My Dad, Arnold Wesker - Roundhouse - Celebrating 50 Years


1964 – 1971

Lindsay Wesker shares his memories of his dad…

My Dad, Arnold Wesker by Lindsey Wesker is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

My dad was from a working class background and, when he started achieving success as a playwright, he was desperate to give back as soon as possible. He wanted to give absolutely everyone the chance to take in and enjoy the arts, whether it be painting, music, writing, anything and everything.

His Centre 42 initiative began with events around the country, aiming to enable the public to make artistic activity part of their daily lives. I remember lots of relations and family friends in other cities being involved but the Roundhouse was HQ.

For a while, Centre 42 was a massive part of his life, allowing him to fulfil his dream of providing people with a space where they could do something creative that they’d never have tried before. From memory, the structure was pretty naked inside, just a huge open space with the pillars and everything was given over to creativity. I remember flimsy walls (curtains were used even) hastily assembled to allow different activities such as painting or music to take place next to each other.

It was the 60s, the end of the flower power era, and the vibe of Centre 42 was wonderfully idealistic – it was each one, teach one – if you knew how to play an instrument you’d pass that on to someone else.

As a kid aged nine-ish, on a Saturday morning, I was brought to this art workshop, where I was able to paint, make things and, of course, run around and make noise.

A few years later, one evening, my parents brought me to the Roundhouse to see The Rolling Stones, supported by The Groundhogs and Osibisa. Osibisa were pretty much the first of the African-heritage bands to get big in the UK and for many in the audience it was a first encounter with world music. The whole space was filled with an amazing happy energy and it felt like important artists had made their entrance.