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The London Pavilion, 1, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster

Formerly - The London Pavilion Music Hall, 4½, Tichbourne Street
Now - Ripley's Believe it or not Museum

The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.

Above - The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.

 

See Theatreland MapsThe prominent building which dominates the north side of Piccadilly Circus today, and is now in use as London's version of Ripley's Believe it or not Museum, is actually the former London Pavilion Music Hall. The Theatre was constructed by the Peto Brothers with an interior designed by James Ebenezer Saunders and elevations by R. J. Worley, and was at the time the most lavishly appointed variety hall yet seen in London. The London Pavilion opened on Monday the 30th of November 1885 and was the first building erected at the Piccadilly Circus end of the then newly created Shaftesbury Avenue, and was for many years one of the most popular music halls in London.

The original London Pavilion Music Hall in 1880 - Click to enlarge.The present London Pavilion was however, the second music hall with this name to be built in the area. The first building was in Tichbourne Street, part of which is now Windmill Street, and was originally an entertainment room attached to the Black Horse Inn. The Music Hall, which was designed by the architect Mr. Wood of 35, Foley-Street, and was constructed by roofing in an irregularly shaped yard attached to the Inn, was built for Loibl and Sonnhammer and opened in 1859.

Right - The original London Pavilion Music Hall in 1880. - Click to enlarge.

This first London Pavilion was said to have been designed in the Swiss style, in reports in contemporary newspapers, and the scenery for the Hall was created by Mr. Wallace with the chandeliers being created by Defies & Son. There was no charge for entrance to the Hall.

The ERA carried a notice about the London Pavilion in their 23rd of October 1859 edition saying: 'This magnificent establishment, fitted up most luxuriously and elegantly is now open. When lit up the Pavilion is really gorgeous. The Cafe and Smoking Saloons are fitted up with regard to comfort, and well supplied with periodicals. The refreshments first-class. American and Dutch Bowls, Jardin d'Hiver, Music, Promendae, and Rifle Galleries. Sarkozy will preside over the Orchestra. The inimitable Sam Collins every night - Admission free.' - The ERA, 23rd October1859.

 

Just readable on the Bill were Mr. G H Macdermott, Mr. James Fawn, Mr. Arthur Lloyd, Mr. Fred Albert, and Mis Bessie Bellwood.The Pavilion was an instant success and would be reconstructed several times over the following years. In November 1860 the Hall was reopened after a short closure for reconstruction consisting of 'enlarging and improving' the Music Hall. A notice in the ERA stated: 'If you wish to spend a pleasant evening come and try. Admission, by refreshment-ticket, Sixpence. Six of the most splendid Bowling Alleys, open daily at Twelve O'clock, pm.' - The ERA, 18th November 1860.

Left - Just readable on the sign attached to the old London Pavilion and shown in the photograph above were Mr. G H Macdermott, Mr. James Fawn, Mr. Arthur Lloyd, Mr. Fred Albert, and Miss Bessie Bellwood.

The auditorium of the first London Pavilion Music Hall after it had been enlarged several times and galleries had been added in 1862.Indeed the London Pavilion was so popular that in 1862 a gallery was added to the north and east sides of the building, and then furthur 'improvements' were carried out in 1876.

Right - The auditorium of the first London Pavilion Music Hall after it had been enlarged several times and galleries had been added in 1862.

A notice in the Era on the 17th of July 1870 read: 'The London Pavilion. Unequaled for its Amusements and universally patronised as a favourite Lounge. First-rate Talent continues to grace the Programme, which embraces a fund of popular Entertainment. The risible faculties are kept in perpetual motion by Arthur Lloyd, J. H. Stead (“the Cure”) and Harry Liston; whilst the more serious disposed have ample to admire in the effective singing of Miss Ada Herminie and Miss Barrie. In Serio-Comic, Miss Kate Bella continues to shine; as a Necromancer Professor Beaumont still astonishes and as the Great Lady Tenor Miss Florence Wreghitt is incomparable. The Sisters Lotto and Jessie, the Sisters Lindon (Comic Duettists), James Doughty and his Performing Dogs and Messrs. Lawson and Garte (the amusing “blacks”), are also added to the numerous attractions.' - The Era – 17th July 1870.

In 1878 Loible announced that there would be further enhancements to the London Pavilion and he created a competition for architects to design plans for the enlargement of the Theatre. The winner was announced at a dinner on the 30th of May 1878 and the successful architect was J. T. Robinson. However, progress was halted by land transactions for the creation of a major new road which was to be constructed nearby called Shaftesbury Avenue. Consequently the site of the London Pavilion, then under the ownership of R. E. Villiers, was acquired by the Metropolitan Board of Works and the Music Hall closed on March the 25th 1885 and was then demolished.

 

An image of Tichbourne Street around 1802 showing (near right) Week's Museum, the building which would later become part of the first London Pavilion, and the building which preceded the Black Horse Inn which had not yet been built at this time. However, the London Pavilion had been so successful in its earlier form that it would soon be rebuilt into a magnificent Theatre and it is said that it was Arthur Lloyd's success in the old Hall that made the building of the new one possible, partly because he became such a regular and ever popular fixture there over the years, and partly, because of his great success there.

A programme for the London Pavilion with Arthur Lloyd on the Bill in February 1st 1892. Click to see the entire programme. Right - A programme for the London Pavilion with Arthur Lloyd on the Bill in February 1st 1892. Click to see the entire programme.

As mentioned above, the old system of free entry was gradually transformed into a pricing structure based on ticket sales as a means of entry to the Hall. Something which would soon catch on all over London and the Provinces.

Left - An image of Tichbourne Street around 1802 showing (near right) Week's Museum, the building which would later become part of the first London Pavilion, and the building which preceded the Black Horse Inn which had not yet been built at this time.

In an interview with Arthur Lloyd by The ERA in July 1890 Arthur says that: "he remembers when admission to the Pavilion was free, and the management recouped themselves by charging sixpence for every glass of liquor sold. At that time it was not always crowded, but gradually the attendance got larger, then sixpence and a shilling were imposed as the prices. In the process of years two rows of the pit were set apart as stalls, and two shillings charged, and so, little by little, the present elaborate and costly palaces of amusement were formed."

 

Click to see Special Feature on this London Pavilion Programme for July 1892.Speaking of the London Pavilion to the ERA on another occasion Arthur said: "Here I was an enormous favourite; and I am sure Mr Loibl would be the first to acknowledge that my popularity contributed very largely to the prosperity of the place, though I got nothing like the salary that a star of equal magnitude can command today. Then the best seats in the place could be had for sixpence.

Left - Click to see a Special Feature on this London Pavilion Programme for July 1892.

I constantly tried to persuade Loibl to increase the price, and he did so tentatively, till at length the whole floor, with the exception of a promenade, consisted of half-crown seats. The climax was reached when at great outlay Mr Loibl bought Kahn’s museum and was able to utilise it’s site for structural improvement of the Pavilion." - Arthur Lloyd, July 1890.

 

The Second and Present London Pavilion

Early postcard of the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London.

Above - An early postcard of the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus, London.

The construction of Shaftesbury Avenue in 1885 and the reconstruction of the streets which faced it, Piccadilly, Regent Street, and the Haymarket, resulted in the creation of Piccadilly Circus much as we see today, and a new building on a grand scale was constructed as its centerpiece, the new London Pavilion.

The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.

Above - The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.

Programme for Arthur Lloyd at the London Pavilion 1886 - Click to enlargeThe new London Pavilion opened on Monday the 30th of November 1885 with a Music Hall Bill, preceded by a performance of 'God Save the Queen' followed by 'God Bess the Prince of Wales' which was sung by the Pavilion Choir and Miss Constance Loseby singing the solo verses. Arthur Lloyd, who had been such a regular at the old Hall, was here for the opening of the new one too, accompanied by many of the leading players of the day.

Right - A Silk programme featuring Arthur Lloyd at the London Pavilion on Monday the 15th of February 1886, just a few months after the Theatre opened - Click to enlarge.

The Entr'acte printed a review of the opening night production at the new London Pavilion in their 5th of December 1885 edition saying: 'After Miss Loseby had retired from the stage, there began what we may describe as the entertainment of the music-hall proper. Messrs. De Voy, Leclercq and Co. tendered one of their farcical sketches, and were followed by Miss Amy Verte, a lady who contributed a series of characteristic dances in the costumes which she adopted with much celerity.

The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.The Sisters Watson sang duets, and repeated their mimicry of that inane specimen of humanity called the "masher;" while Miss Rosee Heath sang tunefully, and danced neatly and cleverly. Mr. Harry Randall was the first comique to assert himself, and it may be said that he did this in a manner which testified to the song influence he exercises over a miscellaneous audience. His songs were vociferously applauded. Next to Mr. Randall came Miss Alice Brookes, a tuneful singer and an admirably neat dancer; while to her succeeded Mr. Pat Feeney, an excellent Irish comedian, the whole of whose expressed sentiments were not, however, entirely in favour on Monday.

Left - The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.

Mr. Fred Albert followed on with his usual topical staple, and was succeeded by the Pavilion Choir, who sang "Faerie Voices" under circumstances which could scarcely be called cheering. Then Madame Garetta tendered her pretty entertainment with her army of handsome pigeons. Mr. Chirgwin with his budget of eccentricities created plenty of merriment by his humorous references and his manifestations of light comedy, and Mr. Arthur Lloyd prospered well until his political references caused just a little fermentation.

 

The London Pavilion still sporting its original name if you look hard enough, in January 2011 - Photo M. L. 2011.Mr. G.H. Macdermott was so out of voice as to be unable to sing; but to show there was nothing like an intended breach of faith, the popular comedian was brought to the footlights by Mr. Villiers just to speak an excuse, and thus show the honourableness of his intentions. Mrs. Lennard Charles sang with excellent spirit and with success, and the Pinauds gave one of the very best grotesque "shows" that has ever been tendered on any stage, which Mr. G.W. Hunter exhibited all that dryness which has brought him such a fund of popularity.

Right - The London Pavilion still sporting its original name if you look hard enough, in January 2011 - Photo M. L. 2011.

Miss Nellie Richards negotiated a new lease of favour by her tuneful contributions, and Mr. Charles Godfrey again afforded proof of his power to do justice to that material where manifestations of dramatic force are vitally necessary. Miss Nelly Farrell in genuinely Irish song once more asserted her supremacy, while the last feature of the programme was supplied by the Frediani Troupe, who gave an acrobatic display. During the evening Mr. Villiers, in a few happy phrases, addressed the audience.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Entr'acte, 5 December 1885.

 

A sketch of the auditorium of the 1885 London Pavilion which shows the ornate work of the Plastic Decoration Company. The Theatre was constructed by the Peto Brothers with an interior designed by James Ebenezer Saunders and elevations by R. J. Worley, at the time it was the most lavishly appointed variety hall yet seen in London.

Above - A sketch of the auditorium of the 1885 London Pavilion which shows the ornate work of the Plastic Decoration Company. The Theatre was constructed by the Peto Brothers with an interior designed by James Ebenezer Saunders and elevations by R. J. Worley, at the time it was the most lavishly appointed variety hall yet seen in London.

 

A silk programme for the London Pavilion, with Arthur Lloyd on the Bill, for the 6th of December 1886 - Courtesy Phill Winer. A couple of weeks before the new London Pavilion opened the ERA visited the building and printed a report on its construction in their 21st of November edition saying: 'One of the most remarkable features in connection with the recent improvements in the neighbourhood of Piccadilly-circus has been the rate of pulling down the old London Pavilion and putting up a new one in its place. The old building was closed after the performance on March 25th, and within a week from that date the ground was cleared. The excavations for the foundations of the new buildings were commenced, and by May 11th the first of the foundation bricks was laid. By May 18th the brickwork was level with the Street, and the first of the stones was laid. The stones, from Westwood ground, near Box, a quarry of "Bath Stone," were shaped before being taken to the building, and, as the use of the electric light enabled continuous progress to be made, the stonework of the building was finished by July 30th.

Right - Another silk programme for the London Pavilion, with Arthur Lloyd on the Bill, for the 6th of December 1886 - Courtesy Phill Winer.

The structure will always hold this place in the history of London building - that it is the first in which electric light has been employed for night work, and is, for its size, the most rapidly erected. The work certainly reflects great credit on the skill and energy of Messrs Peto Brothers, who were entrusted with the building. Those who, judging by the palatial block from without, expect to find the New London Pavilion double the size of the old one, will be not a little disappointed. The holding capacity of the auditorium is certainly larger, but it must still be called a small hall, and the idea of smallness will perhaps be enhanced by the presence of no fewer than fourteen private boxes. The splendid height of the interior, though, will come as a welcome surprise to every visitor, whose surprise will give place to delight when it is discovered that there is a sliding roof, and that the ceiling decorations, as well as the allegorical paintings over the proscenium, are of the most artistic character, being from the brush of Signor Codina.

 

An undated postcard of the London Pavilion in its early years.The whole of the work of decoration has been designed and carried out by Mr E. W. Bradwell, whose son, by-the-way, has contributed some very pretty and effective floral paintings to walls and mirrors. The general scheme of decoration is in cream and gold, and in the private-box lounge the eye will be pleased with the rich renaissance patterns in crimson and gold that cover the doors and the walls; and that, with the handsome mirrors, give the whole place an appearance of elegance and comfort in pleasant combination.

Left - An undated postcard of the London Pavilion in its early years.

The first balcony, with private boxes like the commodious one above it, is supported on handsome pillars, and it is noticeable that all the staircases are fitted with handrails as an additional means of safety when the building is crowded. All the floors are fitted with elegantly appointed lavatories, and as an instance of the liberality with which Mr Villiers has gone to work we may mention that that for ladies on the grand tier is approached by marble steps.

The stage is of good proportions, and is fitted with all the latest appliances. There are commodious dressing-rooms for the artists who may be engaged, and we observe that the height of the building will admit of the lifting of scenery without rolling. The electric light, as well as gas, will be used for the illumination of the building, and we may repeat that for those who may be privileged to attend on the opening night a surprise is in store. The event is fixed for Monday, the 30th inst., and so great is the demand for seats already that we learn on good authority that as much as £20 has been offered for a private box. Through the courtesy of Mr Villiers, who, by-the-way, will retain the services of the indefatigable Mr Sam Adams for the position of manager, we are able to give some idea of the inaugural proceedings. The National Anthem will be sung ay the whole company and full chorus, who will follow with "God Bless the Prince of 'Wales," the solo verses being taken by Miss Constance Loseby, who subsequently will have the honour of singing the first song on the stage of the new establishment. Then the strong company engaged will proceed with their turns, and that a liberal programme will be supplied the following names will show. They are Charles Godfrey, G. W. Hunter, Arthur Lloyd, Pat Feeney, Fred Albert, Chirgwin, G. H. Macdermott, De Voy and Leclercq, Harry Randall, the Pinauds, in a new entertainment exclusively prepared for this hall, Mrs Lennard Charles, Miss Jessie Mayland, Miss Amy Verte, Miss Alice Brooks, Miss Rosee Heath, the Sisters Watson, Miss Nellie Richards, Miss Nellie Farrell, Madame Garetta, and the Frediani Troupe. The Pavilion choir will supplement the list, and by permission will sing the popular "Fairie Voices."'

The above text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 21st November 1885.

 

London Pavilion Programme February 1st 1892 with Arthur Lloyd  - Click to see entire programme Click to see Special Feature on this London Pavilion Programme for July 1892. 1894 London Pavilion Programme - Click to Enlarge 1898 London Pavilion Programme - Click to Enlarge 1900 London Pavilion Programme - Click to Enlarge 1902 London Pavilion Programme - Click to Enlarge 1908 London Pavilion Programme - Click to Enlarge 1913 London Pavilion Programme - Click to Enlarge

Above - From Left to Right - London Pavilion programmes for 1892 1892 1894 1898 1900 1902 1908 1913 - Click for details.

 

The London Pavilion was remodeled in 1900 and although it was still used for music hall and variety in the early part of the century, by 1912 it had started to become home to a string of musicals, starting with 'Oh! Molly' on September the 2nd that year. This was followed by 'The Ha'rum Lily on December 9th. 1913 saw 'The Passing Show opening on August 4th then 'Alice-Up-to-Date' on December 29th. In 1914 'A Lucky Miss' was produced, opening on the 13th of July, and the following year, 1915, saw 'Honi Soit' opening on September the 6th. 'Pick-a-Dilly' opened on the 18th of April 1916 and then 'Cheerio!' on February 21st 1916 and 'Any Old Thing' on December the 8th the same year.

Cochran's Review 1926Phi PhiFun of the FairIn 1918 C. B. Cochran took over the building but the musicals continued unabated with 'As You Were' opening on August the 3rd and 'Afgar' which opened on September the 17th 1919 and was the first of the London Pavilion musicals to be recorded. 'The Fun of the Fayre' opened on October the 17th 1921 and the second original cast recording of a musical at the Pavilion was produced to celebrate it. In 1922 'Phi-Phi opened on August the 16th and in 1923 'Dover Street to Dixie' opened on May the 31st. 1925 saw 'On With the Dance' opening on April the 30th, which was Noel Coward’s first important Revue show, originally titled 'Cochran's’ Revue' prior to its opening in London. Then in 1926 the first of Cochran's Revues by name opened at the London Pavilion on April the 29th, carrying the name 'Cochran's Revue of 1926'.

Postcard showing Piccadilly Circus and the London Pavilion, advertising Cochran's Revue

Above - A Postcard showing Piccadilly Circus and the London Pavilion, advertising 'Cochran's Revue'. There are several buses in the photo advertising 'Here Comes the Bride' at the Piccadilly Theatre, this opened on the 20th of February 1930 and ran for 175 performances so the photo would have been taken around that time.

 

November 1926 saw the opening of 'Black Birds' at the Pavilion. This was followed by the opening of 'One Dam Thing After Another' on May the 20th 1927. On March the 22nd 1928.'This Year of Grace' opened at the Pavilion and was followed by 'Lucky Girl' in January 1929, and 'Wake up and Dream' on march the 27th the same year. 1930 saw 'Cochran's Review of 1930 open, followed by 'Cochran's Review of 1931' the following year.

Black Birds One Dam Thing After Another This Year of GraceLucky Girl Cochran's Review of 1930 Non Stop Variety

 

1932 saw a return to Variety at the London Pavilion, often entitled 'Non Stop Variety', (See Programme above right) but the last of these variety shows ended on the evening of the 7th of April 1934 when the building was closed for conversion to a Cinema.

Conversion works began shortly after the Theatre's closure in April 1934 and were carried out by Frank Matcham & Company to the designs of their architect F. G. M. Chancellor.

The commemorative Stone of the London Pavilion originally laid in 1885 - Photo M.L. August 2009.The conversion cost £70,000 and was constructed by F. G. Minter Ltd and Trollope & Colls Ltd. Works included the removal of the boxes, enlargement of the proscenium, removal of all the original decorative plasterwork, and enlargement of the foyer.

The penultimate programme for the London Pavilion in it's 1885 form - March 26th 1934 - Click to see more of the programme and press cuttings about the conversion to a cinema.Left - The penultimate variety programme for the London Pavilion in its 1885 form for March the 26th 1934 - Click to see more of the programme and press cuttings about the conversion to a cinema.

The conversion took 21 weeks and the London Pavilion reopened on the 5th of September the same year as a 1,200 seat Cinema with stage facilities.

Right - The commemorative Stone of the London Pavilion originally laid in 1885 by Robert Edwin Villiers and then added to in 1933 by Trollope & Colls Limited for the reconstruction of the Theatre for Cinema use.

The Stone is placed on the Western elevation towards the rear of the Theatre facing Shaftesbury Avenue and reads: 'This stone, the first in the new street was laid by Robert Edwin Villiers 8th June 1885 - Reconstructed by Trollope & Colls Limited 1933.' - Photo M.L. August 2009.

Cinema would then go on to be the main attraction at the Pavilion for many decades, although there was one last musical produced there, called 'Over She Goes' which opened on September the 23rd 1936. The London Pavilion was to become a very successful Cinema and was home to several box office smashes and major premiers including the Beatles 'Help' and 'A Hard Days Night' and several Bond Films.

 

The London Pavilion during the run of 'Dual Alibi' with Herbert Lom and Phyllis Dixey in 1947 - Courtesy Oliver Dixey

Above - The London Pavilion during the run of 'Dual Alibi' with Herbert Lom and Phyllis Dixey in 1947 - Courtesy Oliver Dixey

The London Pavilion advertising 'Rock Around The Clock' with Bill Haley and his Comets and the Platters in a photograph taken on the 30th of July 1956 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

Above - The London Pavilion advertising 'Rock Around The Clock' with Bill Haley and his Comets and the Platters in a photograph taken on the 30th of July 1956 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

The London Pavilion advertising 'This is Baby Doll' in a photograph taken on the 3rd of January 1957 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

Above - The London Pavilion advertising 'This is Baby Doll' in a photograph taken on the 3rd of January 1957 - Courtesy Allan Hailstone.

A wonderful Colour Photograph shot in Coventry Street in 1959 / 60 showing the corner of the London Pavilion during the run of the film 'Some Like It Hot'  -  Courtesy Lyle K. Anibal

Above - A wonderful Colour Photograph shot in Coventry Street in 1959 / 60 showing the corner of the London Pavilion during the run of the film 'Some Like It Hot' with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The film's London Premier was at the London Pavilion on the 14th of May 1959 - Photograph Courtesy Lyle K. Anibal whose father Lyle W. Anibal was in the U.S. Air Force at the time and took the photo whilst he was stationed in London.

Sadly the Pavilion's Cinema success was not to last forever and on the 26th of April 1981 the London Pavilion closed as a Cinema for the last time and then remained dark for many years whilst all sorts of proposals for it future were proposed. Eventually in 1986 the Theatre was completely gutted for conversion into shops and tourist attractions including Madame Tussauds 'Rock Circus.'

 

Demolition of the interior of the London Pavilion in 1986

Above - Demolition of the interior of the London Pavilion in 1986 - From 'The History of the London Pavilion' a book commissioned by Grosvenor Square Properties Group PLC to celebrate the opening of the refurbished building on the 22nd of July 1988.

 

The London Pavilion covered in advertising signs which is how it remained until the building's exterior was restored in 1986.The conversion in 1986 saw the interior of the London Pavilion completely gutted but the exterior was restored to its former 1885 grandeur, and was seen for the first time for decades without the plethora of neon signs which had previously adorned the building. Two stories were also added to the top of the building and the whole scheme was carried out to the designs of Chapman Taylor Architects. The London Pavilion reopened on the 22nd of July 1988.

Right - The London Pavilion covered in advertising signs which is how it remained until the building's exterior was restored in 1986.

 

The London Pavilion in November 2007, whilst branded as part of the London Trocadero - Photo M. L. 07.In the 1990s an underground passage was created between the London Pavilion and the Trocadero and the whole complex was rebranded The Trocadero with various shops, cinemas, arcades, and restaurants such as the rainforest Cafe and Planet Hollywood utilising the space.

Left - The London Pavilion in November 2007, whilst branded as part of the London Trocadero - Photo M. L. 07.

The Madame Tussauds 'Rock Circus' attraction at the London Pavilion closed in September 2001.

The London Pavilion has now been rebranded again and is home to the London version of 'Ripley's Believe It or Not!' which opened in August 2008.

 

The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.

Above - The London Pavilion in January 2011, now the Ripley's Believe it or not Museum - Photo M. L. 2011.

 

The London Pavilion - From 'Fifty years of a Londoner's life'
by Henry George Hibbert 1916

A photograph of the London Pavilion in 1896

Above - A photograph of the London Pavilion in 1896

A Postcard of the London Pavilion in its early years.There is no more remarkable instance of the development of the music hall than that furnished by the London Pavilion, though it has no claim to antiquity, and though at this moment it seems to be backward in the race. Half-a-century ago it was a typical "sing- song." Many a still active noceur can remember when in return for a trifling payment at the door he received a voucher entitling him to its full equivalent in drink or tobacco to be consumed at scattered tables. Then, the Pavilion became the first music hall de luxe at the West End. It was floated as a limited liability company, and began an epoch of frenzied finance, from the effects of which the variety theatre as a commercial enterprise has hardly yet recovered. The immense profits earned by the London Pavilion appealed to the imagination, especially of the ultra respectable investor. Clergymen and district visitors abounded among its shareholders.

Right - A Postcard of the London Pavilion in its early years.

Half the music halls in the city were seized upon by unscrupulous promoters, who filled their own pockets and, for the most part, left their dupes to face a scandalous liquidation. From such a debacle some of the finest properties of to-day were raised. But many music halls which in private hands had prospered fairly well were long hampered by overcapitalisation and discredited by the unimpressive, or worse, character of their directorates.

As for the Pavilion, it is built on the stable-yard of an inn, wherein some of the paraphernalia of the funeral of the Duke of Wellington was prepared. For a long time the adjoining Black Horse Inn enjoyed a right of light by way of a window, into the hall; and a solicitor was sent to negotiate, with plenary powers and a cheque-book, the troublesome aperture. He found a new landlord, who rudely interrupted his overtures with the remark: "If you've come to talk about that cursed window you can save your breath. I've had it bricked up this very morning ! "

 

Press Cutting for Arthur Lloyd at the London Pavilion August 30th 1902. The gallery of the first hall had but two sides. The third was occupied by a horrible collection of "scientific" specimens called Dr Kahn's Museum, whose last owner was the father of a now distinguished actor. The first proprietors of the London Pavilion, Loibl and Sonnhammer by name, made much money out of Arthur Lloyd, among the first performers habitually styled "Great," who persuaded them to abolish the refreshment coupon, and to establish a scale of admission prices. It is a curious characteristic of the London Pavilion that it has always been dependent on a particular comic singer - in succession, Leybourne, Macdermott, Charles Coborn, Dan Leno.

Left - A Press Cutting for Arthur Lloyd at the London Pavilion on August the 30th 1902.

Sonnhammer separated from Loibl, and established Scott's Restaurant. Loibl a while later made a monstrous deal with the old Metropolitan Board of Works, to whom he sold the property for £109,347. He set up his sons, Edward and Robert, in a well-known bric-a-brac shop in Wardour Street, and himself ran Long's Hotel. The Pavilion was leased to Edward Villiers, who had been a pompous and uninteresting comedian at the Haymarket, and one of many managers of the Canterbury Music Hall. First as lessee and manager of the Pavilion, then as the dominant director of its board, he proved a shrewd financier and an astute showman. In 1882 the Referee charged him with permitting "foul and festering stuff to be brazed forth in defiance of decency and decorum," and paid £300 for the privilege. Villiers lived to a great age; so did his colleague and survivor, Hugh Astley, a brother of jolly old sporting Sir John. Astley's attitude as chairman of a board meeting, when an expensive engagement was under consideration, was masterly, " It's a lot of money," he would say, nodding sagaciously. " It's a devilish lot of money. Of course if the fellow's a draw - there you are. But if he's not - where are you ? " a pronouncement which always left him free to comment on the event: " What did I always tell you? "

A postcard showing the London Pavilion in 1928.For years the Oxford Music Hall was conducted on old-fashioned lines, without event, in the interests of the heirs of one Syers. After some vicissitudes it was disposed of to a limited liability company and linked up with the Pavilion and the Tivoli - the "Syndicate," as it was simply known, having for its dominant spirit Henry Newson Smith, a city accountant, who first saw the possibilities of the music hall from the point of view of high finance; and who let its strenuous life kill him just as he neared supremacy.

Right - A postcard showing the London Pavilion in 1928.

Where once the Tivoli stood, at the corner of Adam Street and the Strand, is now an impleasant pit, its future all un-certain. During its brief life of twenty-five years no star arose at the Tivoli, no name is inseparably associated with it as that of Sam Cowell was with the Canterbury, that of Leyboume with the Royal, Holborn, that of Macdermott with the London Pavilion. Truly enough, most of the popular favourites of its generation appeared there. But its programmes were shaped in accordance with routine rather than distinguished by sensational discoveries. The nearest approach to one was the exploitation of Lottie Collins in her dance, "Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay," which had already been done elsewhere and which had had an unspeakable origin in America. Its English edition was deftly and discreetly made by Mr Richard Morton.

What may be said of the Tivoli was that it developed from the model of the London Pavilion, a type then new to the West End, and it retained to the last, in entertainment and in entourage, a certain characteristic of the music hall as distinguished from the variety theatre.

It was another outgrowth of an inn. Many a still young Londoner can recall the four streets - John, Robert, James and William Streets - built by the brothers Adam, who gave their Christian names to their handiwork, and after whom this particular district was called the "Adelphi," from the Greek word signifying brothers. The site was occupied by Durham House, a palace built by Anthony de Beck, Bishop of Durham in Edward L's reign. Here Henry VIII gave a great tournament on his marriage with Anne of Cleves. And here, after centuries, young London learned to drink lager beer in the so-called Tivoli Bier Garten, a saloon adorned by vast and daring pictures. The cellars ran towards those mysterious "Dark Arches" beloved of sensational writers about London life in Mid-Victorian days.

Should the Tivoli disappear (with that inestimable benefit of a liquor licence, for which the London Hippodrome and the London Coliseum so desperately strive), it will leave the Strand without a music hall; though there were predecessors. The Tivoli stood within a stone's throw of the Coal Hole and the Cider Cellars, from which Thackeray drew his Cave of Harmony and Back Kitchen - not exactly, it should be noted. They combined to form an impression. Farther east was the Dr Johnson, another prehistoric music hall. And there was actually the Strand Musick Hall, where the "Great" Alfred Vance, and "Jolly John" Nash alternated with the masque of Comus! The Strand is often cited as the forerunner of the Gaiety Theatre. The truth is, the Strand Musick Hall occupied a site which formed little more than the entrance hall of the first Gaiety. Here, maybe, Vance sang:

Postcard for the Tivoli Theatre, Strand - Sent in 1908."Slap, bang, here we are again.
Here we are again; here we are again,
Slap bang, here we are again -
Such jolly dogs are we!"

The Tivoli Music Hall, with an associated restaurant, opened, just short of twenty-five years ago, with great eclat. Edward Terry was the chairman and added to words of condescension toward the new art a pious hope that there was money in it. There was not. The Tivoli came to grief.

Left - A Postcard showing the Tivoli Theatre, Strand - Sent in 1908.

It was seized upon and reconstructed by Newson Smith, and it became, in his hands - the quotation is apt in that it fitted him too - the "fair embodiment of fat dividends." Its social side was important. It was the rendezvous of managers and artists from the world over. Once, it became the rendezvous of a particularly smart kind of "sportsmen," but that is another story and comes into the history of the great Goudie bank frauds, not of this occasion. The veteran Charles Morton was the figure-head of the new Tivoli - his half-way house between the Alhambra and the Palace. And the late George Adney Payne, ensuing to Newson Smith, was its dominant influence - a big, cavalry kind of man, to whom the greatest artist was "my lad," and who was probably the last music hall magnate whom a hundred-guinea serio respectfully but affectionately addressed as "Guv'nor." With Payne's death the genius of showmanship departed from the Tivoli. Its difficulties and dissensions became acute. It fell, languid and grateful, into the arms of the Strand Improvement Schemers.

The above text on the London Pavilion is from 'Fifty years of a Londoner's life' by Henry George Hibbert 1916.

 

Information for this page on the London Pavilion was obtained from many different sources including the Theatres Trust, the ERA archives, the Entr'acte, Mander & Mitchenson's 'Theatres of London', Brent Fernandez, Emmi Birch., John Culme's Footlight Notes, 'Fifty years of a Londoner's life' by Henry George Hibbert 1916, 'The History of the London Pavilion' commissioned by Grosvenor Square Properties Group PLC 1988, the Arthur Lloyd archive, and London Pavilion programmes. London Pavilion Musical details were kindly sent in by David Cunard.

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