Goodbye, Good Ship. The kill and burn of Kilburn

Beloved multi-purpose venue, The Good Ship has closed down, it’s another piece of the nation’s growing culture and heritage loss jigsaw.

Kilburn, London, used to BUZZ. It was a destination. 

From the 20th Century’s night outs at nearby Cricklewood’s Production Village (the capital’s secret surreality location) and The National (home of a most memorable Manics gig). 

It was The Good Ship that was the 21st Century’s treasure. 

There was a time when a potential mini-Camden of awesomeness was possible and the vibes of seeing the word “good”, in big bold letters on the High Road, sub consciously wafted waves of positive into the ether and made this inclusive and welcoming space a homely hub.

Sadly, Brent Council’s logic seems to be inspired by ‘The Office’ character, David Brent. When it comes to killing off the geese that lay the borough’s local golden eggs there has been a cull of creative and entertaining potential.

“Since 2011 Kilburn has lost The Luminaire, The King’s Head, The Kilburn, Powers, the Ironworks, Love and Liquor and Soul Store West (which lasted about a month). Including us it is now at least eight venues across four sites and it has not bottomed out yet.” writes The Good Ship’s captain, John McCooke.

Image: Lazy Pilgrims live at The Good Ship by music promoter, Sam Bowcher of Bark Noise.

As Live Events Department of TheZineUK, I count Captain John (actually still call him that) as an inspiration.  

He let Rocklands create ArtBeat experiments with the wonderful set up of the venue (a natural TV studio ampitheatre) and it’s backdrop possibilities. 

We had some dream times and crazy moments in there, and I still am chuffed about the Factory Floor gig with the steam train movie backdrop. 

They have gone on to global fame and fortune as a fave at the world’s biggest festivals, but that Good Ship show has stayed with me. 

“Thank ye Cap’n!”, a Love Pirate writes, from the heart. I’m just one of many Good Ship fans. So many foundations of the current rising entertainment scenes have called in, but despite being a success, The Good Ship was lost at sea (bureacracy, to be precise) at the end of October 2017. Six months on, now is a good time to see the biggest picture. 

John McCooke writes;

“I was born and bred in Kilburn and have always loved the diversity of the area and indeed London as a whole. I have always felt that London is like an experiment to see if people of different cultural and financial backgrounds can get on and they largely do.

It has shaped me massively and when I opened The Good Ship I very much wanted it to be a melting pot that the vast majority of people would not find financially restrictive.

We were an events driven venue and largely put on music and comedy and at the weekend we mixed that crowd with the more local one that came along for DJs and a late drink. Of all the late venues in the area we were definitely the most peaceful and friendly and we had a formula that largely worked.

Much like London’s mix of people benefit all, our live music crowd helped to create a nicer buzz for the potentially more difficult later DJ crowd.” 

It not only sounds perfect, but it actually was.

Rocklands would travel from Deptford in South East London to Kilburn in North West London, a considerable journey, just to come and promote great nights there.

It’s not as if Rocklands (i.e. Deptford/New Cross etc over the river from Docklands.) aren’t loaded with great venues, but It’s all about knowing a treasure of a venue when you feel it.

John’s introduction to his May 2018 report of what occurred, (do please readbelow), summarises well.

“Dear all, this meant to come out a long time ago but I wanted to write a piece about why The Good Ship closed. In my opinion it was the local council’s licensing department who were out of control and my piece will probably make not a blind bit of difference, but it would be nice if it had some impact because there has to be a turning point in the closure of independent music venues and pubs.

Continued via a full hearted article at

Thanks again for your patronage down the years,
many cheers”


It’s the full story of how The Good Ship’s hard work for positivity has suffered from illogical “Red Tape” and negativity. England’s capital city and the borough of Brent’s community have suffered a great loss to social collusion, employment, economic and reputation. It is badly timed.

As you may know if a regular reader, TheZineUK story is heavily woven into the work of Music Venue Trust.What a time for an article like this to have some impact. Hopefully not to your local counter culture community centre, your independent venue.

TheZineUK is a real story, so it has ups and downs. This is one of the downs.

In January 2014 Independent Venue Week AND Music Venue Trust were born. In Spring 2014 the first chapter of TheZineUK picture story was born. In four years the world has turned upside down and surreal. In all the best and worst ways. What happens next? Get involved and help decide.

Below, Pamphlet, live at The Good Ship during Independent Venue Week. Good times. 

RIP special space. Here’s to better times for us all in the future.

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