Guitar maker forced out of Tin Pan Alley by developer

Sword of Damocles falls on Tim Marten who toured with Led Zeppelin and Ray Davies

Friday, 21st July 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

Tim Marten

Tim Marten

ONE of the last independent guitar makers in historic Denmark Street has packed up his shop for the final time.

Tim Marten – who began working in Andy’s repair shop in 1978 – has toured the world with Led Zeppelin and Kinks frontman Ray Davies.

Mr Marten has been forced to leave because of a major development of the street – also known as Tin Pan Alley – by developer Consolidated.

The 62-year-old said: “It’s not come as a surprise but it is something that has been hanging over us for a long time. The sword of Damocles has finally fallen and we have to go.

“I am left in a bit of a panic with nowhere to go. The stuff is going into storage while I take some time off to try and find alternative premises. But with the prices in central London being what they are I think it is unlikely that I will find anywhere that I can afford.”

Looking back on the historic street, he said: “It was a street full of music shops and music-related businesses upstairs. It was a community. It was a bit tatty but that was part of its charm.
“You had your music production companies, your film production companies, all the behind the scenes stuff that you don’t see walking down the street, but the music industry couldn’t exist without it.

“It’s more than just guitar shops… I don’t think the guitar shops have a very bright future without the rest of the community there,” he said.

Mr Marten believes he will “almost certainly” have to move out of the area “unless a miracle happens or I can find a benevolent benefactor who will gaze upon my situation with a sympathetic eye”.

He is still hoping that somebody will offer him a new space. Mr Marten was only about 14 years old when he first tried his hand at making musical instruments. “When I was a teenager I wanted to play the guitar but I couldn’t afford to buy one, so I had a go at making one,” he says “I was always good with my hands, metalwork, woodwork, so I thought I’d make one. People started bringing me their guitars to fix and that has been my job ever since.”

Mr Marten has been on tour as a guitar technician and played the guitar semi-professionally.

“Ray [Davies] was probably the best song- writer that England has ever produced and it was a privilege to work for him. They were good days,” he said.

But he always ended up coming back to Denmark Street and has always seen as it a base for what he does.

He said: “Development was inevitable but they [Consolidated] could do it with a bit more sympathy to the history of the place and to the people working here. They did promise initially that everybody would be looked after, but that hasn’t proved to be the case. I think it could have been handled very differently.”

Consolidated was unavailable for comment.

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