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The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

The St. James's Hall, Regent Street and Piccadilly, London

Later - The Piccadilly Hotel / Le Méridien Piccadilly Hotel

A Sketch of the St. James's Hall, Piccadilly - From 'The Romance of London Theatres' by Ronald Mayes, reproduced in a programme for 'The Queen Bee' at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London on December the 1st 1930

Above - A Sketch of the St. James's Hall, Piccadilly - From 'The Romance of London Theatres' by Ronald Mayes, reproduced in a programme for 'The Queen Bee' at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London on December the 1st 1930

The St. James's Hall stood on the site now occupied by the Piccadilly Hotel. The Hall, built in 1857 and opened in 1858, was fashioned in the Moorish Alhambra style, from the designs of Mr. Owen-Jones. It had entrances in both Nash's Quadrant and in Piccadilly and consisted of one large and one small hall.

The principal hall was beautifully decorated and surrounded on three sides by a gallery, and was especially arranged for concerts to be given on a large scale. This was the sort of entertainment for which the hall was originally intended.

The project of the concerts was taken up by two music publishing firms Beale and Chappel, and Chappel and Company - who formed a company among their friends to run the place.

A notice in the ERA of the 21st of March 1858 announcing the Inauguration of the St. James's Hall.In the building of the Hall great difficulties and expenses were experienced, because in the course of erection, it was discovered that between Regent Street and Piccadilly there still existed the quicksands of the ancient boundary of Thorney Island, and this portion had to be saturated with concrete at great extra cost.

The first concert took place here on March 25th, 1858, and it was given in aid of the Middlesex Hospital, in the presence of the Prince Consort.

Right - A notice in the ERA of the 21st of March 1858 announcing the Inauguration of the St. James's Hall.

The entrance to the main hall was situated in Regent Street and that of the minor hall, in Piccadilly. The great hall was 139 feet in length and sixty feet in height and breadth, the total capacity being two thousand one hundred and twenty-seven. The minor hall under the platform measured sixty feet by fifty-seven and also had a gallery and orchestra and a smaller room attached.

The auditorium and stage of the St. James's Hall - From the 'Illustrated London News' April 10th, 1858

Above - The auditorium and stage of the St. James's Hall - From the 'Illustrated London News' April 10th, 1858

In 1860, a further outlay of £5,000 was made to allow for certain alterations and additions to the place, and in order to further enlarge the premises, three more houses in Piccadilly were purchased in 1876, so that the total cost of the erection of this hall exceeded £120,000. In later days a very fine marble staircase was added, leading direct from the Piccadilly entrance.

Among the principal concerts given here in the early days were those of the new Philharmonic Society and everyone will remember the celebrated series of Saturday and Monday popular concerts.

Public dinners were also held here, the first being that given to Sir F. P. Smith, on January 2nd, 1858, in recognition of his services to the steam fleet by the introduction of the screw propeller. Charles Dickens gave a second series of his "Readings" here in the Spring of 1861.

A Google Streetview image of the site of the former St. James's Hall today, now the Le Méridien Piccadilly Hotel - Click to Interact.The Moore and Burgess Minstrels proved a great attraction, and Mackney, the negro-impersonator, was often included in the programmes.

However, in spite of the many excellent performances which were given there, and its many days of prosperity, towards 1905, the hall could not be said to be particularly flourishing and it was demolished in that year. The St. James's Hall was famed for its wonderful acoustic properties and its great artistic assoiations. The last concert took place here on February 11th, 1905.

Right - A Google Streetview image of the site of the former St. James's Hall today, now the Le Méridien Piccadilly Hotel - Click to Interact.

The above article and its accompanying sketch of the front of the building is from 'The Romance of London Theatres' by Ronald Mayes, No.123, reproduced in a programme for 'The Queen Bee' at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, London on December the 1st 1930. 'Illustrated London News' image from my own collection.

An advertisement from the ERA of March 1885 for the 20th annual Benefit for G. W. Moore at the St. James's Grand Hall with a host of well known artistes appearing in the two performances, including Arthur Lloyd and James Fernandez.Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed at the St. James's Hall in 1869 and 1885.

Right - An advertisement from the ERA of March 1885 for the 20th annual Benefit for G. W. Moore at the St. James's Grand Hall with a host of well known artistes appearing in the two performances, including Arthur Lloyd and James Fernandez.

In an article in the Musical Times of 1869 entitled 'A Comic Concert', written by Henry C. Lunn, he writes, rather disparagingly, on the Music Hall artistes of the day, including seeing Arthur Lloyd perform 'Aldgate Pump' at the St. James's Hall, London:

Arthur Lloyd's 'Algate Pump'. Click to enlarge."The next singer, Mr. Arthur Lloyd, is somewhat superior to the rest, both in his method of delivering, the words of his songs, and his musical acquirements; and if he had been supplied with good material, no doubt he would have made the best of it. Unfortunately, however, the compositions he gave were quite on a level with the rest. We have no doubt that Mr. Lloyd will agree with us that there is nothing exquisitely comic in meeting a girl "near Aldgate pump;" but then he strictly believes, from a long course of music-hall training, that the oftener you repeat these words, the more the fun heightens." The Musical Times, 1869 - Read the full article here.

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

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