Monday, 29 May 2017

At the Woolwich Hippodrome sometime between 1907 and 1916

I missed the music halls by just a few decades.

They were a mix of popular songs, comedy, and speciality acts and lasted from the 1850s till I guess the 1960s, although I am sure in some small towns and sea side resorts the shows lingered on for a little while longer.

And continued also on the club circuit in the North so while the Hulme Hippodrome might have closed there was still the Princess Club in Chorlton, the Golden Garter in Wythenshawe and Sharston Labour Club to name but three.

But even these were not haunts of mine.  But for my father and grandparents they were regular places to go on a Saturday night.

I still treasure the smile on Nana’s face as she recounted seeing Max Millar sometime in the 1950s at the Derby Hippodrome and quietly confiding that “he was so dirty.”

But the Derby Hip’ closed in 1959 having reopened as a variety theatre after the last war. Before that it had fallen like so many into a cinema conversion as did the Woolwich Hippodrome which dominated Wellington Street between 1900 and 1923.

It was an impressive brick building dressed in stone and ran to three stories.   An iron canopy bearing the name of the theatre covered the steps leading up to the central entrance.

Another canopy continued along the sidewall with a sign across its face reading TWICE NIGHTLY AT 6.40 & 9.10. More signage appeared above the canopy reading WMF GRANT & CO. TWICE NIGHTLY also appears at the top of the side wall.

And in our picture the signs advertise Will Evans who according to some was one of our finest comedians and Pantomime stars and was the author of many sketches and songs.

Sadly there is little on him and nothing about his appearance at the Woolwich Hippodrome.

And as for the Woolwich Hippodrome, its life as a variety hall was just 23 years but as a cinema it fared even worse, closing in 1939 when it was demolished to make way for a new cinema which with the outbreak of war was not built until 1955.

Picture; the Woolwich Hippodrome, date unknown

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