On 1st June 2006 a Grade II listed north London landmark reopened following extensive refurbishment. The rebirth of the Roundhouse was the culmination of more than a decade’s hard work, led by philanthropist Torquil Norman. The transformation was nothing short of remarkable, and whilst the Roundhouse’s artistic plans include circuses, music festivals, large scale theatre, multimedia festivals, installations, talks and screenings it is the organisation’s focus on young people that makes it a leader . The Roundhouse places young people at its heart, involving them at every level from membership of the Board of Directors to generating market campaigns.
Kick the Tyres, Light the Fires is the story of Torquil Norman’s extraordinary life, leading up to the acquisition and the launch of the Roundhouse, as well as a series of reflections on how the welfare state, taxation and prison systems can be reformed to give disadvantaged young people a fighting chance of success.
In theory for someone with a passion for young people and politics this should be a fantastic read but it was a frustrating read. In my view there is too much in this book: his early life, his toy business ventures, his interest in aviation, the Roundhouse, politics and more. It could easily have been written as a much more entertaining set of books in the manner of Sir Alan Sugar.