Railway Hotel Harrow – From Music Venue To A Pile Of Ashes
Hotels which were given the name “Railway Hotel” were almost always located next, or close to, railway stations, fairly obvious really. Of course, when stations were closed the need for the hotel often diminished and many ended up closing. So the Railway Hotel Harrow & Wealdstone is a bit of an exception since the station is still in use but the hotel has long since gone.
The Railway Hotel Harrow was the venue where the Who were reputed to have begun their guitar smashing antics in 1964, albeit in their earlier guise of the High Numbers. The band can be seen posing outside the hotel on the album cover shown above and in the centre fold spread of Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy. The Who’s manager to be, Kit Lambert, actually discovered them at this location and the rest is history. The guitar smashing incident was actually an accident with Pete Townsend accidentally hitting his guitar on the low roof above the stage but the crowd apparently loved it so he kept it in the act for years afterwards.
The Who had a residency at the Railway Hotel during the summer of 1964.
The Railway Hotel Harrow & Wealdstone was torched in 2002 in an arson attack and has now been replaced with something much less interesting – yet another block of flats.
Interestingly, two of the blocks of flats built on the site were named after Who (High Numbers) members Roger Daltry (Daltry house) and Keith Moon, (Moon House). There is a townsend House in Harrow but we are not sure whether that was named after Pete Townsend or if it was just a coincidence. A plaque was erected to commemorate the Who, the guitar smashing and the bands association with the hotel. The plaque has since dissapeared and is probably in someone’s collection of rock memorabilia – wish I had it!
Other acts known to have played at the Railway Hotel Harrow & Wealdstone include Jethro Tull, Savoy Brown and Anysley Dunbar – we know this because of the brilliant poster shown below:
It was a popular venue with the Mods, with whom the Who were closely associated, hence the appearance of their lesser known rock opera “Quadraphenia”.