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The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane Fire of 1908

Introduction - A Report on the Fire - Reinstallation of Lighting Equipment - The Theatre Royal Drury Lane

A Programme for the reopening production of 'The Marriages of Mayfair' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in the Autumn of 1908 -  Click to see the whole programme and read a short description of the Drama. The present Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which in 2012 celebrated its bicentenary, was built in 1812 to replace the previous Theatre on the site which had burnt down in 1809, just under 15 years after it was built. The present Theatre had a narrow escape when it too caught fire on the morning of the 25th of March 1908. The stage house and a lot of the backstage areas were gutted by the fire but thankfully the auditorium and front of house were saved from serious damage by the fire services and the iron curtain. The Theatre's stage and backstage were quickly rebuilt after the fire and the Theatre reopened 6 months later on September the 24th 1908 with a production of 'The Marriages of Mayfair.

Right - A Programme for the reopening production of 'The Marriages of Mayfair' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in the Autumn of 1908. This was the first production after fire had caused serious damage to the stage and backstage areas of the Theatre in March 1908. Click to see the whole programme and read a short description of the Drama.

The Cross Dock, behind the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2012 - Photo M.L.The burnt out Cross Dock behind the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox.The Stage newspaper reported on the fire the day after it occurred and I have transcribed this report below along with a photograph which was produced with the article, but several other photographs of the damage caused by the fire have also come to light recently and I have added these too.

Right - A small version of one of the 1908 fire photographs which can be seen enlarged in the article below. This one is of the Cross Dock behind the stage of the Theatre. Despite the damage it was soon rebuilt and today looks pretty much how it did when first built 200 years ago (See photo left). And the same view of the Cross Dock behind the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2012 - Photo M.L.

These recently discovered fire photographs were taken just 3 days after the fire, on the 28th of March 1908, and are courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox. Dave Spink is an ex G.L.C., man who thoughtfully rescued the photographs from a skip many years ago and has now passed them on to Roger Fox who has sent copies to me for use on the site. I have also added a report from 'The Electrician' of 1908 on the reinstallation of the electrical and lighting equipment after the fire which you can read below. The Stage newspaper article of March 26th 1908 follows:-

DRURY LANE FIRE

SERIOUS DAMAGE TO THE STAGE

AUDITORIUM PRACTICALLY UNHURT

The Stage, March 26, 1908

Early yesterday (Wednesday) morning Drury Lane Theatre had a narrow escape from a catastrophe as complete as that which destroyed the older house in 1809. For nearly a hundred years the theatre has been free from serious fire. Prior to the 1809 disaster one has to go even farther back than 100 years, to the fire of 1672, when not only the theatre itself, but sixty houses were destroyed. That was the original Drury Lane Theatre, opened in 1663. The theatre was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, and reopened in 1674. The following year the interior was rebuilt by Adams, and in 1794 the building was completely reconstructed on a larger scale, being opened the same year. After the last fire of 1809 Wyatt was entrusted with the work of rebuilding the theatre, which was opened with a prologue by Lord Byron. Prior to the house of 1663, there was the Phoenix, and yet before that the house in Cockpit Alley, off Drury Lane, occupied as far back as 1617 by a theatrical company calling themselves the Queen's Servant. For a theatre with so long a history Drury Lane has been fortunate in its comparative freedom from fire. Its good fortune has followed it now in its substantial escape from the total destruction that, but for the early discovery of the fire, the readiness of the firemen on the premises, the protection of the fire-proof curtain and other devices, and the resources of the Fire Brigade, in all probability awaited it.

The wonderful 1812 Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane which survived the fire of 1908 along with the auditorium and the rest of the front of house - Photo M. L. 2011.

Above - A narrow escape - The wonderful 1812 Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane which survived the fire of 1908 along with the auditorium and the rest of the front of house - Photo M. L. 2011.

THE DAMAGE

As it is, while the auditorium has been little affected, the damage on the stage side of the proscenium by fire and water has been heavy indeed. The stage has been almost entirely wrecked; the roof over the stage is gone; there are large holes in the safety curtain; valuable scenery and properties have been damaged; and dressing-rooms have been somewhat damaged. The flies are destroyed; the grids still stand, but a good deal of scenery has been burnt. Although the stage was severely burned, the structure is still secure. The hydraulic lifts are said not to be injured. The batteries are under water, but it is thought they are not ruined.

The Stage Roof of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox.

Above - The Stage Roof of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox. Here you can still see the pulleys and surviving ropes in the now roofless grid of the Theatre.

SAFETY CURTAIN AND LIGHT ROOF

That the stage roof should have gone is by no means as serious a matter as it might seem. Two principles of modern theatre construction, from the point of view of fire, are the fireproof curtain and the light stage roof. As yesterday the fireproof curtain saved the theatre from complete destruction so the lightness of the roof, which enabled the flames to find easy access to the sky, prevented an inrush of draught and smoke into the auditorium.

The Stage and Fire Curtain of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox.

Above - The Stage and Fire Curtain of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox. The lowering of the Fire Curtain is what saved the rest of the Theatre from being destroyed. The scene is lit by daylight flooding in from the destroyed roof of the Theatre's fly tower.

DISCOVERY OF OUTBREAK

The outbreak was discovered shortly after a quarter to five in the morning. A man going home after his work, as he turned into Wild Street, saw smoke issuing from a building and at first it looked as though the L.C.C. lodging-house was on fire. A little farther along, though, he saw clouds of smoke coming from the top of the theatre over the stage end of the building. Running up Kemble Street, he found more smoke coming from the back of the stage, through the walls, and he gave the alarm to the police.

It is said, however, that two of the four firemen on duty at Drury Lane all night discovered the fire blazing in the flies shortly before this alarm was given from outside.

The fire appears to have originated at the back of the stage, a big place packed with inflammable material. The flames had not made much progress before the theatre fire brigade were at work battling with them, and an urgent call was telephoned from the theatre to the fire brigade headquarters.

The Cross Dock behind the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox.

Above - The Cross Dock behind the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox. Despite the damage it was soon rebuilt and today looks pretty much how it did when first built 200 years ago (See photo below).

The Cross Dock behind the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2012 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Cross Dock behind the stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2012 - Photo ML

LOWERING THE CURTAIN

The response was immediate, but during the minutes intervening before the arrival of the first fire engines the fire gained ground with terrible rapidity. Tongues of flame swept upwards, converting the interior from the footlights to the Drury Lane end of the imposing structure into a roaring furnace. As quickly as possible the theatre firemen lowered the huge safety curtain, cutting off the proscenium, and confining the fire to the stage portion of the theatre.

CONTENDING WITH THE FLAMES

The alarm spread rapidly into the Strand and amongst the busy quarters about Covent Garden; and there were hurrying figures in all directions towards the theatre. Engine after engine dashed up, until some forty were in position, and more than two hundred men were directing their efforts towards subduing the flames. The assembling of the engines and the glare of the fire in the sky when the flames pierced the roof caused intense excitement. Captain Hamilton, who was quickly on the spot directing operations, was able to concentrate the efforts of his men on the seat of the mischief, and in a very short space of time twenty or so hydrants were throwing streams of water down through the roof and flies. It appeared for a time as if the flames would obtain the mastery, as every now and then huge fragments of burning cloths and borders, some in course of touching-up for the revival of The Sins of Society, fell through into the cellar beneath the stage, sending up huge volumes of flame and sparks. These sailed over the neighbouring housetops, and the frightened inhabitants of Simmonds's tenements, at the back of the theatre in York Street, gathered in anxious groups at the main doors, and viewed the outlook with no little misgiving. There was also much excitement at the Waldorf Hotel, from the back of which a fine view of the theatre could be obtained. The roofs and fire escapes of the hotel were crowded with visitors and servants.

THE FIRE SUBDUED

Engines and escapes continued to rattle up. Captain Hamilton and his chief officers had the situation well in hand. Captain Hamilton developed his attack. From every quarter the burning material was deluged with water, and the fierce light shining upwards from the proscenium gradually dimmed and died.

Captain Hamilton remained on the scene for some time after the fire, to all appearances, had been got under. This was about 5.30 a.m.

The Drury Lane Fire - View Of The Stage - The Stage, March 26, 1908.

Above - The Drury Lane Fire - View Of The Stage - The Stage, March 26, 1908.

At 6.30 the ruins were still smouldering, and a number of firemen were still at work.

Even though to all appearances the fire was out by ten o'clock, small outbreaks occurred occasionally in the charred beams, and it was nearly eleven before the firemen considered it safe to cease their attack. They were aided in their efforts by the rain, which unceasingly poured down on the unprotected stage.

SCENES OUTSIDE

As has been said, there is a large block of dwellings standing close to the theatre, and constables, when the fire seemed threatening, gained entrance and woke the sleepers by blowing their whistles. Frightened residents streamed out into the street, and many made preparations for the hasty removal of their belongings.

The Stage Door of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in February 2011 - Courtesy Jennie Bisset.At this time horsed and automobile fire engines and firemen were arriving from all parts of London. One of the long ladders was brought into requisition, and a fireman, armed with a hose, appeared on the parapet which runs round the roof. He stood out sharply silhouetted against the fire. But he had to beat a hasty retreat, for the flames, caught by a gust of wind, spread with startling rapidity. In a few minutes, however, he re-appeared on the roof in a more safe position. About this time a crash occurred, part of the upper structure having collapsed. Firemen scaled the high roof and, dragging long lengths of hose after them, poured great streams of water down through the rent.

Right - The Stage Door of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in February 2011 - Courtesy Jennie Bisset.

The immense volume of water proved affective. The smoke became even more dense, and the crash of falling woodwork raised a din that was heard above the roar of the flames. A few minutes later it became possible to approach the fire from all sides, and several lengths of hose were trailed through the stage door. Attracted by the glare of the flames, enormous crowds had by this time assembled in Drury Lane and adjacent streets, and hampered the work of the firemen. But a large force of police were soon on the spot, and the spectators were cleared back.

Before six o'clock the first fire-engine had taken its departure, and the Salvage Corps were in possession. The crowd lingered. As the morning traffic set in thousands were attracted to the spot, and the first reports in some of the papers that the theatre had been burnt down brought large numbers specially up to town to gaze upon the supposed ruins. But happily, they found the entire front of the theatre undamaged even by water, and indeed presenting the appearance of having just been closed for the night.

IN THE AUDITORIUM

A sketch of the original auditorium and stage of the Fourth Theatre Royal Drury Lane as seen from the uppermost box during a performance of 'Little Bo Peep, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hop-O' My Thumb' in 1892. The scene on stage was 'The Grand Hall of a Million Mirrors at the Prince's Palace - From the Graphic, 31st December 1892

Above - A sketch of the original auditorium and stage of the Fourth Theatre Royal, Drury Lane as seen from the uppermost box during a performance of 'Little Bo Peep, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hop-O' My Thumb' in 1892. The scene on stage was 'The Grand Hall of a Million Mirrors at the Prince's Palace - From the Graphic, 31st December 1892 - The auditorium survived the 1908 fire but the stage house was completely gutted.

The Foyer of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in December 2006 - Photo M.L.So admirably, and with such regard to the property as a whole, was the work of the firemen done that it was not found necessary to take a single hose through the front of the building; and so the handsome and stately foyer was saved the effects of mud and water.

Right - The Foyer of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane survived the fire of 1908 - Photo M. L. December 2006.

In front of the fireproof curtain the only appearance of damage is round the proscenium-arch, a portion of which is composed of such light decorative work that it took fire simply through the extraordinary heat. This was quickly extinguished by firemen, who were on the watch on this side of the screen, and as all the seats were carefully covered by heavy waterproof oilcloth, even the water did little or no damage there.

BEHIND THE SCENES

At the back of the stage is the scene dock, where the greater portion of the scenery of The Babes in the Wood and The Sins of Society was stored. Fortunately, most of this scenery was saved, together with the dresses and the contents of the dressing-Roorns. Where the fire raged most, twisted ironwork, charred woodwork, here and there a piece of unrecognisable scenery, together with molten metal and shapeless girders, testify to the fierceness of the outbreak. Fortunately, the main workshop, where the large staff of men which the theatre keeps in almost constant employment are engaged upon their various tasks, was spared the flames.

The Scene Dock and paint frame of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox.

Above - The Scene Dock and paint frame of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox. In this photograph you can see a pulley and a frame full of counterweights which would have been used to pull up cloths for painting. This space is still used as a paint frame today and cloths for many theatre productions are produced here.

DAMAGE AND INSURANCE

The immediate damage must run into many thousands of pounds, and there is also involved the loss of a further considerable sum in connection with the intended new run of The Sins of Society. It will be impossible to present the piece at Drury Lane on April 18, nor is it likely that the play will be seen at another theatre. The piece depends for its spectacular success upon the huge stage.

On inquiring at the offices, we learn that the loss is covered by policies with insurance Companies.

Drury Lane shares were unaffected by the news of the fire yesterday. The company owning the theatre is Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Limited, and it has a capital of £125,000, of which the whole has been subscribed, and £94,001 paid up. During the past nine years the dividends have been respectively 20, 10, 15 for two years, then 20, 10, nil, 5, and 25 per cent.

Mr. Arthur Collins, the managing director of the theatre company, left London for Nottingham on Tuesday, and Mr. Sidney Smith was at Eastbourne. They got the first news of the disaster by telegraph yesterday morning, and left at once for town. Mr. Smith arrived at the theatre shortly before midday, and Mr. Collins soon after. Mr. Collins, after an inspection, said the theatre would be ready in good time for the autumn drama. Mr. Collins has been managing director of the theatre for ten years this month, just half the period of the lesseeship of his predeeessor, Sir Augustus Harris.

The doors at the back of the stage, stage left, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox.

Above - The doors at the back of the stage, stage left, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after the fire of 1908 - Courtesy Dave Spink and Roger Fox. The scene is lit by daylight streaming in from the destroyed roof of the fly tower. Although the fly tower was rebuilt after the fire, and is much higher today, these doors are still in the same place today.

THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Captain Hamilton, the Chief Officer of the London Fire Brigade, records the fire in the following terms:—

Called at 4.37 a.m., Wednesday, to Catherine Street, Strand, to the property of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane Company, Ltd; cause of fire unknown; contents insured in Lloyds; building insured in the Sun. Damage, stage and the contents burned out, and the roof destroyed, scene and property stores and workshops damaged by fire, heat, smoke, and water; rest of building, consisting of auditorium, dressing rooms, etc., slightly damaged by smoke and water (adjoining and communicating).

The above text was first published in The Stage, March 26, 1908.

The Electrical Lighting of Drury Lane Theatre Royal after the fire of 1908

From 'The Electrician' September 18th, 1908

An image of some of the 1908 fire damage to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.On March 25, 1908, the stage of the historic theatre of Drury Lane was completely destroyed by fire, and the daily Press promptly attributed the disaster to some electrical cause. As to how far this was the case may be gathered from the fact that on the previous day the current was switched off at 6 p.m. and the fire alarm sounded at 3:20 a.m. next morning.

Right - An image of some of the 1908 fire damage to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Whatever the cause, a great deal of damage was done, and needless to say most of the electrical equipment was more or less useless. Consequently, after the inevitable delays caused by the assessment for the insurance companies involved, the work of reconstruction was begun, and has been carried through in an extremely short time.

The electrical part of the work has been practically completed in six weeks from the start. To some people this may not seem to be so very short a time after all, but it is difficult to realise without actual inspection the great quantity of work involved; thus it is no exaggeration to say that many miles of cable have been used in connection with the new installation, the whole of the wiring being carried out in screwed tubing, whilst a new design of batten has also been evolved, so that great credit is due to the contractors, Messrs. Pinching & Walton, for the rapid way in which the work has been carried through. This will be better understood when it is stated that owing to the size of the installation, ordinary accessories and fittings could not be used.

In our issue of February 12, 1904, we gave a full account of the electrical equipment of the theatre at that time. A great deal of the present equipment is practically the same as there described. For example, the hoisting gear of the bridges is the same as it was at that time, although it has been necessary to rewind the motors after their experience of being several feet under water. There were also certain parts of the installation which were not affected, as for example, the main services from the supply company. These are in duplicate in order to comply with the regulations of the London County Council, but they are both taken from the mains of the Charing Cross, West End & City Electricity Supply Co. One service is from the regular theatre system of the company, and the other from the lighting system, not that they really form two distinct sources of supply.

A recently introduced feature is the system of ventilation of the stage. It was found that a great deal of discomfort was experienced by that part of the audience sitting in the stalls anywhere near the stage, by what may be described as a waterfall of cold air from the stage into the stalls. In order to check this, warm air is now forced by a fan on to the stage at any point where cold air would come in if this system of ventilation were not adopted, that is at doors, &c. In this way a stream of warm air finds its way on to the stage and rises straight up without passing into the auditorium. Matters can be so adjusted that there is either no passage of air from one to the other, or that the air actually tends to pass from the auditorium on to the stage. The warm air so supplied is forced in by 3 ft. fans of the well-known "Sirocco" type, the air being drawn through sheets of moistened canvas; the latter is fixed on a large horizontal drum, kept rotating so that it is continually moistened with water, the air being then forced through a grid of pipes which are steam heated, somewhat similar to an air cooled condenser, and finally supplied to the required points by ducts in the usual way. In all probability the air now forced in will rise to the top of the building, and will pass through the ventilators, there provided, without further assistance, thus giving a very efficient ventilation. If this does not prove entirely satisfactory, there is provision for fixing a fan for the purpose of extracting the air, similar to one which is already in use above the auditorium.

Beneath the stage is fixed the electric and hydraulic plant for operating the bridges. There is also the dimmer room, the latter being unaltered though rewired. The lights used for illumination-effects consist of white, red and blue, the white lights being naturally more numerous. The dimmer room contains three rows of dimmers corresponding with these three colours. Each large dimmer at present controls 125 35-watt lamps, and each of the smaller dimmers controls 62 30-watt coloured lamp, but each is capable of controlling the 64-watt lamps which were used before the change to metallic filament lamps was made. Recently "Z" metalic filament lamps have been substituted for the carbon lamps. Notwithstanding the fact that most makers of such lamps held the view that they were unsuitable for theatre work on account of the difficulties occasioned by ''dimming". Experience has shown that such lamps are eminently satisfactory, and apparently this erroneous view was only due to the fact that the lamps were tried without modifying the conditions. Naturally the resistances to be inserted in order to dim metallic filament lamps have not the same value as for carbon lamps, and, equally, both kinds of lamps cannot be expected to run in parallel off the same dimmer. Fig. 1 is an illustration of the dimmer board, which is placed on the stage immediately above the dimmer room. Each wheel controls a dimmer, and they can he worked separately or altogether as desired, the three rows corresponding, of course, to the white, red and blue lamps.

(Fig 1) The Dimmer Board at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1908 - From 'The Electrician', 18th of September 1908.

Above - (Fig 1) The Dimmer Board at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1908 - From 'The Electrician', 18th of September 1908.

It might be thought that arc projectors would he used largely in a theatre of this kind for varying the illumination as desired at any particular point. This however, is not the case, partly because the light so obtained is apt to be coloured, and partly because the stage is very large, and such lamps, as a large number of them would be required, would be prohibitive.

In the flies on either side are about 20 oxy-hydrogen projectors, in order to supply those there is an oxygen main and a hydrogen main along each of the galleries, and as these mains are quite small it will be realised that a very simple arrangement is obtained, the necessary supply being taken from india-rubber tubing as desired. Signals are given to the operators by means of red and blue lamps. The supply of oxygen and hydrogen is kept in four very large drums, about 10ft. high, at a pressure of 3 lb. per sq. in. Water is automatically run into these drums to keep up the pressure and they are recharged from the familiar gas cylinders as required.

The new battens, of which there are 12, for lighting the stage are of some interest, as they are of new design. Each is 42 ft. long, only 10½ in. wide, weighs 7 cwt., and contains 250 lamps, so that altogether 3,000 metallic filament lamps are fixed in these battens. Originally such battens were not earthed; in fact earthing was not permitted, but the result of this was that it was impossible to know, generally speaking, if there was any defect in the insulation. Under certain circumstances this may be dangerous. For example, in one case a wire, which had doubtless been used for the flight of a stage fairy, was being drawn up with a weight attached when it came against the metal work of a defective batters. The wire made a good earth, with the result that the weight dropped on to the stage. All the battens are now earthed by earthing the runners, which form the guides for the counterweights on either side of the stage.

(Fig 2) An Elevation of part of a Lighting Batten at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1908, and also the method of suspending it and the cable to the Box in the Flies - From 'The Electrician' 18th September 1908.Fig. 2 shows the arrangement of the wiring for the battens, and it will be seen that it does not cause any obstruction on the stage. When it is remembered that each batten contains 250 lamps and is only 10½ in. wide, the difficulty involved in the design will be apparent. It may be mentioned that the width is a matter of some importance where a great deal of scenery and many other battens have to be handled. Another point of interest is that no tilting of these battens is required, as is often the case with other designs, the distribution of light being varied by merely altering their height.

Right - (Fig 2) An Elevation of part of a Lighting Batten at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1908, and also the method of suspending it and the cable to the Box in the Flies - From 'The Electrician' 18th September 1908.

For connecting up each batten a fuse board is provided, having 11 circuits and lined with uralite. This board is fed by two pairs of 19/16 cables and one pair of 19/14 cables, so as to give the three sections desired, and from each box 22 7/18 cables are taken to feed the batten. The circuits are divided up so that 5 supply white lights, 3 red and 3 blue. The 22 outgoing cables are covered by a canvas hose and pass over a counter-weighted bridle. (See Fig 2.) The latter rises and falls with the batten, and thus unnecessary slack is avoided. In addition to the battens there are 52 hanging lengths for use in various positions as found necessary.

Over the main switchboard is fixed a junction box, 8ft. 6 in. long by 3 ft. wide, into which pass all the cables. From this box they pass through screwed tubing to two other junction boxes a short distance above the one just mentioned. These two boxes are 5 ft. by 4 ft. and 4 ft. by 3ft. respectively. The cables are then taken to twelve iron cased fuse boards, fixed on the fly rail, for the battens referred to above, these have cast-iron bases, 18 in. by 18 in., and each is fitted with three 1½ in. tubes screwed into the box so as to make a solid connection. A special nozzle is fixed at the back of each box, on to which the hose pipe leading to the battens is fixed by means of a special clip.

On the lighting gallery are twelve 25 ampere plugs, these being controlled from a "special effect" board on the stage, which also controls twenty four 25 ampere plugs on the stage floor. This "special effect" board is fed by a pair of 37/12 cables which are run from an independent "intake" room on the other side of the building and fed by a separate service from the mains. The plugs just referred to are of a special, cast-iron cased, type with two pins, and in each instance the tubing is screwed into the plug, so that the installation may be considered watertight throughout. There are also twenty-four 25 amp plugs which are controlled from the main switchboard, and which can be used in connection with the dimmers.

One of the smaller details consists of an electrically operated centrifugal pump, which can be coupled up to a fountain on any part of the stage, the water flowing back to the tank from which it is taken, thus avoiding objectionable damp from water used without any particular means of escape, as is often the case.

The lighting in the auditorium remains as it was, except that metallic filament lamps are being used to a large extent. Adequate control of the lighting is essential in a theatre, so as to avoid danger of panic, but on the other hand, it is necessary that the lighting of the auditorium, as distinct from that of the corridors, should be controlled from the stage. In order to enable the attendants in the auditorium to switch on the lights if necessary, although turned off at the stage, a set of double pole switches has been provided coupled together and worked by a single handle. This handle is generally tied down, but on an emergency the whole of the lights can be thrown over to the other circuit by forcing the handle over.

We are indebted to Mr. Adrian Collins, A.M.Inst.C.E., consulting electrical engineer to the Drury Lane Theatre, for his courtesy in showing us the details of the installation, and to Messrs. Pinching & Walton, the contractors, for supplying us with information in regard to some of the details.

The above article was first published in 'The Electrician', September 18th, 1908.

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

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