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The Duke Of York's Theatre, St. Martin's Lane, London

Formerly - The Trafalgar Square Theatre / Trafalgar Theatre

The Duke Of York's Theatre during the run of 'Doctor Faustus' in May 2016.

Above - The Duke Of York's Theatre during the run of 'Doctor Faustus' in May 2016.

 

 

A programme for 'A Husband in Clover' and Mam'Zelle Nitouche' at the Trafalgar Square Theatre for the 7th of September 1893, a year after the Theatre first opened - Click to see the whole programme.See a Seating Plan for this Theatre with non commercial and independent opinions on the best seats to book - From Seatplan.comSee London's West End TheatresSee Theatreland MapsThe Duke of York's Theatre is situated on St. Martin's Lane in London and originally opened as the Trafalgar Square Theatre on the 10th of September 1892 with a comic Opera called 'The Wedding Eve' by F. Toulmouche, although sadly this was not a great success for the newly opened Theatre.

Right - A programme for 'A Husband in Clover' and Mam'Zelle Nitouche' at the Trafalgar Square Theatre for the 7th of September 1893, a year after the Theatre first opened - Click to see the whole programme.

The Duke of York's Theatre, which was the first to be built on St. Martin's Lane, backs onto the Garrick Theatre in Charing Cross Road, and was designed by the Theatre Architect Walter Emden. The Theatre was constructed by Frank Kirk and built for Frank Wyatt and his wife Violet Melnotte, Violet would later become the first proprietor of the Duke of York's Theatre in Brighton in 1910.

The Theatre's auditorium was constructed on three levels, stalls, dress circle, and upper circle or gallery, with several boxes on all three levels, and the Theatre was unique in that it had real fire places in its auditorium.

The Theatre's name would be changed from The Trafalgar Square Theatre to The Duke Of York's Theatre when it reopened under the new Lesseeship of Cartwright and Dana, with a production of 'Her Advocate' on Thursday the 26th of September 1895.

 

An early Seating Plan for the Duke of York's Theatre

Above - An early Seating Plan for the Duke of York's Theatre

 

Programme detail for 'The Twin Sister' during Charles Frohman's reign at the Duke Of York's Theatre early 1900s.Just prior to the Theatre's original opening as the Trafalgar Square Theatre the ERA printed a review of the building in its 3rd of September 1892 issue saying:- 'The new Theatre is pretty and unpretentious, the general effect being created by the judicious use of cream and gold and yellow tints, the back of the boxes being of a warm russet hue. The corridors are ornamented with coloured portraits of well-known actresses, and the decorations generally are remarkably chaste and refined. The stalls and dress-circle will be entered from St Martin's Lane.

Right - A Programme detail for 'The Twin Sister' during Charles Frohman's reign at the Duke Of York's Theatre early 1900s.

Seating Plan for The Duke of York's Theatre - Pre 1907 -  Click to EnlargeOn the upper-circle tier are a large and ornamental vestibule and a pleasant saloon, with a balcony facing the roadway. The pit entrance is on the north side, and the entrance to the large gallery on the south side.

Left - A Pre 1907 Seating Plan for the Duke of York's Theatre - Click to enlarge.

The theatre is completely isolated, and from each of its four sections an extra exit has been made. It will be lighted by electricity, but in case of need gas will be available. The dressing rooms are in a detached building, connected to the theatre by a short, covered iron bridge; and a broad stone staircase leads from the stage to the open air.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 3rd September 1892.

 

 

A Report on the specifications of the proposed Theatre, 8th December 1890

NEW THEATRE. ST MARTIN'S LANE W.C.
for Miss Violet Melnotte (Mrs Wyatt)

A Sketch of the Front Elevation of the Duke of York's Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.DESCRIPTION - This theatre will be erected on the site of Nos 103, 104, 105 & 106 St Martin's Lane and will be completely isolated. The theatre will be of fireproof construction similar to Terry's, the Court, and the Garrick theatres with the exception of the stage roof which will be of wood with a large lantern light in the middle, as it is understood to be the desire of the Theatres Committee it should be of wood but it can be if preferred fireproof.

Right - A Sketch of the Front Elevation of the Duke of York's Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

The dressing rooms will be erected in an entirely separate block the stage being approached by means of a subway and the flies by a passage formed of corrugated iron both being cut off from the stage by iron doors.

The front will be composed of Grimshill stone and brick with Portland Stone cornices copings weatherings etc. the sides and the Dressing room fronts being of picked stock bricks.

The theatre will consist of four tiers:- Pit Dress Circle, Upper Circle, and Gallery and is entered from St Martin's Lane through a Vestibule with a large Entrance Hall on the Ground level the Dress Circle being entered from each-side as are also the approaches to the Stalls. On the north side of Entrance Hall are placed the stairs leading to the Upper Circle and Saloon which opens on to a Balcony extending over the centre portion of the front .

The Gallery entrance is placed on the S.E. and the Pit on the N.E. corners of the building. There are two separate exits to the Stalls, Upper Circle, Pit and Gallery the Dress Circle having besides the two side exits into the Main Entrance two entirely separate exits. The stage is also provided with a separate exit. The exit accommodation is in excess of that required by the regulations of the County Council.

A Plan of the Duke of York's Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

Above - A Plan of the Duke of York's Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

On each level retiring rooms are provided and the sanitary arrangements will be that of the best description all drains being thoroughly cut off from the building and ventilated and the drains from all W.Cs, Urinals, Lavatories, and Rain water pipes being laid with a good fall to the junction with main sewer.

Over the front portion of the building rooms are provided for the management. All doors will be made to open outwards and all exit doors fitted with automatic locks. The openings in the proscenium wall will be shut off by iron doors tilted to close of themselves. The stage and flies will be of wood the mezzanine of concrete. The stairs from the stage to the mezzanine will be of stone and iron. All rooms off the stage and mezzanine will be shut off by iron doors. The boiler house will be shut off from the stage by solid brick walls and will be entered from a passage from the dressing room stairs and shut off by an iron door. The dressing rooms will be entirely fireproof the floors being of iron and concrete covered with wood. The sanitary arrangements of the dressing room will be of the best description and as before described being properly trapped and ventilated. The stage will be dominated with sprinklers on the non-automatic system and hydrants are also provided on the stage and flies. The theatre will have a thorough system of hydrants throughout the hydrants being let into the walls so as not to project into the corridors. The whole of the steel construction throughout the theatre will be protected by wire and plaster. The staircases will all be of Metallic patent concrete. All woodwork throughout the building will be coated with fireproof paint. The heating will be by means of hot water on the low pressure system. The house will be lighted throughout by electricity. The corridor round the Dress Circle will be constructed so as to slope and by this means the necessity of steps to each, row of seats is avoided. The roof of the stage will be fitted with a large lantern light glazed on top and the sides fitted with fixed louvres with a large exhaust in the centre besides which there are two further exhausts provided. The auditorium will have several self acting exhausts in the roof and round the exhaust in the centre of the dome the roof will be trimmed and the top portion raised and the fibrous plaster of the inner dome perforated so as to allow the air to escape. The space below the ground will be ventilated by shafts in the walls.

A Plan of the Duke of York's Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

Above - A Plan of the Duke of York's Theatre - From 'Modern Opera Houses and Theatres' by Edwin O Sachs, Published 1896-1898, and held at the Library of the Technical University (TU) in Delft - Kindly sent in by John Otto.

MATERIALS - The front in St Martin's Lane will be of Grimshill stone and bricks with Portland stone cornices copings, weatherings &c. The sides and dressing room fronts will be of brick. All brickwork will be executed in mortar composed of blue lias lime and sharp washed sand mixed in the proportion of 3 to l. All concrete in the foundations to be of Portland cement and clean gravel mixed in the proportion of 4 to 1. The concrete of the circles to be composed of coke breeze and cement mixed in the proportion of 3 to 1 and covered on the top with patent metallic concrete composed of the slag of iron cement and sand. The whole of the floors will be constructed in steel filled in with concrete in cement and overlaid with metallic patent concrete and the steel work will be protected on the underside by plaster on wire. The staircases in the interior will be of patent metallic concrete. The roof will be of steel filled in with concrete and covered with patent metallic concrete and on the underside the steel will be protected by plaster on wire and the whole of the ornamental parts will be of fibrous plaster. The floors will have a cement surface or where ornamental mosaic and tiles laid directly on the concrete and where covered with wood it will be laid directly on the concrete. The Pit floor will be of wood blocks laid on the concrete.

ACCOMMODATION - Stalls 155 persons, Dress Circle 115, Upper Circle 140, Pit 400, Gallery 400, 14 Private Boxes 56 (4 persons in each). Total Accommodation 1,266 persons.

This document was rescued, along with many others, from skips at the GLC and Westminster Council, by Dave Spink, and then kindly sent in for inclusion here by Roger Fox.

 

Postcard of the Duke Of York's Theatre 1910The Theatre's name was changed from The Trafalgar Square Theatre to The Duke Of York's Theatre when it reopened under the new Lesseeship of Cartwright and Dana, with a production of 'Her Advocate' on Thursday the 26th of September 1895.

Fragment of a Duke Of York's Theatre programme front for 1902.Right - A Postcard showing the front of the Duke Of York's Theatre in 1910.

Just two years later in 1897 Charles Frohman, the American Theatrical Manager, took over the running of the Theatre and put on a some very successful productions using American Actors which he exchanged for British ones performing there.

Left - A Fragment of a Duke Of York's Theatre Programme front for 1902 which sadly was torn in half and the other half lost.

Frank Wyatt owned the Theatre until his death in 1926 when his wife took over but she sold the Theatre in 1928 to William Hunter.

The Duke Of York's was damaged in the Second World War and closed towards the end of 1940, not reopening again until May of 1943 with a play called 'Shaddow and Substance'.

The Theatre was redecorated in 1950 when new management took over in May of that year. This management saw the Theatre's shortest runs; 'All The Year Round' which opened in October 1951 ran for just three nights, and then 'Thirteen for Dinner', which opened on the 17th of December 1953, closed the same night!

 

Programme detail for 'Merely Mary Ann' during Charles Frohman's reign at the Duke Of York's Theatre early 1900s. Programme detail for 'The Admirable Crichton' during Charles Frohman's reign at the Duke Of York's Theatre in 1902. On the first night of this production the scene-shifters went on strike after the second act and the cast had to shift the scenery themselves.

Above Left - A Programme detail for 'Merely Mary Ann' during Charles Frohman's reign at the Duke Of York's Theatre early 1900s. And Above Right - A Programme detail for 'The Admirable Crichton' during Charles Frohman's reign at the Duke Of York's Theatre in 1902. On the first night of this production the scene-shifters went on strike after the second act and the cast had to shift the scenery themselves.

The Theatre's Facade was renovated and repainted in October 2014 when new gold leaf was added, and the signwriting was replaced (see image below). The Theatre today is one of the West End's most successful playhouses and is rarely dark. The Theatre is currently run by the Ambassador Theatre Group, and you may like to visit their own Website for it here.

 

The Duke Of York's Theatre during the run of 'Neville's Island' in October 2014, and a few days after the Theatre's facade was revealed after its restoration - Photo M.L.

Above - The Duke Of York's Theatre during the run of 'Neville's Island' in October 2014, and a few days after the Theatre's facade was revealed after its restoration - Photo M.L.

The Duke Of York's Theatre looking down St. Martin's Lane towards Trafalgar Square in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

Above - The Duke Of York's Theatre looking down St. Martin's Lane towards Trafalgar Square in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

The Duke Of York's Theatre during the run of Tom Stoppard's 'Rock 'N Roll' in October 2006. - Photo M.L.

Above - The Duke Of York's Theatre during the run of Tom Stoppard's 'Rock 'N Roll' in October 2006 - Photo M.L.

 

 

London's West End Theatres

Adelphi Aldwych Ambassadors Apollo Apollo Victoria Arts Cambridge Criterion Dominion Drury Lane Duchess Duke Of Yorks Fortune Garrick Gielgud Harold Pinter Haymarket Her Majesty's London Coliseum London Palladium Lyceum Lyric New London Noel Coward / Albery Novello Old Vic Palace Peacock Phoenix Piccadilly Playhouse Prince Edward Prince of Wales Queen's Royal Opera House Savoy Shaftesbury St. Martin's Trafalgar Studios / Whitehall Vaudeville Victoria Palace Wyndham's