The Embassy Theatre and Holborn Restaurant, High Holborn and Kingsway, London
Formerly - The Holborn Cinema
Above - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the former Embassy Theatre, High Holborn, today a branch of HSBC - Click to Interact.
The Embassy Theatre in High Holborn, was situated two doors down from the Holborn Restaurant, which was on the corner of Kingsway and High Holborn. The Theatre was a conversion of the earlier Holborn Cinema and the reconstruction was carried out to the designs of the well known Theatre Architect Frank Verity in September 1923.
An Embassy Theatre programme for October 1923 states that:- 'The Directors are grateful to their architect, Mr. Frank Verity, F. R. I. B. A., for his services in surmounting the many difficulties occasioned by the adaptation of the old premises to the new requirements.'
Right - A programme for 'The New Stunt' at the Embassy Theatre, High Holborn for the week of the 1st of October 1923 - More of this programme can be seen below.
The earlier Holborn Cinema, which had a tea lounge on the first floor, was first opened on the 15th of October 1910 and was designed by F. W. Foster for Holborn Cinemas Ltd. But the conversion by Frank Verity in 1923 allowed live variety shows to accompany the film presentations.
The Bioscope of the 6th of December 1923 carried an article stating that - 'An experiment which will be of interest to all exhibitors is to be initiated at the Embassy Theatre, Holborn, next week, by New Era Films, who have taken over this theatre for the purpose of showing an all-shorts programme,' and that - 'It is the intention of New Era Films to show only the cream of the shorts, so that the exhibition of any short film at the Embassy will become a real hall-mark of merit.' - Courtesy Jo Botting.
But this didn't last long and by 1925 the building was in use as a factory for casting metal casements, and would later become a branch of the Midland Bank with offices above, today it is in use as a branch of HSBC, see image top of page.
Left - A Map of Kingsway and High Holborn showing the position of the Holborn Restaurant, the Embassy Theatre, and the Novelty Theatre. - From 'The Fascination of London / Holborn and Bloomsbury' by Sir Walter Besant 1836-1901, which states that the 'Holborn Restaurant forms part of the side of this street; this is a very gorgeous building, and within is a very palace of modern luxury. It stands on the site formerly occupied by the Holborn Casino or Dancing Saloon.'
If you have any more information or images for the Embassy Theatre or Holborn Cinema that you are willing to share, please Contact me.
The New Stunt is a pleasing combination of moving pictures and a Concert Party on the lines of the famous Follies entertainment.
Pictures - not too much, but good. The news in its pleasantest form, and one really good feature picture.
Mr. Arthur Davenport who for eight years was Mr. Pelissier's right hand man when the Follies were making history at the Apollo, is responsible for the Concert Programme.
The ability which carried the Follies through eight successful years at the Apollo is now at your service at the Embassy Theatre.
Costumes by Mme. Russton, 6a, Maddox St, W.
Gentlemen's suits tailored by Alfred Vandervelde, 19, Gerrard Street, W. I.
Stage Decorations by Waring & Gillow.
Electrical Effects by Rockall & Co.
Acting Manager - REGINALD WOOD.
Musical Director - HARRY JOSEPH.
Press Representative - C. ALLIN GREEN.
Right - Programme detail from 'The New Stunt' at the Embassy Theatre, High Holborn for the 1st of October 1923.
Above - Programme detail from 'The New Stunt' at the Embassy Theatre, High Holborn for the 1st of October 1923.
Also see: Ernest Woodrow's Article on the King's Hall of The Holborn Restaurant Here
Above - A Postcard of the Holborn Restaurant in the 1920's - Courtesy Alan Bailey
The Holborn Restaurant is at the corner of Kingsway (the new route to the Strand) and opposite here is Southampton-row, which, leading to Russell-sq, has become a great centre for hotels and boarding-houses of different styles (temperance as well as others) suitable to middle-class visitors - Charles Dickens Jr. et al, Dickens Dictionary of London, c.1908.
A visitor to the site, Alan Bailey' has recently sent in some information and images for the Holborn Restaurant, he writes: 'My Mother in her teens (now sadly departed) worked at the Holborn Restaurant as a Waitress, she remembered encounters with The Western Brothers and other artistes of the day who appeared there. Above the Restaurant was a Masonic Hall where my father was a Mason and that's how they met. I have a postcard photo of the building in those days and a 'Mappin & Webb' silver tankard with the Restaurant monogram on it, also a book of matches with same.' Alan Bailey.
Right - Notice of a Freemason's meeting at the Masonic Hall above
the Holborn Restaurant, sent to Alan Bailey's father in 1934 - Courtesy
The Holborn Restaurant was a very large building which was popular with clubs and societies. The British Chess Federation was founded there in 1904 and when in 1908 the Olympic Games were held in London, a series of banquets were given at the restaurant for the participating athletes.
Left - Matchbook from the Holborn Restaurant - Courtesy Alan Bailey.
The Restaurant was also a popular venue for Masonic meetings and, like many hotels and restaurants in London at that time, the premise contained a specially built Masonic temple. The Holborn Restaurant was closed in 1954 and converted into offices.
Right - Monogrammed tankard bearing the words 'Holborn Restaurant
- Courtesy Alan Bailey.
Also see: Ernest Woodrow's Article on the King's Hall of The Holborn Restaurant Here
Above - Postcard showing Kingsway from High Holborn. The Embassy Theatre was to the right of the Holborn Restaurant and out of view in this picture. To the left you can see Holborn Underground station and to the far left is the London Opera House - Back of card reads "Kingsway - This magnificent modern thoroughfare extends from Holborn to the Strand, and consists mainly of elegantly designed public and private offices. The building at the far distance is Bush House, while that on the right is the famous Holborn Restaurant. The tramway travels underneath Kingsway." - Courtesy Dave Gregory of 'Postcards of the Past.'
Above - Photograph showing Kingsway in 2008 from the same position as the postcard above, albeit at a lower angle. The Holborn Restaurant has been replaced by a new building housing shops and offices, just visible to the right of the image. - Photo M.L. 2008.
Above - The building currently on the site of the former Holborn Restaurant, High Holborn and Kingsway in 2008 - Photo M.L.
Holborn Restaurant Medallion, July 9th, 1896
A visitor to the site, Ron Cheek, has recently sent in this medallion or coin from the Holborn Restaurant which was presented by the proprietors of the restaurant to the Hon Nahum Chapin on July the 9th 1896. (Nahum Chapin was a prominent citizen and a successful distiller in Boston and a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts (AHAC)). The occasion was given by the AHAC for the Honourable Artillery Company of London and was reported in the Glasgow Herald on the 10th of July 1896 who said:
'The Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company of Massachusetts last night give a banquet at the King's Hail, Holborn Restaurant, which was attended by a numerous company. The banquet was given in compliment to the Honourable Artillery Company of London. Colonel Henry Walker presided, and among those present were the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught, the Lord Chancellor, the Hon. T. F. Bayard (American Minister), the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Earl of Denbigh, the Bishop of Marlborough, the Hon. P. A. Collins (Consul-General, U.S.A.), Viscount de Vesci, General Sir H. E. Wood, Lord Colville of Culross, General Lord Methven. General Sir Redvers Buller, Major-General Field-Marshal Sir Donald Stewart, Geoeral Ellis. Sir Henry Irving, Sir Charles Hall, Sir Donald A. Smith, &c.
The Hall was decorated with the national flags of England and the United States. Dinner being over, the Chairman rose, amid cheers, to propose the toast of " The Queen." Having first welcomed the Prince of Wales to the Gathering, he said they of the Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company stood that night on British soil; it was their Fatherland, and they had not forgotten it. (Cheers.) The glorious history of this empire was never brighter than in the last three score years, when it had won the respect of the world and had seen a career of prosperity, extension of power, and increase of wealth never paralleled in her history. Her Majesty, whose queenliness as a woman, whose womanliness as a Queen, had for three-score years clothed both throne and home with purity, dignity, and honour, had won the respect and admiration of the world (loud cheers) and her words and counsels had ever been for peace between the two great Anglo-Saxon people. (Renewed cheers.) They tendered her their sincerest thanks for her gracious act of yesterday, in which they all took so much pride, and he knew all of them would respond most heartily to the toast of the health of the Queen. (Loud cheers.) The toast was enthusiastically honoured.
The Prince of Wales then rose, and was greeted with prolonged cheering. He said Colonel Walker and gentlemen, the privilege is now afforded to me to propose the next toast. Before I do so, I am anxious to express to Colonel Walker how deeply touched I have been with the kind terms in which he proposed the Queen's health. Holding the position I do as the Queen's senior subject, I feel sure I may say with all my other fellow-subjects of the Queen, how grateful we are for the kind way in which this toast has been proposed. (Cheers.) I know how grateful the Queen has been to see you, Colonel Walker, and your distinguished corps at Windsor (hear, hear) and that the same feeling's animate her as they do me in our strong liking and affection for your great country. (Cheers.) It is a long time, I regret to say, since I was last in America. I have not forgotten the reception I met with on that occasion, nor do I forget President Buchanan, and how kindly he received me when I went to Washington. It is now my privilege to propose the health of his successor, your President. (Cheers.) I give you the health of the President of the United States. The toast having been duly honoured, three cheers, led by His Royal Highness were given for the President.' - Glasgow Herald, 10th July 1896.
Above - The insignia on the medallion from the Holborn Restaurant which was presented to the Hon Nahum Chapin in July 1896 - Courtesy Ron Cheek.
Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.
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