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‘We’re on our way back’: Camden Koko pays Valentine’s Day tribute to firefighters who tackled blaze to save historic music venue

PUBLISHED: 14:05 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 18:10 14 February 2020

Servicemen from London Fire Brigade with Koko owner Olly Bengough (left) and LFB Camden borough commander Simon Tuhill (right). Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

Servicemen from London Fire Brigade with Koko owner Olly Bengough (left) and LFB Camden borough commander Simon Tuhill (right). Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

David Parry/PA Wire

Camden nightclub Koko has paid a Valentine’s Day tribute to thank the London firefighters who helped save London’s historic music venue from ruin.

LFB crew on the balcony of the Grade II listed building. Picture: David Parry/PA WireLFB crew on the balcony of the Grade II listed building. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

On Friday (February 14), a London Fire Brigade (LFB) crew returned to the scene of the blaze in Camden High Street which threatened to burn down one of the capital's most iconic music institutions in its entirety.

Investigations continue into the cause of the Koko fire on the night of January 6, but interim forensic reports say it was "construction-related", set off while the Grade II listed building was closed during its as yet unfinished £40 million refurbishment.

Koko owner Olly Bengough admitted the past month had been a difficult time for everybody involved, but that Friday's tribute helped to provide closure and kick-start a new chapter.

"We're on our way back now," Olly said, adding: "Like many Londoners and live music fans across the world, we were devastated when we saw that our beloved Koko was on fire.

Firefighters outside the Valentine's Day artwork by graphic designer Richard Turle. Picture: David Parry/PA WireFirefighters outside the Valentine's Day artwork by graphic designer Richard Turle. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

"We owe so much to LFB's swift and courageous response, which prevented the fire from spreading and saved the main theatre."

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Koko's 120-year-old copper dome was destroyed in the blaze, but alongside firefighters tackling the flames until 2.30am, it proved to be the feature that ultimately saved the building from ruin by acting as a chimney, funnelling the fire up through the roof.

Simon Tuhill, LFB Camden borough commander, paid tribute to his firefighters' heroic bravery, saying: "When I was younger I used to come here so it gives me real buy-in.

Graffiti sketching the long list of famous artists to have performed at the 120-year-old nightclub. Picture: Michael BonifaceGraffiti sketching the long list of famous artists to have performed at the 120-year-old nightclub. Picture: Michael Boniface

"I would have been distraught if this bulding had burnt down and the fact that we saved it means a lot to me personally as much as it does professionally."

Cllr Georgia Gould, Camden Council leader, said: "Every day the LFB faces dangerous situations to keep our communities safe, and I am grateful for their courage in ensuring that Koko will be around for future generations to enjoy."

London's night czar Amy Lamé, said: "We're all so grateful to the courageous firefighters whose swift work saved this venue, and I can't wait to see it back up and running again."

Koko, formerly Camden Palace, has hosted world-famous artists such as Madonna, Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, Prince and Kanye West.

The blaze which ripped through Koko on January 6. Picture: Oliver CooperThe blaze which ripped through Koko on January 6. Picture: Oliver Cooper

Once repair and refurbishment works are complete, the redeveloped venue will include a new rooftop terrace, recording studio and members' club.

Its copper dome will be restored as a bar.

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