Kingston RPM; Records, People & Music

Getting in tune with Kingston’s musical history

Kingston RPM; Records, People & Music is a project that took place in 2017 to celebrate and showcase Kingston’s rich and varied music heritage for the first time

In 2017, with generous support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England and the Royal Borough of Kingston, the Kingston RPM project team uncovered the rich and varied musical heritage of the royal borough of Kingston upon Thames and the surrounding region. The project is centred around three core strands of research, covering the 1940s to the 1970s: the musical influence of the US army’s wartime base in Bushy Park; the presence of the Decca Records pressing plant in New Malden; and the wide range of music venues that Kingston has been home to over the years.

The project captures oral testimonies from local residents and communities and explores, celebrate and showcase the rich and varied musical heritage of Kingston and its influence on the music scene and musicians today. The project focuses on three unifying themes; the record industry, musicians/venues and the American Army’s influence.

Highlights of the project included

  • a 12 week exhibition at the Rose Theatre that celebrated and showcased the uncovered music heritage and history within the borough
  • an oral history engagement programme that saw the local community trained in capturing and processing oral histories and the recording and distribution of a music and oral history album
  • a spectacular gig day at the Rose Theatre, part of the International Youth Arts Festival 2017 (Creative Youth’s annual flagship event)
  • a marching band inspired by the American Army’s influence on the borough and a record fair, bringing together some of the UK’s highest quality artists and musicians
  • a schools singing and composition project, led by Kingston Music Service, which saw 1,200 primary school children performing a new piece of music created by 120 secondary school children
  • a competition for schools, who designed the cover of the music and oral history album produced.

Visit the Kingston RPM website to see what was discovered during the project. There is also a Education pack for KS3 and 4 students, available to download for free.