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The Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre, 18th November 1929

The Front Cover of the Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre on the 18th of November 1929 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

Above - The Front Cover of the Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre on the 18th of November 1929 - Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.


The Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre on the 18th of November 1929.The Streatham Hill Theatre is the outcome of many months of careful study. A battalion of men has been engaged upon its construction and equipment until the eve of opening. Factories all over England have been busy constructing steel girders, making bricks and cement, manufacturing stage and electrical equipment, specially designed fittings, upholstering seats, weaving carpets and fabrics.

The AuditoriumThe desire was for a theatre large enough to hold the many thousands who wish to see West End companies regularly throughout the year, and yet of a size that permitted that feeling of intimacy with the players, which only closeness to the stage can achieve. This effect has been obtained by the architects' planning and by the skill of the electricians. A further object was to provide a theatre not only of perfect acoustics and sighting, but of studied comfort for the public; the seats should prove comfortable, the lighting attractive, the colour scheme flattering, and the atmosphere restful.

In the following pages are given the personalities responsible for this theatre, some notes as to policy and a description of the engineering marvels that minister, silently and unseen, to one's comfort.


Mr. Joseph C. Clavering.MR. JOSEPH C. CLAVERING, the Chairman Of STREATHAM HILL PLAYHOUSE, LTD., has been intimately connected with the entertainment world for the past twenty years. MR. CLAVERING is Chairman of Piccadilly Theatre Co., Ltd., and also Chairman and Managing Director of the Hippodrome (Golders Green), Ltd. At the latter theatre he inaugurated the policy of presenting West End theatrical successes with the original companies and productions. This has proved so popular that West End companies now appear before crowded audiences at Golders Green every week throughout the year.

Mr. James W. Perry.The same policy of presenting plays with famous actors and actresses will be pursued at Streatham Hill. MR. CLAVERING is also a Director of Brixton Astoria, Ltd., and of the Syndicate at present constructing theatres in Greek Street, Soho; and Whitehall; also Picture Theatres in Streatham and Finsbury Park.


MR. JAMES W. PERRY, Resident Director and Licensee of STREATHAM HILL PLAYHOUSE, LTD. MR. PERRY is also a Director and the Licensee of Golders Green Hippodrome. MR. PERRY has been associated with MR. JOSEPH C. CLAVERING for twenty years and has ably supported MR. CLAVERING in his many theatrical and cinema enterprises.


MAJOR C. H. BELL, O.B.E., Consulting Engineer

Major C. H. Bell, O.B.E.Few people outside those actually connected with the stage have any idea of the human energy, plus mechanical equipment, required for the presentation of musical and stage plays in an up-to-date theatre, of the modern methods employed in stagecraft behind the Curtain to produce the effect required, or of the enormous effort necessary to ensure the comfort of the public in front.

THE STAGE of the STREATHAM HILL THEATRE, which is the all-important factor in the production of musical and dramatic plays, is of very large dimensions, and is designed to allow for easy change of scenery with the minimum of effort, so as to enable large changes to take place without noise and without delay in the performance. The very latest method of Stage Control Apparatus is installed, involving the use of about eight miles of steel wire rope, as against the old method of using ordinary hemp rope, which was subject to variation in length due to atmospheric conditions, and which at times produced weird effects by one line suddenly getting longer and another shorter. The special Counterweight Gear installed enables the heaviest scenery used to be pulled out of the way by one man at the controls. The Grid, above the stage, is 70 ft. from the stage floor, and this height allows scenery of any kind to be flown out of sight of the audience, without having to resort to any means of masking, as was required in the old theatres, when buildings did not allow of heights such as this.

The Entrance HallTo deal with the Stage Lighting, every type of Portable Stage Apparatus known at this date can be used without alteration of the Main Control. Every light on the stage can be operated simultaneously from the Stage switchboard situated on the stage level. The pressing of one small button is all that is necessary to reduce the stage to pitch darkness, if this effect is required, and the restoring of that button to its normal position is, again, all that is required to produce full lighting. By means of a system of specially controlled Dimmers almost any colour effect desired can be produced. Furthermore, the operation of the most complicated stage lighting effects can be carried out by one man. While one of the chief aims of stage lighting is to produce a brilliant daylight effect when the scene calls for this, it is, at the same time, equally essential to be able to produce a night effect so realistic and so natural that the audience feel as though they were actually viewing the scene in real life. The production of these effects, however, cannot be allowed to predominate over the importance of the correct value of light to present the artistes at their best, and in connection with this I would say that considerable experimental work has been carried out in order that modern make-up can be blended with light to present feminine artistes in their most charming guise...

How to get to the Streatham Hill Theatre

...THE DRESSING-ROOMS, which are known in the theatrical world as the Hotels of the stage artistes, are conveniently situated at the back of the stage. These rooms are of ample size and are fitted in the best possible manner for the comfort of the artiste, with self-contained suites for the leading players. It is not generally realised by the public that on a matinee day an artiste may spend many hours in a Dressing-Room, and for this reason this side of the theatre has been given considerable thought and attention...

The Foyer

...To pass to the other side of the Curtain, we come to the comfort of the patron, and in this respect we have two most important points to deal with. The first is the Heating and Ventilation of the Auditorium, as unless this is adequate in both respects the enjoyment of a play by the patron will be seriously jeopardised. In the STREATHAM HILL THEATRE no expense has been spared to provide everything possible for the physical comfort and mental satisfaction of the audience. The air is brought into the building by means of a special trunk placed on the top of the theatre roof. This prevents any polluted atmosphere from exhaust gas of motor cars, dust from streets, or anything of this nature from entering the auditorium. The air is drawn down to the Basement at the side of the theatre, where it enters into a specially designed chamber for the purpose of being washed. Every foot of air brought into the building is thoroughly saturated and washed to such an extent that it is impossible for any foreign matter whatever to reach the Auditorium. After passing through this cleansing process, it is tempered so that its entry to the theatre conforms with the requirements of the public. In the summer time the air is cooled, and in the winter time it is warmed. The chief factor in this system, however, is that the air in the Auditorium is entirely changed four times every hour, or at least ten times during a complete performance...

The Grand Saloon

...THE Boiler House outside the theatre is fitted with the latest type of oil-fed Boilers. This will eliminate smoke nuisance, and will ensure that the theatre does not, in this respect, give annoyance to its neighbours.

THE ENTRANCE VESTIBULES, CORRIDORS and FOYERS are also scientifically dealt with as regards Heating and Ventilation in order to produce the most comfortable conditions at all seasons of the year.

  • Contractors and Advertisements from the Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre
  • Contractors and Advertisements from the Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre
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To refer again to the Electrical Installation, arrangements have been made to bring the equipment at this theatre into conformity with the latest requirements of the Electricity Commission, and in connection with this the current is received from The County of London Electric Supply Company, Ltd., at a pressure of 6,600 volts, 3-phase, 50 cycles. By means of the introduction of special Transformers this supply is reduced to a pressure of 400/230 volts, 3-phase, 50 cycles, and is distributed at the 400 volts pressure for Power and the 230 volts pressure for Lighting. This distribution is so arranged that all cables supplying the Front of the House, Staircases and Exits are entirely separate in every way from the main Stage Lighting. There is also a separate lighting supply from Storage Accumulators.

IN THE AUDITORIUM every effort has been made to reduce the number of fittings in use, and these have been so arranged as not to affect the view of the stage. Handsome lustre fittings have been used for the lighting of the Vestibules and Foyers, and have been designed to conform with the general scheme of decoration.

THE South London public are fortunate in that the STREATHAM HILL THEATRE is the first theatre known to have three complete and distinct Orchestra Platforms. These Platforms are so arranged that any portion of the orchestra can be brought up to stage level, if so desired, for solo or other special effects, and, at the same time, the Musical Director can bring up the entire orchestra to stage level by the mere pressing of a single button.

CLEANLINESS is essential to comfort, and in accordance with modern practice a very efficient system of Vacuum Cleaning has been installed. A main central plant in the Basement removes all dirt and dust from carpets, curtains and draperies direct to a container on the plant, and thus avoids the distribution of dust and other foreign matter about the theatre.

ELECTRICAL PLANTS are introduced into all the Saloons for the provision of instantaneous boiling water for teas during matinees, and for the refrigeration of ice cream and soda-fountain specialities; and, in fact, the very latest electrical devices in all respects have been installed.

To summarise, I think I can say that the equipment of the STREATHAM HILL THEATRE comprises the most up-to-date and elaborate arrangements yet made for the proper presentation of musical and dramatic plays at any theatre at present in existence in London or the Provinces.

C H. Bell, Consulting Engineer.



Architects Sprague and Barton

MESSRS. SPRAGUE and BARTON are the architects that have been responsible for the designing of THE STREATHAM HILL THEATRE. MR. SPRAGUE has designed a large number of the West End Theatres, including The Globe, Queen's, Aldwych, Strand, Wyndham's, New Theatre, St. Martin's Lane, Ambassadors, St. Martin's Theatre, etc., in addition to some forty theatres in the suburbs, provinces, and in Paris. MR. BARTON has been associated with MR. SPRAGUE for many years.

The Executive Staff


Chairman of The Pitcher Construction Co., Ltd.

Mr. F. B. Pitcher.The constructional work of the STREATHAM HILL THEATRE has been carried out under the personal supervision of MR. F. B. PITCHER. The Pitcher Construction Company has recently completed the reconstruction of the Savoy Theatre in record time, and also carried out the construction of the New Locarno Dance Hall.

During the war, Messrs. Pitcher executed a large number of Government contracts in which speedy work was necessarily one of the most important factors. Among these may be mentioned the new town at Gretna Green, for the building of which the Company were one of the principal contractors; H.M. Stationery Office Store at Loman Street, and many Grain Stores, Ammunition Stores, Aeroplane Hangars and Housing Schemes in various parts of the country.

The Reservation of Seats

SEATS may be booked at no extra charge at the Theatre Box Office, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. In the event of application by letter, cheques in payment should be posted so as to arrive three clear days before the date of the performance. Cheques or Postal Orders should be made payable to the STREATHAM HILL PLAYHOUSE, LTD., and crossed. SEATS reserved by telephone must be claimed half-an-hour before the advertised time of performance. Tickets for Saturday night, however, must be taken up by 12 mid-day.

RETIRING rooms are available on every floor, including a ladies' boudoir. There is a public telephone for the use of patrons in the Stalls Lounge. Medical men who expect messages whilst at the Theatre, are invited to leave the number of their seat with the Attendant in charge. The Staff is trained to render cheerfully every possible service for the comfort and convenience of the patrons.

SPACIOUS and well - appointed Saloons and Lounges are provided for every section of the Auditorium. There are four Soda - fountains. Dainty afternoon Teas will be served at Matinee Performances. The supply of refreshments is under the direct control of the Management, and all articles sold are of the best quality at lowest prices. The Ices and Soda-fountain specialities are made exclusively of real cream ice.

The text and images on this page are from the Opening Night Programme for the Streatham Hill Theatre on the 18th of November 1929 and are Courtesy Ron Knee Archive.

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