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Fixing Day

An Oral History of Live Musician's Work in London's West End.

This project is set up and run by educational charity digital-works.

"Fixing Day" is a project that will explore the history of the working lives of musician's working in London's West End. The gigs at the 2i's club in 1950s Soho, the jazz venues, the theatre work, the Palais Scene and more. Through 20 oral history interviews with musicians young an old, we will explore the skills, how they got their work, the highs and the lows, as well as the changes in the working lives of musicians from the 1950s to the present.

We will take as our starting point the 100th anniversary of the inception of what became a musical institution in London, but one that is very little known, even among present day musicians.

Archer Street has a central place in the history of live musicians work in London's West End. In 1924 the dance craze around the Charleston arrived in London transforming the dance scene which until then had been dominated by ballroom dancing. With it came opportunities for musicians in London but also for immigrants to meet the new demand. The musicians would get their work by lining Archer Street in London's West End, instruments in hand, waiting for band leaders or contractors, also known as fixers to come looking for musicians. This open air unofficial labour exchange became an integral part of London's music scene and Monday was the day jobs were given. It became known as "Fixing Day". For forty years this was the main way musicians got work. It was not only a means of getting work, it was also a social scene, where musicians would meet and socialise, often in the three pubs on the street, but when they closed for the afternoon, out on the street which would be packed with musicians.

From the mid 60s the widening use of the telephone led to the end of Archer Street with "fixing" taking place over the phone. The way of getting work in the West End's jazz and dance clubs, as well as the theatres changed and Archer Street became just another London street but musicians have continued to ply their trade in the West End and built on this work to make the West End end scene what it is today.

This project uses oral history as the primary means to research, record and share this heritage.

We will train 12 people in heritage and oral history techniques covering how to develop an oral history project, interview skills and audio recording skills as well as researching and developing themes and questions. They will then work in teams using these skills to conduct and record oral history interviews with 20 people.

The full interviews will be deposited with City of Westminster Archives, Camden Local Studies and Archives and Bishopsgate Institute.

This project website houses all of the full interviews, the podcasts, the film and cover the progress of the project.


This project is run by digital:works working closely with the City of Westminster Archives and Camden Local Studies and Archives.

We are grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their financial support.

digital-works logo

digital:works has been running oral history projects across London working with communities to explore the history of work and workers in the capital. Projects so far include printers on Fleet Street, bus workers, underground workers, black cab drivers, jewellers in Hatton Garden, tailors in Saville Row, the Thames Lightermen, Thames boatyards and more. Other projects explore the history of Battersea, North Kensington, Southall, Eel Pie Island, as well as some of London’s indoor and street markets. If you would like to see any of these wonderful films and find out more about digital:works please visit:



Would you like to be part of a team uncovering the hidden stories from London's musicians?

Oral history specialists digital-works are working with the City of Westminster Archives and Camden Local Studies and Archives on a project that will explore the history of Musician's working in live settings in London's West End.

training session

We are inviting people to join this exciting project. You will be part of a team, attend talks from historians, meet musicians, go on a history walk of London's West End and receive training in oral history techniques including interview and audio recording skills. After training you will be interviewing musicians involved in the industry leading to the production of a documentary film. You will need to be available for three training days [15th, 17th & 18th April 2024] and a history walk planned for the 16th April.

No experience needed. Expenses covered. All welcome!

If you are interested in taking part in this fun and informative activity please contact Sav for more information at

Are you a musician who has played live in London's West End?

Would you like to come and share your memories for a new local history project?

Oral history specialists digital-works are working with local archives on a project that will explore and record the history of London's live musicians.


We are looking for anyone who can spare an hour to share stories of their memories.

The interviews will form an important addition to local archives and will form the basis of an educational documentary film.

To find out more please contact: Matthew Rosenberg or
07949 107023