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The Crouch End Hippodrome, Tottenham Lane, Crouch End, London

Formerly - The Athenaeum / The Queen's Opera House

The Queen's Opera House, Crouch End, later the Hippodrome, from the book 'Images of Hornsey and Crouch End' by Ken Gay.The remains of the Crouch End Hippodrome building in 2004 -Photo M.L.

 

Above - The Queen's Opera House, Crouch End, later the Hippodrome, from the book 'Images of Hornsey and Crouch End' by Ken Gay. And The building in 2004 M.L., at the time called 'Holmes Place.

Theatreshire Books  - Click to View Inventory

An Advertisement for the opening of the Queen's Opera House, Crouch End - From the Islington Gazette, 20th July 1897.The Crouch End Hippodrome originally opened as the Queen's Opera House on Tuesday the 27th of July 1897 with a production of 'The Geisha'. The Theatre was a reconstruction of the former Crouch End Athenaeum and was built for the owners and managers H. H. Morell and Frederick Mouillot who at the time owned another 17 Theatres between them.

Right - An Advertisement for the opening of the Queen's Opera House, Crouch End - From the Islington Gazette, 20th July 1897.

Poster for the Crouch End Hippodrome in 1907 - Click to EnlargeThe Theatre was constructed by Edmonson and Son at a cost of £12,000, and was designed by the architect Tom Woolnough under consultation with the renowned Theatre Architect, Frank Matcham.

The ERA reported on the new Theatre a few months before it opened in their 8th of May 1897 edition and amongst other things said: 'The principal entrance to the building is from the block of shops known as Topsfieid-parade, under a vestibule about 22ft. wide, which is continued out to the curb-line by a handsome iron and glass verandah.

Poster for the Crouch End Hippodrome in 1907 - Click to EnlargeThe floor of this vestibule is on a level with the stalls. The entrance to the pit is at a slightly higher level, and that to the dress-circle and upper circle is by a handsome flight of marble steps. Each part of the house will be provided with two or more distinct exits. The theatre can also be approached from an entrance in the block of shops known as the Pavement. There is also a third exit in Elder-avenue.

Left - Three posters for the Arthur Lloyd Trio performing 'The Twin Sisters' at the Crouch End Hippodrome in 1907. Also see the review below.

Poster for the Crouch End Hippodrome in 1907 - Click to EnlargeThe stage has an opening 26ft. square, fitted with a fireproof curtain; the size of the stage being 54ft. by 40ft., the height to the grid being about 50ft. There are a number of conveniently arranged dreesing rooms on the stage floor level, and a large chorus dressing-room under the stage.

Smoking and lounge rooms are also provided, and suitable refreshment accommodation on both floors. The total seating capacity will be about 1,500. The seats of the orchestra stalls and pit stalls and dress-circle will be tip-up chairs, upholstered in Utrecht velvet, the remaining portion of the auditorium being fitted with chairs, so that each person will have a comfortable seat. The building will be heated by hot-water radiators, supplied with fresh-air inlets.'

The above (edited) text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 8th May 1897.

The Daily News reported on the opening of the Theatre in their 27th of July 1897 edition saying: 'A Fine theatre has been built at Crouch-end. It is situated not very far from the spot where a year or two back occurred the pretty fish pond in the long garden of an old mansion. Pond, garden, and mansion are no more, and a line of large shops have taken the place of the trees. They represent an extension of the Broadway, and the conspicuous exterior of the Queen's Opera House is a feature of the new frontage.

A sketch of the auditorium of the Queen's Opera House, Crouch End - From Lloyds Weekly, 1st August 1897.This place of entertainment is as notable inside as out. Lobbies, corridors, and staircases—all are of generous dimensions. Just over one-third of an acre is covered by the building.

Left - A sketch of the auditorium of the Queen's Opera House, Crouch End - From Lloyds Weekly, 1st August 1897.

The auditorium is 100 feet by 54, and the stage 54 feet by 30. There is accommodation for 1,500 persons, including 100 in the orchestra. stalls (5s.), 236 in the pit stalls (3s.), and 436 in the pit (1s.). Above there is a large balcony (2s). Four boxes add to the appearance of the house, which has been beautifully decorated by Messrs. Dean, of Birmingham. Mr. Tom Woolnough is the architect, and Mr. Frank Matcham, the consulting architect.

The saloon and lounge is 50 feet by 27, and thereby hangs a tale. Originally the building was to have been an Athenaeum, with a stage at one end of the hall and a platform at the other. One day the property came under the notice of Mr. H. H. Morell, who saw how by a modification of the plans the structure might be made into a fine theatre. One result of the modification is that what was to have been a lecture hall has become a saloon and lounge...

It is intended that the Queen's Opera House should meet the requirements not only of the people of Hornsey and Crouch-end, but of those in more rural districts traversed by the Great Northern and Midland Railways. The theatre will open to-day with "The Geisha," which will be followed by "The Sign of the Gross," "Jim the Penman," "My Friend the Prince," "The Private Secretary," and "The School Girl."'

The above (edited) text in quotes was first published in the Daily News, 27th of July 1897.

The aftermath of a fire which destroyed the stage and scenery for a production of the Pantomime 'Sinbad the Sailor' at the Queen's Opera House, Crouch End on Christmas Eve, 24th of December 1904.

Above - The aftermath of a fire which destroyed the stage and scenery for a production of the Pantomime 'Sinbad the Sailor' at the Queen's Opera House, Crouch End on Christmas Eve, 24th of December 1904. Part of the rear wall of the stage collapsed and the stage roof fell in as a result of the fire - From The Graphic, 31st December 1904.

On December the 24th 1904 a serious fire occurred at the Theatre when the scenery for a production of the Pantomime 'Sinbad the Sailor' caught fire after a rehearsal at around 10pm. The fire caused the back wall of the stage to partly collapse, and the stage roof then fell in destroying the scenery completely, see image above. Luckily no injuries were caused and the fire was eventually put out by the London Fire Brigade before more of the Theatre could be destroyed. The Company later managed to put on their production of 'Sinbad the Sailor' with new scenery at the Dalston Theatre in January 1905. After nine months of closure and rebuilding and redecorating only beginning in June 1905 due to insurance investigations into the fire, the Theatre finally reopened on Monday the 25th of September 1905.

The Theatre was altered and renamed the Crouch End Hippodrome at Christmas 1906 / 07. The Referee reported on the changes in their 6th of January 1907 edition saying:- 'It is really remarkable how handsome and commodious a variety theatre has been made out of the remains of the some-time-ago burnt-out Crouch End Opera House. This Northern Hippodrome, directed by Mr. W. H. Burney (of the London and Collins's Syndicate), and managed by Mr. H. De Groot (nephew of Mr. Henri Groot), has a finer and yet much more cosy auditorium than ever the somewhat ambitiously-entitled Opera House had. Therefore, and, of course, chiefly because the entertainment provided is of a lavish as well as varied kind, the Crouch End Hippodrome ought to receive plenty of support from Crouch Enders, Finsbury Parkers, and other neighbouring friendly nations. More especially should this be the case since these Finsbury Parkers who are not bigoted Anti-Varietarians have, for a year, at least, been deprived by local Chadbands of the fine new Empire which Mr. Oswald Stoll had been preparing for them.' - The Referee, 6th January 1907.

The Theatre reopened as the Crouch End Hippodrome on Christmas Eve 1906 under the Directorship of W. H. Burney who was also at the time the Director of Collin's Music Hall in Islington. It then went on to be a successful variety house until it was eventually turned over to full time Cinema use in 1913, although it was occasionally used by amateurs for their live theatre productions. Sound equipment was added for 'Talkies' in 1929.

A Review for the Arthur Lloyd Trio performing 'The Twin Sisters' in Sheffield in 1906 - From the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Tuesday, March 13th, 1906.In 1907, 3 years after his death in 1904, Arthur Lloyd's children, Lillie, Arthur, and Dulcie appeared at the Crouch End Hippodrome as The Arthur Lloyd Trio in the Drawing Room Entertainment 'Little Charlie or The Twin Sisters' written by their father.

Right - A Review for the Arthur Lloyd Trio performing 'The Twin Sisters' in Sheffield in 1906.

A Google StreetView Image of the former Crouch End Hippodrome today - Click to Interact.Sadly the Theatre was seriously damaged by fire in the first week of May 1942. The fire started in the stalls and quickly spread to the roof. The building was patched up but never used as a Theatre or Cinema again, instead it was used for storage and later by Grattan's mail order Company as a distribution centre, at this time all the remaining decorative features were removed and the facade was covered in black tiles.

Left - A Google StreetView Image of the former Crouch End Hippodrome today - Click to Interact.

After Grattan's left the building the auditorium was demolished leaving only the facade and foyer still standing. In 2000 a local conservationist group succeeded in having the black tiles removed from the facade revealing its original semi circular glass window which was then restored and modernised. Today the building is in use as a gym.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

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