Hook End Studio Page 2

Outside Bet
In 1987 Gilmour sold Hook End on to West Side Productions, the company name adopted by production partners Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. They rechristened it Outside and one of their first major clients were The Cure who recorded their eighth LP, Disintegration, there between November 1988 and February '89. Again, this was not a happy session. Robert Smith was turning 30, having a crisis and, by his own admission, necking lots of LSD. He withdrew from the group, writing on his own and ignoring the others, one of whom, founder member and drummer Lol Tolhurst, was deep in the throes of a serious problem with alcohol. When the record came to mixing, Tolhurst was fired.


Marillion 2016 (l-r) Mark Kelly, Ian Mosley, Steve Hogarth (vocals and keys), Steven Rothery and Pete Trewavas

To The Manor Born
Another Hook End client was Morrissey who recorded his Kill Uncle LP there during late 1990/early '91 with Langer and Winstanley producing. 'He was the only person who could really afford it', says Langer. 'He fired us on the morning of the first session but I took him down the pub for a while and when we got back, Alan and the band had recorded a great backing track, so he reinstated us.'

Moz returned to Hook End two years later to do his album Vauxhall And I, this time with producer Steve Lillywhite in tow. Others who made use of the facilities were Marillion for Season's End and Holidays In Eden ('89 and '91, respectively), Manic Street Preachers for Gold Against The Soul (1993) and Aztec Camera, who recorded Dreamland with Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, which was also released in 1993.


Label of Side 1 of Marillion's Seasons End, the group's first album following the departure of vocalist Fish

In the mid-'90s Hook End was sold to Trevor Horn, he of Buggles, Yes, ABC and Frankie Goes To Hollywood fame. 'I'm probably biased but I think it's definitely the best residential recording studio in the world...' he declared at the time. 'It's really the lay-out, the size of the control room, how it feels to work in it... It's really large but it feels quite small. It means people can sleep in the corners while you're working and they won't disturb you. They can be here, they can even talk, and it won't bother you.'


James Dean Bradfield, lead vocalist with The Manic Street Preachers, on stage in Chicago in 1992

Apparently, Horn was equally taken with the house and planned to make it his family home until tragedy struck. On the 25th of June 2006, his son Aaron was practising with an air rifle, not realising his mother Jill Sinclair was close by. A pellet from the gun accidentally hit Sinclair in the neck, severing an artery and causing irreversible brain damage from hypoxia leaving only her lower brain functions and no chance for recovery. She remained in a coma for eight years until she died of cancer, aged 61.


Roddy Frame, singer with Aztec Camera, who used Hook End to record the band's fifth studio album Dreamland

Horn sold up Hook End in 2007 and the property fell into the hands of a businessman called Mark White who set up a production company to manage the studio, boasting 'a live room, three isolation booths, a control room and a separate machine room with an HD5 expanded Pro Tools system with the capability of 112 inputs and outputs'. The gear list also boasted a second Pro Tools HD3 system with 56 inputs and outputs while inside the control room could be found an 80-channel SSL9000 console.


Trevor Horn caught on camera in 1984. He bought the studio in the mid-'90s, renaming its recording facilities Sarm Hook End

Eerie Exploration
The studio was refurbished but it seems little was done to the house to the extent that a decade later it became of interest to a bunch of Internet adventurers behind the Abandoned And Derelict Britain website. They visited the property and nosed around, spooked to find games of Scrabble and pool left as if half-finished, wallpaper falling off the walls, and the dining room table set for a banquet for ten.

And here, at last, is where our Jack comes in. In the basement, stacked against a wall, the web explorers found the gravestone of a young boy called 'Little Jack'. It was dated April 1909 and carried the inscription: 'Thy love to me was wonderful'. Freaked out, the interlopers fled. As for Hook End, it doesn't appear to be in use at the moment. The only source of contact we can find is an unofficial Facebook page, which stands empty.