Bridgewater calling: Strummer's friends want concrete folly turned into memorial

He was renowned for provocation not preservation, for opposing the establishment, not conserving it. But now Joe Strummer, the iconoclastic Clash frontman known for songs such as "White Riot" and "Guns of Brixton", could posthumously save a crumbling example of Britain's architectural heritage.

He was renowned for provocation not preservation, for opposing the establishment, not conserving it. But now Joe Strummer, the iconoclastic Clash frontman known for songs such as "White Riot" and "Guns of Brixton", could posthumously save a crumbling example of Britain's architectural heritage.

Eighteen months years after Strummer died of a heart attack, the punk pioneer's celebrity friends are backing a bid to memorialise him in the unlikely guise of a heritage project in his adopted home town of Bridgwater, Somerset.

They plan to save Castle House, a derelict Victorian folly that was one of the world's first concrete buildings, and turn it into the international headquarters of a charity in Strummer's name. Adapting one of The Clash's most famous songs as their clarion call, fans are urging the public to "rock the concrete casbah" when the building is featured in the BBC2 series Restoration later this month.

If it can be saved ­ at an estimated cost of less than £1m ­ Castle House will be the base for Strummerville, a charity launched at the Glastonbury Festival this year. It aims to provide rehearsal space and business support for young people who would otherwise lack the funds to make music.

The Bridgwater HQ would include a cinema and a gallery that would be overseen by Damien Hirst. The artist said Strummer had been "a great friend" who lived about an hour from his house and they used to go on holidays together in Spain. Hirst said: "Lots of people have promised to help. We want to spend the money in Joe's memory and this was a building Joe loved."

The long-term aim is to set up workspaces in similar locations around the world, possibly calling on the support of Strummer's American fans such as Bruce Springsteen. Plans to launch the initiative include the actor Keith Allen leading Bridgwater in a karaoke version of "Rock the Casbah" on Saturday 17 July. Mick Jones, who played with Strummer in the band, and film maker Don Letts also plan to appear.

Strummer was seen by his fans as the archetypal angry musician who struck blows against what he saw as the complacency of the political and musical establishments. He and the band also put their money behind their political convictions, and in April 1978 they headlined a free Anti-Nazi League festival in London, organised by the pressure group Rock Against Racism.

Just a month before his death on 22 December 2002, Strummer played a benefit gig for the striking Fire Brigades Union with his new band, the Mescaleros. He was also working on a track written with Bono and Dave Stewart for Aids Awareness in Africa.

Supporters claim Castle House is very much the underdog in a competition where its rivals include the Gothic castle Strawberry Hill at Twickenham, and a Palladian palace in Dorset. But they say Castle House is ­ like Strummer ­ unique. Julien Temple, director of The Great Rock and Roll Swindle, which featured the Sex Pistols, said the project would help kick-start the charity as well as regenerating an underprivileged and neglected town which Strummer loved for its "raw spirit and rebel traditions". He added: "The charity has been set up to help kids in underprivileged areas find a place to rehearse and perform in and create links with music business contacts. We are doing it in Bridgwater because it was Joe's favourite little town where he lived."

The Grade II* listed Castle House was built in a back street in 1851 by John Board, a successful local brick maker who was convinced of the revolutionary potential of concrete. It now stands on the brink of oblivion after seeing service as apartments, a guesthouse and crack den.

Castle House supporters are calling on the public to "vote concrete" when the building is shown on Restoration. The building that wins will be saved with the money raised by those using the telephone voting lines.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum