On Friday we packed the crates (well, I was out filming, but you get the drift) and prepared to move MSE Towers. It’s been in Shepherd’s Bush all its life – for the last nine and a half years, that’s been in the Shepherds Building. It’s a bittersweet feeling – we’re off to nice, new, more cost-effective and central premises, but it’s bye-bye Shepherd’s Bush.
My association with the Bush started in 1997. After I finished my broadcast journalism postgrad at Cardiff Journalism School, I got a job as a producer/reporter for Radio 5’s business programmes, excitingly at BBC TV Centre in Shepherd’s Bush (anyone old enough to remember Roy Castle’s Record Breakers will remember the iconic "horseshoe" where so many record attempts were made).
As the job included night shifts (9pm to 9am) and earlies (3am to 1pm), I wanted to live as close to the job as possible. So finding a place in Shepherd’s Bush was a must.
By 2000, I was working as the Money Saving Expert for Simply Money TV, went freelance in 2001, and set up MoneySavingExpert.com in 2003 – based in my Shepherd’s Bush home’s living room.
As things progressed, Brendan became the first MSE team member, joining as a one-day-a-week webmaster working from his living room, while I stayed in mine. He was soon full-time, and then MSE Andrea joined, and it was time for an office. As I was the boss, why not keep the commute short and make it in Shepherd’s Bush?
Brendan found the Shepherds Building, a six-floor former tax office. The top three floors were occupied by TV super-indie Endemol (makers of Big Brother, The Voice and many others), the rest rented into a mix of office sizes. Thus, ‘MSE Towers’ was born.
While we had a cubby-hole office, the best bit of the building was that on the ground floor there was a large coffee bar which we could hold meetings in – it was exclusive to building tenants, making the whole thing feel much more plush than you’d first think.
As the site expanded, we moved room, again, and again, and again. I’ve tried to count and I’m not quite sure, but I think we moved nine times in all. By last Friday, we had one large room with 40 people in, and a smaller one next door with 10 in, and even they were creaking at the seams.
Then, a few months ago, the building bosses imperiously proposed to turn our office into shower blocks as part of a new conference facility. So as we were served notice, it was time to leave. Not the worst thing in the world. That lovely bar facility is long gone, killing the atmosphere of the building, and we were over-cramped anyway.
The new MSE Towers is nicer, a good fit, and better-located for the rest of my work – but I must admit a melancholy feel. After 16 years of living or working there, my association with Shepherd’s Bush is at an end, with perhaps the only exception being the odd trip back to Westfield.