The Kensington Roof Gardens are closing — here’s a look back at the glamorous West London venue

1941: Pamela Churchill (Mrs Randolph Churchill) at the opening of the Derry rooftop Gardens in High Street Kensington, London with the General Manager of Derry and Toms department store and an Admiralty captain (left). Now Kensington Roof Gardens. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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1941: Pamela Churchill (Mrs Randolph Churchill) at the opening of the Derry rooftop Gardens in High Street Kensington, London with the General Manager of Derry and Toms department store and an Admiralty captain (left). Now Kensington Roof Gardens. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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Getty Images

LONDON – Iconic party venue Kensington Roof Gardens announced on Tuesday it will close suddenly because it is struggling to remain profitable.

The glamorous rooftop nightclub and restaurant, which is located above Kensington High Street, has been run by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group for 37 years, but will close imminently.

“In an ever changing London market The Roof Gardens has stood the test of time but in the face of unpredictable market conditions and a challenge to remain profitable, we feel that the time has come for us to close our doors,” the Group said in a statement.

“We are certain The Roof Gardens will continue to be one of London’s most spectacular and extraordinary landmarks and look forward to seeing what’s next for this beautiful venue,” it said.

The venue’s staff were told on Tuesday they were being made redundant because Virgin was facing rising operating costs, according to The Times.

A spokesperson for Virgin Group told The Times customers who have paid a deposit for a future booking will have their money returned.

Keep scrolling to take a look back at the venue’s history:


The Roof Garden was formerly known as Derry and Toms Roof Gardens, since it was on the roof of the former department store Derry & Toms, which opened in 1933. The gardens, which cost £25,000 to build, were opened in 1938 by the Earl of Athlone. Visitors were charged one shilling to enter and money raised over the next 30 years was donated to local hospitals.

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Kensington Roof Gardens

Here is the Derry & Toms building, in High Street Kensington. The Gardens cannot be seen from street level.

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Wiki Commons

The Gardens have three distinct areas. The first is the Spanish Garden, which is based on the Alhambra in Spain.

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Geograph

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Kensington Roof Gardens


The second is the Tudor Garden, which is characterised by brick courtyards, stone arches, roses and a central sundial.

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Flickr

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Wiki Commons

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Flickr

The third is English Woodland Garden, which is home to a pond and the venue’s famous flamingos. There are also over 30 species of trees.

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A flamingo in the English Woodland Garden
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Wiki Commons

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Kensington Roof Gardens

The garden — which is Grade II listed by English Heritage — has been used as a restaurant and club since the early 1980s. The gardens are on the 6th floor, while the Babylon restaurant is on the 7th.


Virgin Group have run the venue since 1981, hosting showbiz parties attended by the likes of Serena Williams, award ceremonies, weddings and dinners, as well as weekend club nights.



Since the Gardens are Grade II Listed, they must be preserved even when they are taken over by another company — so this is not the end of the story for the glamorous West London venue.

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Wiki Commons