is to close its doors after 37 years as one of London's top night spots. Sir Richard Branson's company Virgin announced the sad news on Wednesday, saying an unpredictable market had affected profits. Virgin Limited Edition said: “The time has come for us to close our doors. In an ever-changing London market the roof gardens has stood the test of time but in the face of unpredictable market conditions and a challenge to remain profitable, we feel that the time has come for us to close our doors.”
The Kensington Roof Gardens
The Grade II listed restaurant and nightclub has played host to some of the city's most famous parties over the years, with A-list stars such as Madonna, Kate Moss and the band Queen stopping by. The Duchess of Cambridge was also a fan of the Kensington High Street venue, which boasted three beautiful rooftop gardens, a stream and resident flamingos. Virgin added: “We are certain the roof gardens will continue to be one of London’s most spectacular and extraordinary landmarks and look forward to seeing what’s next for this beautiful venue.”
The Duchess of Cambridge chats to Sir Richard Branson at the Roof Gardens in 2006
The Guardian reports that 85 staff will lose their jobs at the venue. On Twitter there was shock at the news, as people who had booked weddings at the Roof Gardens for this year must now seek alternative venues. Many paid tribute to the much-loved gardens. One fan wrote: "Very sad. Loved the roof gardens. Hope it finds a new owner soon." Another said: "So sad to hear this. I spent my 21st birthday here and it was one of the most magical nights."
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer at the Roof Gardens in 2006
Kensington Roof Gardens began life in 1936 on top of the Derry and Toms department store. The gardens were designed by landscape architect Ralph Hancock, costing £25,000 with an entrance fee of 1 shilling. Derry and Toms remained there until 1973 until fashion label Biba took over the retail space. Virgin has run the venue since 1981.