Back in the summer of 1991 I was a fresh-faced intern eager to get his foot in the proverbial door of magazine publishing. Rochester Place – that cobbled backwater nestling between Camden Road and Royal College Street – was home to a certain WV Publications, boasting titles on the vanguard of the VHS golden age, including ‘What Video’ and ‘Camcorder User’.
As well as heaving boxes of magazines through the thick fug of tobacco smoke produced by geek hacks and flash ad sales execs by day, I was busy afterhours too, discovering the world of London’s nightclubs.
So it was particularly exciting to learn that the studios of all conquering Camden Town exports Soul II Soul – who achieved global fame with their 1988 #1 smash Back To Life – were situated directly across the cobbled mews at no.36-38. They were at the height of their powers, with second LP ‘Vol. II: 1990 – A New Decade’ going Gold in the US, so having Jazzie B pulling up outside made the little Kentish Town backstreet feel like the centre of the music world.
It was of course – I hasten to add – also the centre of the camcorder world, so that meant my boss was in bed with hilarious king of camcorder calamities, Jeremy Beadle.
You’ll recall that Beadle was dominating weekly TV ratings. But beyond all that he was an obsessive researcher of odd facts, collected in his own library of over 30,000 volumes, plus a huge charity supporter.
And it was this charity support that brought him to host quizzes at Rochester Place, wine-soaked evening events for the staff and our friends. And they were so riotous the Funki Dreads would even peer through the windows at us for a change. (Rumour has it that Jazzie B even won a Lynx Grooming Set.)
The attractive thoroughfare is quieter today, with the lovely cottages of Reed’s Place leading gracefully west. There are also two houses built by esteemed architect David Wild, and, just beyond, the former school buildings once the site of The Rotunda.
But all that’s another story. For me this quirky Kentish Town footnote reveals Rochester Place was briefly what you might just stretch to call the epicentre of a media era; when nostalgic 90s ephemera – bulky home movie-making kit, big Saturday night TV stars, vinyl DJ culture, warehouse-sized music studios – ruled the day.