Soho fire affects top London post house21 July 2009
A fire in the office building adjacent to the Soho base of De Lane Lea forced the post house to vacate its premises earlier this month, writes Jim Evans. At time of writing, its operations had been seriously curtailed while moves were made to ascertain the extent of the damage.
The fire – which broke out on the afternoon of Friday July 10 – destroyed 75% of the four-storey building that houses finance company Future Capital Partners*. Fifty people from both buildings were evacuated while 100 fire fighters fought the blaze. Oxford Street was completely closed in both directions and much disruption caused.
Investigations into the cause of the fire continue. There are suggestions that it started in an air conditioning duct in the basement.
Damage to the De Lane Lea building is understood to be limited to that caused by smoke and water. The complex includes six dubbing theatres, editing suites, ADR, voiceover and foley recording facilities, and a 37-seat screening theatre. When they will be operable again is uncertain.
"Structural engineers from Westminster Council have advised us not to enter the building," De Lane Lea chief executive Huw Penalt Jones told PSN-e. "There’s no power in the building either. Once that’s back on and the health and safety people let us back in, we can assess the extent of the damage.
"We share a party wall with the burnt-out building and that has been shorn up. As far as we can tell, there is no fire damage to our side – just smoke and water damage. In the meantime, we have moved our marketing, bookings, administration and my own office to rooms at Goldcrest, and all our phone numbers and lines of contact remain as they were before the fire. And we are advising our clients on suitable alternative facilities for their projects. Obviously we hope to get back to normal operation as soon as possible."
De Lane Lea was founded in 1947 by Major Jacques De Lane Lea, a French intelligence attach_ for the British Government. He launched the operation to dub English films into French. The studios expanded significantly in the ’60s and ’70s, offering music recording services as well as film, radio, television and advertising services. Artists who recorded at the De Lane Lea Music Centre in Wembley and, later, Kingsway, included the Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and Queen.
In recent years, De Lane Lea has specialised in sound post-production for feature films and television. Recent projects include The Boat That Rocked (Richard Curtis), Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster) and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Andrew Adamson). Recent technological developments at 75 Dean Street include the installation of a new IP based KVM system in Studio 1, allowing any Pro Tools rig to be quickly accessed from any workstation in the studio. The software on both DFCs has been upgraded to version 5.3, as well as a 12 stem upgrade, providing improved functionality and power.
Last September, the complex won the Conch award for Film Facility of the Year for the third year running.
* Future Capital Partners has moved to a temporary office in nearby Regent Street. CEO Tim Levy comments: "Although the fire has devastated the building, we are pleased to report that everyone was evacuated efficiently and safely and that thanks to the commitment of our staff and the excellent implementation of our comprehensive disaster recovery plans, we were already fully operational with minimal impact on our business as of Monday 13 July. Future Capital Partners is actively seeking a new permanent location."