Kingston RPM: Records, People & Music

Kingston RPM: Records, People & Music is a project that took place in 2017 to celebrate and showcase Kingston’s rich and varied music heritage from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Over the space of year, 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 wealth of 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.

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.

This website provides a chance to explore this history, with all of the findings from the project and the activity delivered visible here. There is also a Education pack for KS3 and 4 students, available to download for free.

Explore Kingston RPM

Project Album

Celebrating Kingston’s rich music heritage was a key component to this project, however, it was also important to celebrate and acknowledge the outstanding musical talent of today. Combining some of the oral testimonies captured during the project and live recordings of some of the best artists of today, this album pays tribute to the remarkable heritage of Kingston. Simultaneously capturing voices of the past, the vibrancy of the present and the talent of future, this Kingston RPM album is a fitting testament to the formative and ongoing of music in the borough.

All music was recorded live at the Kingston RPM events Kingston Music Services’ Festival of Schools Choirs and the Kingston RPM Gig Day and huge thanks goes to the recent graduates of the Academy of Contemporary Music, Clapham and Kiall Freeman, Linnea Kempe and Zayn Goetzee for their work in recording, mastering and editing the music.

Artists featured on the album include, Tankus the HengeTobias Ben Jacob and Lukas DrinkwaterJulian Marc Stringle Jazz QuartetThe Gator Dog SnappersJohn Coghlan’s Quo and the young performers from St Paul’s C of E Primary School, Kingston Hill, Lovelace Primary School, King Athelstan Primary School, St Matthew’s C of E Primary School, Ellingham Primary School, St John’s Primary School, St Andrew’s and St Mark’s Junior School and Latchmere School.

There was also a competition for the cover design – using inspiration from the record sleeve artwork between the 1940s and 1970’s, a number of local schools put their creativity to the test and submitted entries. The winner was Maxwell Hansen from Coombe Boys School, with Asma Khan from Tiffin Girls School in Second Place and Adam Mayor – Bowler, also from Coombe Boys School coming in Third Place. All three pieces of artwork were on display in the Rose Theatre, as part of the To Make A Record Exhibition and Maxwell’s work was printed as the cover sleeve to the project LP’s.