Abbey Road Studios get preservation order

LONDON (Reuters Life!) – Abbey Road, the recording studios made famous by the Beatles, was designated a historic site by the government on Tuesday to protect the sanctuary of pop music from any plans to drastically alter it.

People gather outside Abbey Road studios in north London February 17, 2010. REUTERS/Jas Lehal

Reports last week that the EMI owners were to sell the studios sparked global interest and sparked fears the site could be converted into a residential development.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge declared the landmark a Grade II listed building – the second highest category – on the advice of national preservation body English Heritage.

In a statement, she said the list was granted “largely on the historical merit of the studios” and because of its “enormous cultural significance.”

The new status means that while changes can be made to its interior, any proposed changes must respect the character and preservation of the site.

Abbey Road has become synonymous with the Beatles who recorded almost all of their albums and singles here between 1962 and 1970. Pink Floyd also used the studios for their late 1960s and mid-1970s albums.

Tourists still regularly pose for snaps at the nearby pedestrian crossing on Abbey Road which features on the cover of the Beatles album of the same name.

Among those calling for the buildings to be saved were ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber, who flagged him as a potential buyer.

On Sunday, EMI said it wanted to retain ownership of the studios in St John’s Wood, north London, although it said it was in talks with other parties about their revitalization.

The company, owned by private equity group Terra Firma, has previously said it welcomes news of the planned listing, although the restrictions at issue could potentially lower the sale price.

“It speaks to both the importance of music in people’s lives and the passion that this kind of issue generates, that so much interest has been generated by the perceived threat to the future of Abbey Road” , Hodge said.

Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; Editing by Steve Addison

Comments are closed.