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Full text of "The variety stage; a history of the music halls from the earliest period to the present time. By Charles Douglas Stuart and A.J. Park"

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Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2009 with funding from 

University of Toronto 



http://www.archive.org/details/varietystagehistOOstua 



THE VARIETY STAGE. 



FRANCIS, DAY & HUNTER, of 195 Oxford 
Street, London, are the Publishers of the 
Popular Songs sung nightly on the Variety Stage 
of this and other countries. 

The following are the raging favourities just now ; — • 

' Lousiana Lou,' 

' Arrah, go on ! ' 

' The Tin Gee-Gee,' . 

' She conies Home Tight on 

Saturday Night,' 
' Living Pictures,' 
♦ Pardners,' 

' The Boys of London Town,' 
' The Sweetest Flower Dies,' 
' Conundrums,' . 
' Come and Kiss Your Honey on\ 

the Lip,' . . . . / 
' India's Reply,' 
' The Hypochondriac,' 
' Salute My Bicycle,' . 
' If it wasn't for the 'Ouses in\ 

between,' 
' And her Golden Hair was) 

Hanging down her Back,' . ' 
' The Best Man,' 

' By the Sad Sea Waves,' . 

' Looking for a Coon like Me,' 
' Their Heads nestle closer To 

gether,' ... 
' Oft" She goes Again,' 
' Tableaux Vivants,' . 
' A Dream of Glory,' . 
' Do Buy Me that, Mama, Dear 
' I Can't Change It,' . 
' Down the Road,' 
' At Trinity Church I met My\ 

Doom,' . . . .} 

'' Our Happy Little Home,' 



The New Gaiety Success. 
Sung by Lily Marney. 

,, Fanny Wentwortu. 

,, Tom Costello. 

,, Fannie Leslie. 
,, Arthur Lennard. 
., Fannie Leslie. 
,, May Evans. 

T. E. Dunvu.le. 

Eugene Stratton. 

Leo Dryden. 
T. E. Dunville. 
Marie Lloyd. 

Gus Elen. 

The Gaiety Success. 

Sung by Walter Munroe. 

/Lester Barrett and 
I Vesta Tilley. 
,, Bessie Wentworth. 

,, Chas. Godfrey. 

,, Chas. Coborn. 

,, R. G. Knowles. 

,, Nellie Richards. 

,, Billie Barlow. 

,, Geo. Beauciiamp. 

,, Gus Elen. 

,, Tom Costello. 
,, Harry Randall, 



Professional Copies \s. dd. each. 

a 



COSTUMES AND WIGS. 

MO. GCRRRSen, 

Theatrical and Private Costumier and Wig Maker 

To all the principal Ladies and Gentlemen in the profession — 
Miss Cissie Loftus, Miss Marie Loftus, Miss Harriet Vernon, 
Vesta Tilley, Marie Lloyd, Florence Levy, Zjeo, Dan Leno, 
Little Tich, Herbert Campbell, Cazman, etc., etc. 



Costumes, Wigs, Armour, Scenery, Masks, Properties, Animal 
Skins, etc., etc., for Sale or Hire. 

AMATEUR PERFORMANCES ATTENDED 

WITH EVERY REQUISITE, 
CLARKSON'S LILLIE POWDER, is. 6d. per box. 



44 & 45 WELLINGTON STREET, STRAND, LONDON. 



r//E BUSY BEE. 



GEORGE FOSTER, 

DRAMATIC AND VARIETY AGENT, 
24 YORK ROAD, LAMBETH, LONDON, S.E. 

TELEGRAPHIC ADDRESS: 'CONFIRMATION, LONDON. 



Telegrams attended to at any Hour. 



*(rbe riDusic Iball an^ (Tbcatrc IRcvieW 

Offices— 158 STRAND, W.C. 
Published every Friday, - - Price ONE PENNY. 

The best Advertising Medium in the Profession. 

Circulates throughout the Provinces, the Continent, and the 

United States, U.S.A. 

Portraits every Week of Popular Artistes. 

Stock Exchange Quotations. 

Read by every Proprietor and Manager in the Amusement World. 



E. DE VERE, 

DRAMATIC, MUSICAL and VARIETY AGENCY. 
ALWAYS VACANCIES for FIRST- 
CLASS TALENT. 

Office Hours— lo till 6. 
Consultations in all Languages. 

HAS REMOVED TO ii YORK ROAD, S.E. 

Experientia Docet. 

TOM SHAW & CO., 

DRAMATIC AND VARIETY AGENTS, 
86 AND 87 STRAND, LONDON, W.C. 

THE RECOGNISED BUREAU FOR COSMOPOLITAN 
ARTISTES. 

TELEGRAPHIC ADDRESS: ' STAGERY, LONDON.' 
TELEPHONE : 387I. 

TELEPHONE NO. 4926. 

OLIVER AND HOLMES, 

MUSICAL AND VARIETY AGENTS, 

20 YORK ROAD, LONDON, S.E. 

Can be seen daily from ii to 4. 

TELEGRAPHIC ADDRESS : ' FIDGETY, LONDON.' 

YORK HOTEL, WATERLOO ROAD, 

21ie Recognised Professional Rendezvous 
of Great Britain. 

Wines, Spirits and Cigars of the 
Finest Quality. 



Ordinary Daily. Hotel Tariff on Application. 

Proprietors — Deakin & Co. 



RICHARD WARNER & CO., 

- LEADING VARIETY AGENTS OF THE WORLD, 

20 WELLINGTON STREET, 
STRAND, W.C. 



General Manager — 

MAURICE DE FRECE. 

Provincial and Tow7i Representative — 

ISAAC JOHN SOMERS. 

Secretary — 

V. H. LANYI. 

Solicitors — 

THOS. BEARD & SONS. 













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THE VARIETY STAGE 

A HISTORY OF THE MUSIC HALLS FROM THE 
EARLIEST PERIOD TO THE PRESENT TIME 



BV 

CHARLES DOUGLAS STUART 

AND 

A. J. PARK 



X n C> 11 

T. FISHER U N VV I N 
Paternoster Square 



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PREFACE 

To the general reader, as well as to the 
thoughtful observer of the social institutions 
of the English people, the story of the rise, 
progress and present condition of Variety 
Stage in this country presents features of 
peculiar attraction. 

As a factor in the domestic life of the 
masses, its influence can hardly be over- 
estimated ; while the hold which it retains 
to-day on the suffrage of the people is as 
remarkable as it is conspicuous. Indeed, 
few other forms of public entertainment 
command so large a share of popular sup- 
port as that presented by the modern Music 
Hall, which constitutes in itself the most 
formidable rival in the patronage of the 
populace which the legitimate stage has 
ever possessed. Within recent years its 



viii PREFACE 

prominence has become still more evident. 
All that wealth, art and taste could yield 
have been enlisted in its service. Capital, 
representing an aggregate of many hundreds 
of thousands, has been invested in its ventures 
and recouped by phenomenal returns : verit- 
able Temples of Variety, designed by the 
leading architects of the day, and upholstered, 
appointed and embellished in a style rival- 
ling in magnificence, luxury and display the 
palace of an eastern potentate, have sprung 
up in all the principal cities of the Kingdom; 
and entrepreneurs of European celebrity have 
ransacked the globe in their insatiable thirst 
for novelties of every description. 

In placing before the reader, therefore, the 
present history, the authors feel that the 
undertaking calls for no apology on their 
part ; but while they are confident that the 
hour has arrived for such a work, they feel 
some diffidence in putting themselves for- 
ward as the men which the occasion calls 
forth. They are not, however, altogether un- 
equipped for the task which, in the absence 
of any attempt by abler or more qualified 
writers, they have themselves taken in hand. 

Their long connection with music - hall 



PREFACE ix 

journalism has made them familiar with all 
phases of the variety world, while the prompt 
assistance which has been rendered to them 
by managers and artistes alike, and the 
facilities placed at their disposal by the pro- 
fession generally, have enabled them to 
attempt the work with every confidence in 
its successful accomplishment. 

In The History of the Variety Stage they 
have endeavoured to deal in a bright, chatty 
and anecdotal manner, not only with the 
Music Halls of the past and present, but also 
with the picturesque and variegated profes- 
sion which has called them into existence, 
and while presenting to the statistician, the 
antiquarian, and the student of domestic his- 
tory, a substantial and painstaking work of 
research, they have tried to render at the 
same time a graphic panorama of the variety 
world as it was and as it is to-day. 

In the following pages, old-time favourites 
reappear and win their successes anew ; the 
songs that tickled the ears of our grandfathers 
are heard again, and the rap of the chair- 
man's hammer rings through its pages. 

The veil of the Music Hall Bohemia has 
been discreetly lifted, and the reader escorted 



X PREFACE 

behind the scenes, and through the mazes of 
this attractive region. 

In conclusion, The History of the Variety 
Stage, wliich the authors now present to the 
pubHc, will, it is hoped, be found as attractive 
to the ordinary and desultory reader as, they 
trust, it may prove valuable and interesting 
to the more serious student of contemporary 
history. 

CHARLES DOUGLAS STUART. 
A. J. PARK. 



London, May il 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I. 

I'AGK 

INTRODUCTORY ... . . I 

CHAPTER n. 

THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOMS, . . . . I3 

CHAPTER HI. 

THE VARIETY SALOON AND CONCERT-ROOM, . 34 

CHAPTER IV. 

THE MUSIC HALL, ...... 46 

CHAPTER V. 

PROGRESS OF THE HALLS, . . . . .63 

CHAPTER VI. 

PROGRESS Of IHE .MUSIC HALL — conihiued, . . .78 

CHAPTER VH. 

OLD TIME FAVOURITES, ..... 93 

CHAPTER VHI. 

THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES, . . . . I I4 

CHAPTER I.X. 

THE MUSIC-HALL PRESS, ..... I43 



xii CONTENTS 

CHAPTER X. 

PAGE 
THE GROWTH OF THE VARIETY PROFESSION, . . I55 

CHAPTER XI. 

MUSIC HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS, . . . 167 

CHAPTER XH. 

CHAIRMEN, PAST AND PRESENT, .... 182 

CHAPTER XHI. 

THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE, .... I90 

CHAPTER XIV. 

LEGISLATURE AND THE HALLS, .... 202 

CHAPTER XV. 

POPULAR ARTISTES OF TO-DAY, . . . 215 

CHAPTER XVI. 

THE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE, .... 223 

CHAPTER XVII. 

CONCLUSION, ....... 238 



THE VARIETY STAGE 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTORY 

Origin of the Variety Stage — London in the Thirties — Sketch 
of the Period — Topographical, Political and Social Aspects 
— Popular Amusements of the Time — Theatres and Opera 
Houses — Pleasure Gardens — Vauxhall — Cremorne — The 
White Conduit House — Bagnigge Wells — Highbury Bam — 
The Judge-and-Jury Societies — Baron Nicholson — The 
Protean Witness — Brooks— Miscellaneous Entertainments 
— A Curious Advertisement. 

The English variety stage dates in an historical 
sense from a comparatively modern era. There 
are probably many persons still living who were, 
in a manner of speaking, 'in at the birth.' Never- 
theless, the story of the rise and growth of the 
modern music hall carries us across the gulf of 
some sixty intervening years away back to the 
early thirties of the present century. It is an 
interesting and picturesque period, a cursory 

A 



2 THE VARIETY STAGE 

sketch of which, before proceeding further, may 
perhaps enable the reader better to appreciate the 
conditions in which the subject of this history was 
ushered into existence, and the environments 
which imparted to it in its earliest infancy some- 
thing of the character and colour which in an 
improved and modified degree it retains to the 
present day. 

In its topographical, as well as in its political and 
social aspects, the London of that time presents a 
curious contrast to the Metropolis in Anno Domini 
1895. The sweeping improvements in streets and 
squares, in public and in private buildings, which are 
making London, as we know it, one of the finest 
cities in the world, were then uncontemplated. 
The betterment question had not been mooted, 
and ill-paved, ill-drained and ill-lighted, the town 
lay within a comparatively narrow compass. The 
dense suburbs, which now stretch out on every side 
in dreary miles of brick and mortar, were still un- 
dreamt of The jerry builder had not yet made 
his advent, and smiling landscapes girdled the 
metropolis within a mile of Charing Cross. 

It was a period of political fermentation and 
social upheaval. The patriotic fervour which had 
moved the heart of England during the two pre- 
ceding decades had simmered down, but the 
country was still in the throes of the first reform 
legislation which shared the public attention with 
such burning questions as Catholic Emancipation, 



INTRO D UC TOR Y 3 

Chartism and Apti-Slavery. 1 he Penny Post was 
yet a vision of its projector, Mr Rowland Hill, 
and the franking of letters was a matter of daily 
practice. The snort of the locomotive had only 
just begun to make itself heard, and lumbering 
hackney coaches and clumsy cabriolets were the 
only available conveyances in the metropolis. 
Rushlights and tallow candles, the latter with their 
indispensable concomitants, the snuffers and tray, 
were the sole domestic illuminants. The lucifer 
match had not yet come into use, and pending 
its arrival, the tinder-box, with its flint and steel, 
continued to exercise the patience of the British 
housewife. In dress, the variegated silks and 
satins which had characterised the Georgian 
regimes had given way to an attire, which, if 
somewhat more sober, still left plenty of room 
for extravagant display. In ordinary life, the 
usual male attire consisted of a coat, generally 
of a blue, or bottle-green hue, cut away sharp 
above the waist, with claw-hammer tails, and 
gleaming metal buttons. Flowered vests, of an 
open pattern, and set off with lavishly-frilled 
fronts and high stocks were the vogue, while 
the nether ' continuations ' were close-fitting, and 
terminated above the ankles. The two great 
generals of the time, Wellington and Bliicher, 
had set the fashion in the special style of boots 
named after them, while curly-brimmed, beaver 
top-hats, which either narrowed or widened to- 



4 THE VARIETY STAGE 

wards the crown, were the customary form of 
headgear. The artificial wig, with its knotted 
queue had gone out of date for general wear, but 
still continued a prominent feature in the pro- 
fessional attire of members of the bar. The 
greatcoat of many capes was also a familiar 
article in the male garb of those days. The 
feminine costume was about equally original in 
conception and design. Nevertheless the ladies 
contrived to look bewitching in Paisley shawls 
of brilliant tints, silken or muslin gowns of many 
flounces, rather low at the neck and very much 
puffed at the sleeves, while their charms were 
further handicapped with preposterous poke bon- 
nets, adorned with coloured ribbons and set off 
at the sides with the owner's dangling ringlets. 
Socially, the period was one of deep drinking 
among all classes, temperance reform being as 
yet a dream of the future. Gambling in all 
its hideous forms was rampant everywhere, and 
the region of the Haymarket, St James's and 
Leicester Square was literally honeycombed with 
hells of the vilest description. The ring was in 
its palmy days, and the ' noble ' art was practised 
as well as patronised by the gentry at large. 
At night the thoroughfares were infested by 
rogues and vagabonds of every description, in- 
cluding ' mad ' marquises and harum-scarum 
swells, who carried on the traditions of the 
notorious Mohocks of a preceding era despite 



INTRODUCTORY 5 

the efforts of the newly-formed police, who had 
just succeeded the old ' charleys,' and made a 
resplendent display in their shiny top-hats, white 
ducks and swallow - tail coats. There was a 
general laxity of morals, and a coarseness of 
tone pervading every grade of society, which 
found ready reflection and expression in the 
many vile and scurrilous prints with which the 
period abounded. 

The popular amusements of the time were fairly 
numerous and varied. The theatres and opera 
houses were well represented and patronised, and 
could boast of not a few illustrious names which 
were to become emblazoned on the scroll of 
histrionic fame. At the Haymarket, Webster and 
Buckstone were the leading lights ; Italian Opera 
reigned at Her Majesty's Theatre ; at Covent 
Garden, not then utilised for the purposes of opera, 
Macready maintained the ascendency of the legiti- 
mate, and at the 'old' Drury Mr Bunn held the 
reins of government. At the Adelphi, then under 
the management of Mr Frederick Yates, Reeves, 
Paul Bedford and Ned Wright were shining lights, 
while the Lyceum (formerly the Lyceum Opera 
House), Sadlers' Wells, with Phelps ; the Princess's 
and the Olympic, with Madame Vestris and 
Robson, had many patrons. Across the water, the 
Surrey, under Davidge, and Astley's, with that 
famous ringmaster, Ducrow, were the main attrac- 
tions ; and in addition there were several other 



6 THE VARIETY STAGE 

' minor theatres,' as all except the two or three 
patent houses were then termed. 

Among the pleasure gardens which in various 
parts of the metropolis were then in great favour 
and resorted to nightly by all classes, Vauxhall 
held undoubted sway. The admission was two- 
and-sixpence, but the journey from over the water 
was both tedious and expensive, for, in addition 
to the fare, then a pretty heavy one, there was the 
bridge toll to be considered, to say nothing of the 
turnpike fee. The attractions, however, were 
doubtless unique, and although the refreshments 
were exorbitantly high, the shady groves, rustic 
arbours, coloured lamps, dancing and pyrotechnic 
display were well worth the expenditure, Simpson 
was the Master of Ceremonies when the gardens 
were in the height of their popularity, and was a 
great favourite with its patrons. In its later days, 
Vauxhall had to succumb to its cheaper if ^ess 
historic rival, Cremorne, which continued to 
attract the public until 1877, in the October of 
which year its licence lapsed, and the beautiful 
grounds were handed over to the all-devouring 
suburban builder. 

Tea gardens, which in the latter part of the 
preceding century were in such favour, continued 
to be patronised by lovers of these leafy retreats, 
and a considerable number were in existence in 
the ' thirties.' Among the principal were the Old 
Milestone, in the neighbourhood of what is now 



INTRODUCTORY 7 

Goswell Street ; Whales', in Bayswater ; the White 
Conduit House, on the east side of Penton Street, 
Clerkenwell ; Bagnigge Wells and Highbury 
Barn, although the latter would perhaps be more 
fittingly described as an ale-and-cake house. 
Besides their arborial attractions, these establish- 
ments were famous for the creature comforts 
which they supplied in the form of hot rolls, 
sweet butter, fresh tea and appetising cress. In 
addition, there were the dancing-saloons, and the 
indispensable concert-room, where the leading 
artistes of the time were constantly to be seen. 
It was at Whales' Tea Gardens that Richard 
Fiexmore, the famous clown, made his first 
appearance on any stage, the occasion being the 
benefit of Mr J. A. Cave, the well-known theatri- 
cal manager, then a juvenile entertainer and rising 
variety artiste. 

The White Conduit House took its name 
from an ancient conduit which formerly existed 
in an adjacent field. It was at one time a very 
popular establishment, much patronised by Cockney 
ramblers, from whom no doubt it earned its familiar 
appellation of the ' Vite Condick.' It was here that 
Mr ChariCS Sloman, the clever improvisatore, of 
whom mere will be heard hereafter, made his first 
bow to the public. Among other public enter- 
tainers who appeared at this establishment were 
Mrs Bland, a celebrated ballad vocalist of the 
time ; Chabert, the Fire King, and Graham, the 



8 THE VARIETY STAGE 

aeronaut. Mr John Dunn, the ' English Jim 
Crow,' as he was styled from his clever imitations 
of Mr T. D. Rice, conducted the amusements in 

1840, a few years after which the grounds were 
disposed of for building purposes. 

Bagnigge Wells, which was pulled down in 

1 841, occupied a charming site at the foot of what 
is now the Pentonville Road, and it was at the 
concert-room of this popular resort that Mr John 
Braham, the celebrated tenor, made his public 
debut at the early age of fourteen. Highbury 
Barn long survived its rivals, and, after many 
fluctuations of fortune, passed, in 1861, inio the 
hands of its last proprietor, Mr Edward Giovan- 
nelli, under whose successful proprietorship it 
continued to prosper until, like its predecessors, it 
had to give way before the counter attractions of 
more popular establishments. 

Among the miscellaneous attractions of those 
days, the Judge-and-Jury shows, as they were 
called, held a conspicuous position, and after the 
theatres and other places of amusement were 
closed attracted audiences of a class composed 
chiefly of men-about-town, revellers, nightbirds, 
and frolicsome roysterers of the Tom-and-Jerry 
stamp. The entertainment consisted of thinly- 
veiled skits in the form of mock trials on the 
society scandals of the day, and were conducted 
with a sham solemnity and a grotesque parody on 
legal procedure which were certainly diverting. 



INTRODUCTORY 9 

Humour of the broadest type was the prevailing 
characteristic of these shows spicened only too 
frequently by the ribaldest of wit and the rankest 
of obscenity, such as at the present day would not 
be tolerated for a single instant. The father of 
this class of entertainment was a versatile humorist 
of the name of Nicholson — 'Baron' Nicholson he 
dubbed himself — whose establishment was located 
at the Garrick's Head, Bow Street, Covent 
Garden. In the window of this popular hostelry 
was displayed a brief of Brobdignagian propor- 
tions bearing in bold characters the title of the 
suit. The room where the causes celebrcs were 
conducted seated about three hundred people, and 
was fitted up with the customary appointments of 
a regular court, viz., the bench for his lordship, 
and seats for the counsel on either side, the jury 
and the witnesses. The counsel, who were fully 
fledged in wig and gown, consisted of three 
remarkable characters, whose professional cogno- 
mens were Mr Bosanquet Thesiger, Sir Barnacle 
Follett, and another whose personal appearance 
and admirable make-up and mimicry had earned 
for him the sobriquet of Lord Brougham's double. 
The other functionaries of the court were the 
usher and a ' protean ' witness named Brooks. 
The Baron himself, a corpulent, jovial-looking 
personage, took his seat upon the bench promptly 
upon the assembling of the parties, and opened the 
proceedings by calling for a glass of brandy and 



lo THE VARIETY STAGE 

water with a cigar, which was the signal for counsel 
for the plaintiff to begin. The following, which 
is one of the ' Baron's ' advertisements, conveys 
a pretty good notion of the general nature of these 
entertainments, and of the proceedings at similar 
establishments, 

'Garrick's Head and Town Hotel, Bow 
Street, Covent Garden. Gentlemen visiting 
London will do themselves a moral wrong, and will 
merit the censure of their friends at home, if they 
go back to the provinces without being able to 
say to their inquiring connections that they have 
witnessed the extraordinary entertainments pro- 
vided for the interaction of the convivial in the 
magnificent saloon of the above-named hotel. 
Monday night the Judge-and-Jury Society will 
hear a cause redolent of larkery after darkery, 
being the Queen on the prosecution of Scard 
against Pakenos. Tuesday and Wednesday the 
concert. Thursday the Judge-and-Jury Society 
will sit again to decide a most important case 
of breach of promise of marriage, " Hitchon v. 
Rogers." Friday the concert, Saturday (Oh ! such 
a night!) the Judge-and-Jury Society will wind 
up the week with a serious, momentous and 
stroddling case of crini. con., being the affair lately 
so much whispered about of the Hon. Viscount 
Limpus V. The Hon. Powderham Pelter Planta- 
ganet Priapus Pulverton. In this cause it is 
anticipated that several men of fashion and 



INTRODUCTORY ii 

ladies in their own right will be examined. Mr 
Bosanquet Thesiger, Mr Mansfield and Thurlo 
Pipps are retained for the Plaintiff, and the double 
of Lord Brougham and Mr Coke Tenterden 
Phunk will appear for the Defendant. Mastication 
and Apollo every night after the theatres. Repose 
and matin feed half-a-crown,' etc. 

After quitting the Garrick Head, Nicholson 
took an establishment opposite, subsequently 
migrating to the Coal Hole in the Strand, and 
finally to the Cyder Cellars in Maiden Lane. He 
was for some time editor of a racy little journal 
called Nicholson's Nodes, and just prior to his 
death published an interesting autobiography. 
The success of the original Judge-and-Jury 
Society brought a host of competitors into the 
field, but none of them achieved the success of 
the Baron's. On the latter's demise in 1862 
the protean witness Brooks started another with 
the original corps which had its court in the 
Strand, and later on in Leicester Square, while 
opposition shows on similar lines were held in 
other parts of the town. Improvement in public 
tastes, however, and severer police restrictions, 
gradually rendered them unpopular, and with 
the decadence of public support they died a 
natural death. 

Of the public amusements of the time, however, 
the most popular, as well as the most widespread, 
was undoubtedly that afforded by the various 



12 THE VARIETY STAGE 

song and supper-rooms, and concert and variety 
saloons, which flourished in various parts of the 
Metropolis and were extensively patronised alike 
by high and low. As in these institutions traces 
of the elements which were subsequently to de- 
velop into the modern music hall become for 
the first time discernible, their consideration is 
deferred for a separate chapter. 



CHAPTER II 

THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOMS 

The Song and Supper-Rooms — Evans's — Its Earlier History 
— ' Paddy ' Green — Skinner, the Waiter — His System of 
Calculation — P'avourites at Evans's — Jack Sharp — His 
Songs and Salary — Earnings of Artistes then — Sharp's 
Sad End — Sloman, the Impro\asatore — 'The Maid of 
Judah ' — Amusing Anecdote — Sam Cowell — One-Eyed 
Martin — Herr Joel — His Mythical Benefit — F. Jongh- 
mann — The Coal Hole — John Rhodes — An Ideal Chair- 
man — Sloman — Joe Wells — J. A. Cave — Ben Mills and His 
Rheumatism — Billposting under Difficulties — Thackeray 
and the Coal Hole — The Cyder Cellars — Original of the 
' Back Kitchen '—John Moody — Tom Penniket — Labern 
— G. W. Ross — His Song 'Sam Hall '■ — Wm. Rhodes — Tom 
Hudson and His Ditties — 'Jack Robinson' — The Doctor 
Johnson — Poynter, the Oyster Man — Bob Glindon — James 
Bruton — Perrin — French and His Costume Recitals- 
Harry Fox — Jenny Hill — Chairman Caulfield — The Albert 
Club. 

Between fifty and sixty years ago, the Song 
and Supper-Rooms, as they were termed, were 
amongst the most prominent institutions of 
London life. They existed in all parts of the 
town, but their chief stronghold was the West 
End, between St James's and Temple Bar, where 
they abounded. As their name implies, their pre- 
dominant feature was the vocal and instrumental 
music which they offered to their patrons, in ad- 

13 



14 THE VARIETY STAGE 

dition to the usual gastronomic attractions of the 
ordinan' eating-houses. Hot suppers, admirably 
cooked and sen-ed up, might be obtained here at 
any time of the evening up till one or two a.m. ; 
and here belated Londoners might regale them- 
selves with foaming tankards of stout or steaming 
glasses of grog, and enjoy a good cigar, to the 
■warbling strains of the comic or sentimental 
vocalists who were attached to the establishment 
The host himself usually took the chair, and con- 
tributed to the harmony of the evening. Origin- 
ally, the vocal part of the entertainment was of an 
entirely amateur character, the chairman calling 
upon the regular frequenters to contribute a song. 
Some of these habitues exhibited so much talent 
in the latter respect, that their ser\-ices became in 
constant demand, and were specially retained, the 
vocalism thus gradually coming to partake of an 
exclusively professional nature. Among the oldest 
of these institutions were the C}-der Cellars in 
Maiden Lane, the Coal Hole in the Strand, 
Offley's in Henrietta Street, the Dr Johnson in 
Bolt Court, and Evans's, afterwards Paddy 
Green's, in Covent Garden. Of these, Evans's 
undoubtedly took the lead. It was situated at 
the north-western comer of the Piazzas, in the 
basement of a fine old mansion house, rich in 
historic associations. The premises were built in 
the reign of Charles H., and formed for a period 
the residence of Sir Kenelm Digb}', the mansion 



rriF. SONG AND SUrrF.RROOM 15 

being subsequently altered for the Earl of Orford, 
who, as Admiral Russell, in 1692, defeated Admiral 
Tourville near La Hague. Later on, there lived 
here Lord Archer, who espoused the daughter of 
Mr VV^est, the then President of the Royal Society, 
a famous virtuoso, whose splendid library and 
collection of prints, bronzes and objets de virtu 
occupied Mr Paterson, the well-known auctioneer, 
over two months to dispose of. In 1773, the 
place was opened by a Mr David Lowe as a 
family hotel, and enjoyed the reputation of being 
the first establishment of that kind started in the 
Metropolis. In 1790, a Mrs Hodson succeeded 
as proprietress, and won distinction for herself by 
issuing a curious advertisement, which announced, 
' Stabling for a hundred noblemen and horses.' 
Mr Richard.son was the next owner, and was 
followed by Mr Joy, who gave his name to the 
establishment, which was henceforth known as 
Joy's Hotel. Under this gentleman's manage- 
ment, the place was much patronised by the 
nobility, who made it a sort of aristocratic ren- 
dezvous, West End club houses not being then in 
existence. The large dining-room became, on 
this account, known as the ' Star,' as many as 
nine members of the peerage having been known 
to dine together here on the same occasion. Sub- 
sequently the upper portion of the premises was 
let in suites of chambers, and the basement was 
taken over by Mr W. C. Evans, a chorister ot 



i6 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Covent Garden Theatre, who converted the great 
dining-saloon into a song and supper-room. It 
was usually opened close upon midnight, and the 
entertainment consisted of songs of the erotic and 
bacchanalian order. One or two of the singers 
were attached to the establishment, but a large 
portion of the entertainment was originally sup- 
plied voluntarily by its patrons. Mr Evans re- 
tired in 1844 iJ^ favour of Mr John Greenmore, 
familiarly known as Paddy Green, who had been 
one of the regular vocalists, and, like his prede- 
cessor, originally connected with the chorus either 
of the Adelphi or Covent Garden Theatre. Under 
Mr Green's management, the place was entirely 
reconstructed, and the nature of the entertainment 
altogether improved. The new hall, to which the 
old supper - room, now converted into a cafe, 
formed a sort of vestibule, was on a level with 
the cellar in front, and extended into the rear of 
the house, occupying a portion of ground which 
formerly constituted the garden of Sir Kenelm 
Digby. At one period, this same garden con- 
tained a cottage in which the Kemble family oc- 
casionally resided, and where the illustrious Fanny 
is reputed to have been born. The new hall, 
which was erected from designs by Mr Finch 
Hill, was about seventy-two feet long from end 
to end, and, with the old room, through which 
it was approached, the entire length was about 
113 feet. The carved ceiling, richly painted in 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROO.U 17 

panels, was supported on either side by a row 
of substantial columns with ornamental capitals, 
from which sprang bold and massive arches. 
These columns helped also to support a screened 
gallery, which extended along the two sides and 
one end of the hall. The decorations cost some- 
thing like ;^50oo, and were extremely fine, A 
striking feature of the new hall was its admir- 
able gallery of theatrical celebrities, and it was 
also remarkable for the introduction of a regular 
platform for the performers, this very desirable 
adjunct having, up to that time, been dispensed 
with. Ladies, it should be mentioned, were not 
admitted to the hall, except on giving their names 
and addresses, and were then only permitted to 
enjoy the proceedings from behind the rails of 
the balcony before mentioned. The whole of the 
performances were sustained by the male sex and 
an efficient choir of men and boys, who contri- 
buted glees, ballads, madrigals and selections from 
the operas, the musical accompaniment being sup- 
plied with the aid of a piano and harmonium. 
The performances commenced at eight, but it 
was not until much later that the room began to 
fill. By twelve o'clock, however, the place was 
crowded, and at the various tables, discussing 
their chops and stout, might be seen many of the 
leading lights in the literary, artistic, legal, and 
theatrical and social circles of the day, while 
'Paddy' Green, a benevolent -looking old gentle- 

B 



1 8 THE VARIETY STAGE 

man with a rubicund visage, strutted about with 
his inevitable snuff-box, chatting and conversing 
with his numerous acquaintances, with whom he 
was a rare and deservedly popular favourite. A 
familiar personage at Evans's was the waiter, an 
old chap named Skinner, who stood at the door 
as visitors passed out, and totalled up the amount 
of the reckoning. Skinner had a system of cal- 
culation which was astonishing in its rapidity and 
colossal inaccuracy — the latter, it is needless to 
add, being invariably in favour of the waiter. 
The crush at the exit, and the bewildering in- 
tricacy of Skinner's mental arithmetic, of course, 
rendered disputation next to impossible. Among 
the artistes who favoured Evans's rooms in those 
days may be mentioned S. A. Jones, a very fine 
bass, well known in connection with the operas at 
Drury Lane, and Mr John Binge, an excellent 
tenor, who might also be heard at the old 
Adelaide Gallery and Vauxhall. The comic 
element was supplied by J. W. Sharp, 'Jack' 
Sharp, as he was familiarly termed by his many 
friends and admirers, who used originally to sing 
at such establishments as the old Mogul concert- 
room in Drury Lane ; the Salmon and Ball, 
Bethnal Green ; the Grapes, in Compton Street, 
Soho, and similar establishments ; but his re- 
markable talents brought him rapidly to the 
front. At Evans's his salary was only ^i a 
week, the usual earnings of artistes of the song 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOM 19 

and supper period, although, in addition, a singer 
was entitled to a nightly supper and a limited 
number of drinks * free gratis and for nothing.' 
Sharp could have earned ;^90 a week easily in 
these times ; but he must have made even in 
those days at least ;^20 by the sale of MS. copies 
of his songs to the noble patrons of that establish- 
ment. Most of these ditties were from the pen 
of Mr John Labern, and were compositions of 
genuine wit and humour. They were mostly of 
a topical or political vein, such as ' Who'll buy 
my Images,' 'Pity the Downfall of poor Punch 
and Judy,' and the like. Sharp was a comic 
vocalist whose only equal in the present day is 
probably Mr Arthur Roberts. In his time, he 
was the rage of the town, and in constant de- 
mand at Vauxhall, Cremorne, and the various 
public dinners. Unfortunately, the poor fellow 
wandered into evil ways, lost his engagements, 
and in 1856, at the early age of thirty-eight, ex- 
pired in the Dover Workhouse. Among other 
popular favourites of the time, whose names are 
more or less closely associated with Evans's, was 
Sloman, who styled himself ' the only English 
improvisatore,' and who had a really wonderful 
knack of tagging rhymes upon any subject 
selected or suggested by the audience. He was 
the author, among other pieces, of ' The Maid of 
Judah,' a composition of which he was extremely 
proud, and which he persisted in singing upon 



20 THE VARIETY STAGE 

almost every occasion, although his voice was 
peculiarly raucus and strident. One of the lines 
of the song runs something like ' No more shall 
the children of Judah sing,' and Sloman had 
reached this point on one occasion, his voice 
being at the time perhaps a little hoarser than 
usual, when a long-suffering member of the audi- 
ence exclaimed, ' Well, if they can't sing better 
than that, it's a precious good job ! ' a remark 
which was received by the audience with uproari- 
ous laughter, in which, it is needless to add, the 
singer did not join. Sam Cowell was another 
talented singer who nightly attracted crowds to 
hear him. He was, indeed, one of the cleverest 
character vocalists who has ever delighted an 
English audience, and, previous to confining him- 
self to purely vocal efforts, had achieved no small 
success on the boards of the legitimate stage. 
Another familiar character at Evans's was Herr 
von Joel, a peculiar old German, who sang jodling 
ditties, and gave imitations on his walking-stick 
of various musical instruments and the denizens 
of the farmyard. He came to Evans's from Vaux- 
hall, and remained at the former establishment 
until his death. In his later days he used to 
retail cigars among the audience, and augmented 
his salary by disposing of tickets for his 'bene- 
fits ' which were continually being postponed, and 
were ultimately relegated to the Greek Kalends. 
These forthcoming benefits were the subject of 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOM 21 

much merriment among the patrons of Evans's, 
with whom old Joel was a popular favourite. 
Tom Martin, who was dubbed ' one-eyed Martin,' 
from the loss of one of his optics, was a some- 
what similar character. He had a song, ' Billy's 
Birthday,' which he rendered in a peculiarly droll 
style. The subsequent history of this famous 
establishment may be very briefly related. After 
it passed out of the hands of Mr Green, it fell 
into the possession of Mr Barnes, who, in accord- 
ance with the spirit of the times and the improved 
tone of the performance, felt justified in admitting 
ladies to the ground floor of the auditorium. Sub- 
sequently, however, it lost its licence, and was 
converted into a club, known as the Falstaff, 
which failed after a brief existence, after which 
it reopened as the New Club, which had a simi- 
larly curtailed career. It at present forms the 
habitat of the National Sporting Club. 

The Coal Hole was situated in Fountain 
Court, Strand, on the site of which famous old 
tavern now stands the elegant theatre, which has 
been named after its clever lessee, Mr Edward 
Terry. How the first-mentioned establishment 
earned its peculiar title is now lost in the mist 
of obscurity, but it is surmised that it arose from 
the contiguity of the coal wharves, which at one 
time existed in its vicinity. The patrons of this 
celebrated old hostelry comprised, at one time, 
the leading celebrities of the day, and enjo}'ed 



22 THE VARIETY STAGE 

a repute more cosmopolitan than local. It was, 
indeed, no vain boast of its worthy host, Mr 
John Rhodes, that upon the tables of the Coal 
Hole might be seen, on occasion, more silver 
plate in the shape of goblets, flagons, tankards 
and loving cups than could be found in any 
big hotel in the Metropolis. Mr John Rhodes, 
the earliest proprietor, was himself a remarkable 
character. He had been originally a vocalist at 
the Drury Lane Theatre, but being withal a man 
of business aptitude, noted the facilities for mone}- 
making presented by the Coal Hole, which he 
took the earliest opportunity of purchasing, and 
at once began to run the establishment on lines 
similar to those which had been pursued with 
so much success, artistic and financial, at Evans's. 
The result amply justified his anticipations, and 
his enterprise was more than liberally rewarded. 
When his son, Mr John Rhodes, Junior, took 
over the tavern the same policy was pursued, 
and the house speedily became the nightly resort 
of the bon ton of the town. The entertainment, 
which commenced about seven or eight in the 
evening, and rarely terminated until two o'clock 
the next morning, comprised sentimental and 
humorous vocalism, which in the earlier days 
was supplied by local amateurs, and was rendered 
without instrumental accompaniment. Later on 
in its history, the singing was exclusively pro- 
fessional, and then in addition the prestidigitateur 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOM 23 

and the dancer might be frequently seen there. 
Rhodes, a heavily-built man, and the possessor 
of a really admirable baritone voice, took the 
chair at the head of the singers' table, and joined 
in the glees, besides himself contributing several 
rattling ditties. He made an ideal chairman, pos- 
sessed an excellent memory, was a facile mimic, 
had a ready wit, and was a past master in the 
art of the raconteur. Mr Charles Sloman, the im- 
provisatore before mentioned, was one of the 
leading attractions of the Coal Hole, in addition 
to an old singer named Joe Wells, whose ditties 
were chiefly characterised by their coarseness and 
vulgarity, although the latter was somewhat re- 
lieved by a broad and racy humour. Mr J. A. 
Cave, then rapidly rising into popularity with 
his clever Ethiopian melodies and violin accom- 
paniments, was another and brighter light of 
the establishment. An eccentric old character 
named Ben Mills was also a familiar personage 
at Rhodes's establishment. He used to sing an 
amusing ditty called * Billy Nuts, the Poet,' and 
another entitled ' Fire off the Guns.' Billy suf- 
fered acutely from rheumatics, and it was a 
somewhat ludicrous sight to see the poor old 
fellow after he had finished his 'turn' at the 
Coal Hole toiling across the Strand in the direc- 
tion of the Cyder Cellars, where he was due a 
little later on, and to get to which meant to 
Ben an immense amount of time and exertion, 



24 THE VARIETY STAGE 

to say nothing of danger from the passing vehicles. 
Mills finished up his career as a billposter, and 
in his later days might occasionally be seen in 
front of a huge hoarding upon which he would 
be vainly struggling to affix a six-sheet poster. 
The old chap's spasmodic exertions to wield the 
paste brush would have been laughable had they 
not been so pitiful. The Coal Hole is generally 
conceded to have formed the original of the ' Cave 
of Harmony,' where the scurrilous song was sung 
which so outraged the moral susceptibilities of 
Colonel Newcome. The sketch of Hoskins, the 
landlord, was apparently drawn from Rhodes 
himself, and that of little Nadab, from Sloman, 
of whom it is a life-like portrait. Thackeray, 
however, probably fused his recollection of Evans's 
and the Cyder Cellars, to be described later on, 
with that of the Coal Hole, and blended the salient 
traits of each into one striking picture. Mr John 
Rhodes died at his residence at Norwood, on Thurs- 
day, the 1st of January 1850, and the place was 
for some time carried on by his widow, and after- 
wards by a Mr John Bruton,of the Vauxhall Gardens, 
who used to take the chair promptly at eleven, and 
sing a variety of topical and comic songs, one,' The 
Cattle Show,' being exceptionally well rendered. 
The Coal Hole, popular as it was, never enjoyed 
the celebrity of its two principal rivals, and was 
among the first to go down before the keen com- 
petition which was ushered in by the music hall era. 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOM 25 

On the south side of Maiden Lane, at the 
western corner, or to be more precise at No. 
20, stood that historic temple of Apollo — the old 
Cyder Cellars, which even in 1840 had been 
sacred to the muse of song for a century and 
a half at least. In his day, it had been the 
favourite haunt of Professor Porson, that learned 
pundit doubtless fully appreciating the devilled 
kidneys, immaculate oysters and Welsh rare-bits, 
not to mention the excellent cigars, old brandy, 
good brown stout, and cool cider for which the 
establishment enjoyed a wide-spread reputation. 
In other respects, the Cyder Cellars was a 
place of notoriously bad reputation, rivalling and 
excelling in their worst aspect the peculiar features 
of the Coal Hole and Judge-and-Jury Societies 
before alluded to. In the pages of Pendennis, 
Thackeray has immortalised it under the pseu- 
donym of the 'Back Kitchen,' of which it bore 
unmistakable evidence of being the original. 
The entertainment to be found here was similar 
to that given at the Coal Hole, with its worst 
features perhaps rather more pronounced. The 
artistes specially associated with the place were 
John Moody, with his admirable mimicry, who 
was also in great demand at Vauxhall and 
public dinners ; Tom Penniket, great in his song 
of the raw recruit ' Soldier Bill ' ; Labern, and 
W. G. Ross, The latter, a comic vocalist whose 
admirable delineations of a certain type of 



26 THE VARIETY STAGE 

character, combined with power of dramatic ex- 
pression, have never been excelled. Ross started 
his career as a compositor on one of the Glasgow 
papers, singing occasionally at local harmonic 
assemblies. His success as a vocalist induced 
him to come to England and try his luck as a 
professional singer, and he made his first appear- 
ance in this character at a place known as 
Sharpie's in Bolton. He then came on to 
London, and opened at the Cyder Cellars, where 
his many excellent qualities as a character 
vocalist at once brought him into prominence. 
His first success was made in such ditties as 
'The Lively Flea,' a parody on the Ivy Green, 
'Jack Rag,' 'Pat's Leather Breeches,' 'Mrs John- 
son,' and ' Going Home with the Milk in the 
Morning.' But Ross's name will ever be associ- 
ated with his most successful essay, a song 
entitled ' Sam Hall,' which at one time was the 
rage of London, and drew dense crowds to the 
Cyder Cellars nightly to hear him in this particu- 
lar ditty. The sale of his portrait in character, 
which was sold for a shilling at the bars, had an 
enormous sale at the time, which may be taken 
as a further proof of the singer's popularit}'. 
The subject of this remarkable song was a 
chimney sweep, who is condemned to death for 
murder, and who is represented as philosophising 
on the situation the night before his execution. 
The song was startingly realistic in tone, and its 



TriE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOM 27 

rendering by Ross as powerful as it was artistic. 
The preliminary actinf^ and ' business ' adopted 
by the singer, such as the lighting up of his 
cutty pipe by the condemned criminal, his fitful 
sighs, and the air of swaggering despair with 
which he flings himself into his chair before 
breaking forth into his horrible ditty was strik- 
ingly sensational and effective. The opening 
lines of the song, which may be taken as a fair 
specimen of the rest, run as follows : — 

' My name it is Sam Hall, chimney sweep. 
My name it is Sam Hall, 
I robs both great and small, 
But they makes me pay for all, 
D — n their eyes ! ' 

The amount of brutal ferocity and pent-up fury 
which Ross managed to infuse into these lines 
was remarkable, and in this respect he was un- 
equalled by any other singer. Ross made such 
a name over this performance that Buckstone, 
then the manager of the Haymarket Theatre, 
engaged him for that house, where he opened in 
a small Irish farce. He does not appear, however, 
to have made a hit on the legitimate stage, and 
speedily returned to his old love, the concert 
platform, where in his own peculiar line he was 
probably without a rival. Ross appears to have 
belonged to a school of which Mr Charles Godfrey, 
Mr Charles Coborn and Mr Gus Elen are among 



28 THE VARIETY STAGE 

the best modern exponents. Ross, unfortunately, 
was unable to maintain his early reputation, and 
though long after the days of the Cyder Cellars 
had become numbered he continued to appear 
with varying success at the different Metropolitan 
halls, he gradually fell behind in the race for 
popularity, and died some few years back in the 
obscure capacity of a humble chorus singer. 

Mr Charles Sloman frequently figured among 
the ' stars ' at the Cyder Cellars in those days, 
and his remarkable rhyming improvisations were 
equally enjoyable if less exciting than the lyrics 
of Ross, The proprietor of the Cyder Cellars in 
its palmy days was Mr William Rhodes, a brother 
of the landlord of the neighbouring Coal Hole. 
One of his most intimate friends — and their name 
was legion — was Mr Barnabas Brough, the pro- 
genitor of a family of admirable comedians, and 
himself an actor of no mean merit. After Mr 
William Rhodes's demise, the establishment was 
carried on with considerable success by his widow, 
but it finally had to succumb to the improvements 
in public taste. Subsequently it was transmogri- 
fied into a school of arms, and lastly converted 
into a synagogue, for the purpose of which it is 
still used. 

An historical record of either the Cyder 
Cellars or the Coal Hole would be incom- 
plete without some mention of Thomas Hudson, 
one of the earliest and not the least talented 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROO.\T 29 

of vocalists, who helped to make these and the 
other song and supper-rooms of the day popular 
among the most fashionable circles. ' Tom ' 
Hudson, as he was called in convivial circles, 
was a man of considerable literary ability, and 
the author of many popular songs, some of which 
continue to be chaunted to the present day. This 
celebrated song writer, who was ' a fellow of 
infinite jest,' and wont by his compositions 'to 
set the table in a roar,' was born in Mount Street, 
Lambeth, in April 1791, and was the son of Mr 
John Hudson, of the Stamp Office, Somerset 
House. He was at the usual age apprenticed 
to a grocer, and subsequently commenced busi- 
ness in the metropolis, but appears to have pre- 
ferred the delicicB Diusaruui to the sweets of his 
own trade. He was accustomed, like many other 
professional song writers of that time, to warble 
his own ditties, which he rendered with excellent 
effect. He was at his best, perhaps, at the time 
when Moore's melodies and Dibdin's nautical 
lyrics were so popular, and some of the former 
he parodied with rare ability. Many of Hudson's 
songs, such as ' Jack Robinson,' became coined 
into catchwords, and were current among the 
street sayings of the day. A verse from this 
capital ditty conveys a good idea of this author's 
capacity as a writer, and of the style of song 
then in vogue. Jack's sweetheart is supposed 
to be excusing her infidelity to her roving lover, 



30 THE VARIETY STAGE 

and the pair discuss the situation in the following 
droll strains : — 

' Says the lady, says she, " I have changed my state." 
" Why, you don't mean," says Jack, " that you have got a 

mate ? 
"You promised to have me !'' Says she, " I couldn't wait, 
For no tidings could I gain of you. Jack Robinson. 
And somebody one day came to me and said 
That somebody else had somewhere read 
In some newspaper that you were somewhere dead." 
"Why, I've not been dead at all !" says Jack Robinson.' 

Another very popular song of this author- 
vocalist was ' The Spider and the Fly,' still fre- 
quently sung at harmonic assemblies. ' Walker, the 
Tuppenny Postman/ and ' The Dogs' Meat Man,' 
rough character studies of London life, unstained 
by vulgarity and abounding in a rich and racy 
humour peculiar to their author. Hudson excelled 
in stage Irishman's songs, then all the vogue, and 
many of these lyrics were written for, and sung 
by, Mr Fitz Williams, the comedian, Mr Rayner 
and others. Hudson died on the 26th June 1844, 
like so many others of his class, in straitened 
circumstances, although, be it said to his credit, 
he was the reverse of intemperate in his 
habits, and a model husband and parent. A 
number of warm-hearted admirers organised a 
vocal and instrumental performance for the 
benefit of his widow and children. This took 
place at the concert-room at the back of the old 
Princess's Theatre, many of the leading artistes 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOM 31 

giving their services, and the whole being under 
the distinguished patronage of the then Duke 
of Cambridge, the Lord Mayor, several sheriffs 
and aldermen, and Mr F. Duncome, M.P., a 
gentleman well known in the theatrical circles 
of that day. 

Another famous tavern of a similar character to 
those previously mentioned was the Dr Johnson, 
originally styled the Dr Johnson Concert-Room, 
in Bolt Court, Fleet Street. The Dr Johnson 
derived its name from the erudite lexicographer, 
who, when engaged upon his magnum opus^ 
resided close by, and died in the vicinity. No 
price was charged for admission to the concert 
and supper-room, the entertainment, which was 
similar to that supplied at the other taverns of 
the same genre west of Temple Bar, being quite 
gratuitous. But although there was no fee 
charged to go in, visitors had usually to pay pretty 
stiffly to go out. The reckoning was paid on 
quitting the room, a waiter totting up the account 
as you passed through. The tavern was noted 
for the excellence of its brown beer and succulent 
chops and kidneys, and, in the season, oysters 
were in great demand here, a curious old fellow- 
named Poynter wheeling in towards midnight a 
barrel full of these delicious bivalves, which 
found a ready sale with the audience. Among 
the professional singers to be heard here were 
Bob Glindon, the talented author and composer, 



32 THE VARIETY STAGE 

whose name at once suggests that admirable 
lyric, ' The Literary Dustman ' ; Sam Cowell ; 
James Bruton ; Geo. Perrin, a successful operatic 
artiste ; J. A. Cave, and those clever violinists, the 
Brothers Holmes. French, who gave costume re- 
citals, and Tom Penneket, in such ditties as ' When 
these Old Clothes were New.' were rare favourites 
here. Another capital singer who used to favour 
the Dr Johnson was John Moody, whose render- 
ing of ' Good St Anthony,' ' The Seven Ages ' 
and ' Lord Tom Noddy,' still lingers in the 
memory of those who had the rare pleasure of 
hearing them. W. G. Ross and J. W. Sharp also 
appeared here ; and, among the later ' stars,' must 
be mentioned Harry Fox, in such popular rustic 
melodies as ' The Jolly Waggoner,' etc. ; and it 
was at this concert-room that Miss Jenny Hill, 
familiar to later patrons of the halls, as the 
' Vital Spark,' made her professional debut. There 
was a chairman at this establishment — then a 
very necessary and important personage, who 
announced the singers, maintained order, and 
kept the business going briskly. One of the 
last and best of the Dr Johnson chairmen was 
Mr John Caulfield, who had been for some years 
an actor at the Haymarket, when that house 
was under the management of Mr Buckstone. 
Caulfield was a man of parts, and a song writer 
of no mean ability. After quitting the Dr 
Johnson, he officiated for some time as chairman 



THE SONG AND SUPPER-ROOM 33 

at the Canterbury and Oxford for Mr Morton. 
One of the first proprietors of the Dr Johnson 
was a Mr Brown, who was succeeded by Mr 
Isaac Bryant. The placq, which was last known 
as the City Music Hall, closed its doors as a 
place of entertainment in 1863. Part of the 
premises at the present day form the Albert 
Club, an establishment much patronised by a 
certain section of the sporting fraternity. 



CHAPTER II I 

THE VARIETY SALOON AND CONCERT-ROOM 

The Saloons — Style of Entertainments — The Grecian — Harry 
Boleno — Harry Howell — Robert Glindon — Robson — Sims 
Reeves — Salaries of Artistes — ' Bravo ' Rouse — Union 
Saloon — Miss Pearce — Dick Flexmore — The Apollo — Mr 
Love — The Bower — Mr Hodson — Miss Henrietta Hodson 
— The Albert and Effingham Saloons — The Theatres 
Registry Act — Interdict of the Lord Chamberlain — The 
Concert- Rooms — Their Origin — The Grapes — The Mogul 
— The King's Head — King and Queen — The Rose of 
Normandy — The White Lion — Moy's — Other Concert- 
Rooms — The Swan Tavern — J. W. Cherry — Charles Solo- 
mon — T. K. Symons the Song Writer — Concert-Room 
Artistes— A ' Benefit ' Bill— The Transition to the Halls. 

In addition to the song and supper-rooms dealt 
with in the preceding chapter, the variety saloon 
— a temple of amusement contemporary with the 
former, but of a quite distinct character — constitutes 
an important element in the history of the variety 
stage. In conjunction with the first-mentioned 
establishments and the harmonic assembly, an- 
other popular institution to be considered later, 
the variety saloon may be regarded as one of the 
three prime factors in the making of the modern 
music hall, which was their legitimate and immediate 
successor, and rose, phcenix-like, out of their ashes. 

34 



THE VARIETY SALOON, ETC. 35 

The ' saloon ' occupied a sort of mid-position 
between the concert-room and the theatre. It 
received its licence from the magistrates, and 
although, like the ' minor ' theatres, it was forbidden 
to produce Shakesperian drama, it appeared to 
have carte blanche to present whatever other form 
of entertainment its proprietor cared to present, or 
the latter's patrons to demand. The programmes 
usually comprised a melange of opera, drama and 
farce, in addition to a miscellaneous concert of 
vocalism, music and dancing, which wound up the 
evening. One of the earliest and most popular of 
these saloons was the Eagle in the City Road, the 
ancient reputation of which is embodied in the 
refrain of the once popular song, which declares 
that— 

' Up and down the City Road, 

In and out the Eagle, 
That's the way the money goes — 
Pop goes the weazel.' 

Though what the weazel has got to do with the 
matter, or why he should go ' pop,' is one of those 
things which, as Lord Dundreary would observe, 
' no fellow could ever understand.' 

The Eagle, or the Grecian Saloon, as it was 
sometimes called, was situated in the tea gardens 
of the adjoining tavern. In many respects it 
resembled a theatre, having a regular stage, a tier 
of boxes, and an organ by way of orchestra, the 
latter being located at the back, and during 



36 THE VARIETY STAGE 

dramatic performance, concealed by a cloth. When 
ballets came into vogue at this establishment, how- 
ever, the organ was removed and a regular orchestra 
fitted up in front. It was in these ballets that 
Harry Boleno, subsequently clown at Drury Lane, 
made his first appearance. Several excellent 
operas were produced at the Grecian, among which 
that of La Somnambula may be cited as one of the 
most successful. Among the comic artistes attached 
to the establishment were Harry Howell, who 
could give the ' Factotum ' better than any of his 
compeers, J. A. Cave and Robert Glindon. The 
latter was one of the foremost buffo singers of his 
time, as well as an author of considerable merit. 
His songs, * The Literary Dustman,' ' Biddy, the 
Basket Woman,' and others of the kind, had a wide 
reputation. He was a scenic artist, too, of no mean 
ability, and his panorama of ' London by Day and 
Night,' which he painted for the Colosseum, 
Regent's Park, where it formed for many years 
the chief attraction, ranks among the best of its 
class. When his voice failed him, Glindon became 
attached to the scenic department at Drury Lane 
Theatre, where he continued for some years, play- 
ing, in addition, small parts in the pantomime 
' openings.' He died on the 23d of February 
1866, at the age of sixty-seven. It was at the 
Grecian, too, that Fred Robson made his first hit 
in the characters of Wormwood, The Lottery Ticket^ 
and Jacob Earwig in Boots at the Swan ; and here 



k 



THE VARIETY SALOON, ETC. 37 

also, under the prosaic pseudonym of Johnson, the 
great English tenor, Sims Reeves, started on the 
road to fame. Salaries earned by the company at 
the Grecian and similar establishments in those 
days were woefully small compared to modern 
standards. Sixteen shillings a week, and even less, 
were paid to such clever artistes as Flexmore for 
playing in three different roles each evening. 
Thomas Rouse was the enterprising proprietor of the 
Eagle, and the plaudits with which his appearance 
before the footlights were greeted won for him the 
cognomen of ' Bravo ' Rouse, by which name he 
was invariably known amongst his patrons. 

The Union Saloon, Shoreditch, opened by the 
late Mr Lane, was another popular establishment 
of this class, the best talent contributing to a pro- 
gramme which comprised drama, and a good 
selection of singing and dancing. Mr Lane, how- 
ever, not having procured a licence, was compelled 
to close the saloon, whereupon he took the 
Britannia Tavern, in one of the spacious rooms 
of which his variety concerts were conducted 
several nights in the week. Subsequently Mr 
Lane built a handsome saloon on some vacant 
ground at the back of his tavern. This saloon 
was opened to the public on Easter Monday 
1 84 1, when a number of the most popular artistes 
of the day figured on the programme. Among the 
number was that delightful soprano, Miss Pearce, 
who was later on so great a favourite at the Canter- 



38 THE VARIETY STAGE 

bury and Oxford music halls. Other artistes whose 
names were more or less closely associated with 
the fame of the Britannia Saloon, were Dick Flex- 
more, the clever eccentric dancer and pantomimist, 
Sam Johnson, Cave and Moody. 

The Apollo Saloon, situated at the rear of the 
Yorkshire Stingo, Marylebone, supplied an enter- 
tainment similar to that tendered at the Eagle or 
Grecian. The programme comprised an ambitious 
operatic or dramatic performance, a farce, and a 
liberal amount of singing and dancing, in all of 
which each member of the company was expected 
to take part. The Apollo possessed a capable, if 
small orchestra, and its conductor, Mr Love, was a 
thorough musician, who subsequently filled very 
adequately the responsible position of leader at 
the Princess Theatre under Mr Charles Kean. 
Cave and Glindon were the principal comic 
vocalists here. 

Another popular saloon was the BowER, in 
Stangate Street, Lower Marsh. The Bower was 
erected early in the thirties, by a scenic artist of 
the name of Phillips, who disposed of it to Mr 
Hodson, an Irish gentleman, who had previously 
been an actor and vocalist. Mr Hodson was a 
clever composer, and some of his compositions, 
namely, ' Tell me, Mary, how to woo thee,' 
and ' The Arab Steed,' display high merit. 
His granddaughter. Miss Henrietta Hodson, a 
clever actress and vocalist, married Mr Henry 



THE VARIETY SALOON, ETC. 39 

Laboucherc, the distinguished M.P., and Editor 
of Truth. 

The Bower Saloon, facetiously nicknamed the 
' Sower Balloon,' was the starting-place in the 
histrionic careers of many subsequent celebrities, 
including, among many others, Fred Robson and 
Mr James Fernandez. 

The Albert Saloon, in Shepherdess Walk, and 
the Effingham Saloon, in the Whitechapel Road, 
were similar establishments to the last-mentioned. 
The turning-point in the history of the saloons 
occurred soon after the passing of the Theatres 
Registry Act in 1843, when Sir Henry Ponsonby, 
on behalf of the Lord Chamberlain, informed the 
proprietors that all saloons under his licence had 
in future to be conducted as theatres, and to bear 
that description. The choice was given them of 
becoming either legitimate theatres with dramatic 
entertainments, but without the privilege of re- 
tailing refreshments in the auditorium, or regular 
music halls with drinking licence, but minus the 
right of producing what the Act defined as ' stage 
plays.' Some of the saloons elected to run on 
variety lines, while others, notably the Grecian 
and the Britannia, thenceforth devoted themselves 
exclusively to the drama. 

The tavern concert-rooms, which between fifty 
and sixty years ago abounded in all parts of the 
Metropolis, possess greater claims than even the 
saloons or song and supper-rooms, closely allied 



40 THE VARIETY STAGE 

though the three forms of entertainment were to 
be regarded as the immediate progenitor of the 
music hall. Indeed, the majority of the existing 
temple of variety, to say nothing of those which 
have passed out of existence, had their origin in 
these establishments, on the sites of, or in connec- 
tion with which, they sprang up, and after which 
many were actually christened. 

The concert - room appears to have been a 
development of the casual harmonic assemblies, 
which most tavern proprietors who could com- 
mand the services of a pianist and a sufficient 
amount of local talent were accustomed to hold in 
their club-room or largest parlour. 

Among the oldest and best known of these 
concert-rooms were the Grapes, in Southwark ; 
the old Mogul, under the proprietorship of Mr 
Cook, in Drury Lane ; the King's Head, Knights- 
bridge ; the King and Queen, Paddington Green ; 
the White Lion, in the Edgware Road ; the Rose 
of Normandy, Marylebone ; the Ironmongers Arms, 
in Old Street ; St Luke's, where Mrs Lane, then 
Miss Wilton, radi.dQ'h&r debut ; the Swan, in Hunger- 
ford Market; the Hungerford Hall, in the same 
locality; the Salmon and Compass, Pentonville; the 
New Inn, Westminster Bridge Road, nearly facing 
Astley's ; Deacon's, in Clerkenwell ; the Salmon, 
in Union Street, Borough ; afterwards known as 
the Alexandra, which was destroyed by fire on 
September 28th, 1871, and reopened by Mr Henry 



THE VARIETY SALOON, ETC. 41 

Hart of the Raglan, in Theobald's Road, on Boxing 
Night, 1872, with Mr George Ware as manager ; and 
the Royal Standard, in the Vauxhall Bridge Road, 
kept by Mr J. Moy, and familiarly known as ' Moy's.' 
The Swan Tavern, which stood by the side of 
the river and was afterwards swallowed up in the 
construction of the Charing Cross Railway Station, 
was a very select establishment. The concert- 
room occupied the whole of the basement, with 
seating accommodation for upwards of three 
hundred people. Mr J. W. Cherry, the composer 
of ' Will o' the Wisp ' and other popular ditties, 
occasionally presided at the piano, a position which 
was at other times admirably filled by Mr Charles 
Solomon, the father of the late Edward Solomon, 
the celebrated composer. Mr Dawson, the pro- 
prietor, was indefatigable in procuring the best 
talent available, and one of the favourite vocalists 
to be heard here was Mr T. K. Symons, the author 
of the once popular ditties ' Don't I wish I was Fat/ 
and ' The Jolly Man.' The majority of these 
rooms were usually open only three nights a week, 
and it was customary for an artiste not to appear 
more than three evenings a week at the same 
establishment. The Grapes was an exception 
to this rule, Mr Pearce, the proprietor, engaging 
his company for the week at a fixed salary, thirty 
shillings being the price paid to really good * turns.' 
In other cases, an artiste was generally remuner- 
ated for his services by the evening, his modest 



42 THE VARIETY STAGE 

honorarium being somewhat augmented by a 
stipulated number of gratuitous drinks. At these 
concert-rooms appeared the rank and file of the 
variety profession, such as it was in those days, and 
at the more prosperous establishments some of the 
West End stars were frequently engaged. Mr E. 
W. Mackney, the inimitable negro melodist, Sam 
Collins, the versatile Irish vocalist, and Mr Charles 
Sloman, the improvisatore, were sometimes to be 
seen at such places as the King's Head, Moy's, and 
similar resorts. Mrs J. Taylor, a clever character 
vocalist and ' male impersonator,' and Mr J. 
Morley, a good comic singer and comedian, were 
also popular favourites at these establishments, 
in the chameleon-like programme of which variety 
was the conspicuous and all-prevailing element. 
Most of the features which characterise the modern 
music-hall entertainment had here already begun 
to take definite form and shape. The sentimental 
vocalist, the male impersonator, the comic singer, 
the Ethiopian minstrel, the ventriloquist, and the 
step-dancer were familiar performers at the resorts 
in question, with the proprietors and patrons of 
which such entertainers were extremely popular. 

The ' Benefit ' bill,— bills, by the way were only 
issued on the occasion of benefits — which is repro- 
duced on the other side, will perhaps convey a still 
better idea of the nature of the entertainment 
supplied at these concert-rooms, and of the sort of 
artistes who contributed to the programme. 



THE VARIETY SALOON, ETC. 43 

ROYAL STANDARD, 

VAUXHALL BRIDGE ROAD, PIMLICO. 

LICENSED PURSUANT ^j^^^ TO ACT OF PARLIAMENT. 
Proprietor, Mr J. MOY. 



MR KENNEDY 

(violonist), 

Of the above well-known place of Amusement, respectfully announces 
to his P" fiends and the Public in general, that his 

FOURTH ANNUAL BENEFIT 

CONCERT 

WILL TAKE PLACE 

On TUESDAY Evening, July 9th, 1850. 



J. K., in announcine; this Entertainment, has the gratification of 
asserting that, during the period of his engagement at the above 
Establishment, he has studiously endeavoured to deserve the good 
opinion and patronage of the frequenters of the Room ; and assures 
the Public that every efl'ort will be made on this occasion to produce 
a Series of Entertainments calculated to gratify those Ladies and 
Gentlemen who may honour him with their presence. The 
following Ladies and Gentlemen will have the honour of appearing : 

Mrs J. TAYLOR, Mrs PAUL, Miss WILSON, Miss ANDER- 
SON, Miss NEWTON and Miss THOMAS. 
Messrs E. G. ALFORD, F. LONG, G. THOMAS, J. MORLEY, 
Young THOMSON, J. DAVIS, T. DUNN, W. J. WEST, 
P. RYLAND, C. MACDONALD, W. FERRY, J. BUCK and 
J. RICHARDS. 

J. K. has great pleasure in announcing that in the course of the 

Evening 

Mr Charles SLOMAN 

The only English Improvisatore (Author and Composer of the 
' Maid of Judah,' ' Daughter of Israel '), will deliver ' My'horama,' or 
Extemporaneous Vocal Synopsis of Men and Manners. 

Mrs J. TAYLOR 

The Established Favourite, will sing the ' Middy on Shore,' the 

'Waggoner,' and the 'Acting Schoolboy.' 



44 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Mr E. G. ALFORD 

Will sing ' Shells of the Ocean,' and * My Father's Land.' (By 
particular desire.) 

Songs. . . . Hard Up. and Courting in the Dark, Mr RAYMOND 
Ballads, . The Rich Man's Bride, and The Lover's Farewell, Mrs PAUL 
Nautical Songs, Southerly Winds, and The Sea-beach Shore, . Mr F. LONG 
Comic Songs, The Lively Flea, and Anything to Yarn a Crust, Mr J. MORLEY 
Ballad, " . . . The Song of Reconciliation, , Miss ANDERSON 

Song, Little Red Riding Hood (accompanying herself on the Pianoforte) 

Miss THOMAS 
Comic Songs, . . Jerry Nuts, and The Auctioneer, . Mr THOMAS 



After which the 

AMERICAN MINSTRELS 

Messrs T. Dunn, W, J. West, P. Ryland and C. Macdonald 

Will appear in their New Entertainment, introducing the 

Far -Famed 

COMIC TALES of THE NEW COUNTRY. 

(From the Royal Flora Gardens.) 

YOUNG THOMSON 

The Lancashire Step Dancer (late of the Surrey Music Hall), will 
perform his celebrated Clog Dance, introducing loo Different Steps. 

DANCE IN REAL PATTENS & CLOGS - MR H. MORLEY 

(Late of the Queen's Theatre.) 

Songs. . . . The Haymakers, and Go forget me, . . Mr LONG 

Comic Song, . . . Stage-struck Barber, . Mr J. MORLEY 

Song, . . . When this Old Hat was New. . Mr THOMAS 

Ballad, .... Bid me discourse, . . . Mrs PAUL 



In the course of the Evening 

JUBA DAVIS 

Will perform his celebrated Medley Overture, entitled THE 
BREAKING of the JUBA! 

Several Ladies and Gentlemen have kindly consented to appear 
on the occasion, whose names are not inserted in this bill owing to 
their numerous engagements elsewhere. 

Pianoforte, .Mr FERRY 

Violins, Messrs KENNEDY & BUCK 

Cornopean, Mr RICHARDS 

Managing Director, Mr G. THOMAS 

Tickets to be had of Messrs Kennedy and Thomas in the Room, 
an early application for which is solicited. 

Concert Nights Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 



THE VARIETY SALOON, ETC. 45 

From the foregoing it will be seen that ' variety ' 
was the prevailing element at shows of this de- 
scription, and that from the concert-room, with its 
varied programme of popular artistes, its freedom 
and its conviviality, the transition to the music 
hall proper, with which we have next to deal, was 
an easy and natural gradation. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE MUSIC HALL 

The Rise of the Halls— The Old Rotunda— The First Music Hall 
— Its Early Associations — Mr and Mrs Johnny Wilde^ 
The Surrey, afterwards The Winchester — Richard Preece — 
His Art Collection— M. Phillips— Zeluti—T. Norris— The 
Yokes Family — William Warde, and his Clever Children — 
The Great Mogul— The Middlesex— E. Winder— Harry 
Fox — Later Proprietors — Mr J. L. Graydon — A Patron of 
Budding Talent — Dan Leno — Pat Feeney — Gus Leach — 
The Old Canterbury — An ancient Hostelry and Ferry 
House — Pilgrims, and Knightly Wassailers — Theatrical 
Connections — Host Warbridge — The Canterbury Arms — 
Morton and Stanley — The Weekly ' Harmonic ' — The First 
Canterbuiy Hall — ^John Caulfield and Ferdinand Jongh- 
mann — High Salaries and High Art — Augustus Braham and 
Miss Turpin — Miss Russell — Operatic Selections — Popular- 
ising Gounod and Offenbach — The Second Canterbury 
Hall — Its Picture Gallery — 'The Royal Academy over 
the Water ' — Ritchie's Description — Later History of the 
Canterbury — William Holland — His Enterprises — George 
Leybourne, the ' Lion ' Comique — His Carriage and Pair 
* By way of Advertisement ' — The New Canterbury — Edwin 
Villiers — Music Hall ' Stars ' — Ballets and Spectacles — 
Royal Visitors — Subsequent History of The Canterbury — 
Its earlier Rivals — The Spread Eagle — East London — 
Prince of Wales — Frampton's — Wilton's, Wellclose Square 
— Weston's. 

To the Old Rotunda Assembly Room, which stood 

on the right-hand side of the Blackfriars Road, 

close to the Bridge, belongs the distinction of hav- 

46 



THE MUSIC HALL 47 

ing anticipated by many years the subsequent 
development on music hall lines of any similar 
establishments. As early as the year 1829, when 
Sloman appeared at this hall, variety entertain- 
ments were the principal form of amusement given 
here, and the Rotunda must be regarded as the 
pioneer of the general movement in the same 
direction adopted some fifteen years later by its 
contemporaries. The history of the Rotunda ex- 
tends back to the time of the Georges, when it 
formed one of the favourite haunts of the bucks 
and bloods of the day, and was patronised by a 
' set ' which was said to include the ' first gentleman 
in England' himself It may interest admirers of 
that inimitable little variety comedian, Mr Dan 
Leno, to learn that, at the old Rotunda, his parents 
appeared as duettists and dancers under the de- 
scription of Mr and Mrs Johnny Wilde. The 
proprietor of this hall was a Mr Wallis, of Wallis 
& Wood, but he was later on succeeded by Mr 
Wood, of Wood & Bennett. Its name was 
changed subsequently to the Bijou. About twelve 
years ago, when it v/as flourishing exceedingly, and 
when its then owner had serious thoughts of en- 
larging the hall, the authorities ordered it to be 
closed on account of a cock fight having been per- 
mitted to be held within its walls. 

Of the tavern concert-rooms, one of the earliest 
to burst its chrysalis state, and emerge into the 
full-grown m.usic hall, was the Grapes, in the 



48 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Southwark Bridge Road. This establishment was 
also one of the first to style itself a music hall in 
the modem sense of the term, and under the de- 
scription of the Surrey Music Hall was well known 
to pleasure-seekers early in the forties. The hall, 
which was prettily decorated, was capable of seat- 
ing as many as a thousand persons, and in the 
upper hall might be seen a valuable collection of 
pictures which the enterprising proprietor, Mr 
Richard Preece, had secured from M. Phillips, a 
French artist whom he was instrumental in intro- 
ducing to the British public. The hall was pro- 
vided with an excellent orchestra under the 
direction of Mr Zeluti, while the arduous position 
of manager was filled with great credit by Mr T. 
Norris. The clever Vokes Family were among the 
many well-known entertainers who appeared here. 
The company here used on an average to cost about 
£'ip a week. Louie Sherrington sang here on 
many occasions, and Willie and Emma Ward were 
very successful in their song ' The Gigham Um- 
brella,' besides whom Pat P. Fannin, a smart dancer, 
and Mr and Mrs Jack Carroll, negro banjoists and 
dancers, were rare favourites with its patrons. 

Closely identified, too, for many years with the 
earlier history of the Surrey Music Hall was 
William Warde, the father of Mrs D'Auban, 
whose fame as a dancer has been for many years 
established. When the Surrey Gardens were 
formed, and the handsome edifice known as the 



THE MUSIC HALL 49 

Surrey Music Hall — which was a music hall in the 
classic sense only — was erected on part of its 
grounds, Mr Preece changed the name of his estab- 
lishment to the Winchester, which it retained till 
its demolition for building purposes in 1878. 

The Great Mogul, passing from Mr Cook into 
the hands of Mr E. Winder, was altered and en- 
larged, and, in a vastly improved form, made a 
fresh bid for popularity under the name of the 
Middlesex Music Hall. Mr Winder found a 
capital ally in the person of Mr Harry Fox, the 
comic vocalist, who rapidly became one of the 
leading attractions in the programme, and whose 
burly form and jovial countenance were for many 
years, and under several changes of proprietorship, 
associated with the chairman's table. When Mr 
Winder subsequently took over the White Lion 
in the Edgware Road, in order to convert it into 
the Metropolitan Music Hall, he was succeeded in 
the proprietorship of the Middlesex by a Mr 
Wood, who shortly afterwards parted with his 
interest to Mr Lake, who in 1872 rebuilt the pre- 
mises, which were again altered in 1875. ^^^^ 
Lake was the predecessor of its present esteemed 
proprietor, Mr J. L. Graydon, who, in the year 
1878, acquired the hall, which a year later, in con- 
sequence of increased patronage, he was compelled 
to enlarge. Further extensions were made in 1891, 
involving an expenditure of over i^ 12,000. The 
Middlesex Music Hall is closely associated with 

D 



50 THE VARIETY STAGE 

the earlier careers of many popular artistes of the 
past and present. Here, under the friendly aegis 
of its present shrewd and enterprising proprietor, 
many a budding ' pro. ' has made his first success- 
ful bid for public patronage. Behind the glare of 
its footlights, too, not a few favourite ' stars ' have 
sung their last song, and heard for the final time 
the ringing round of applause which only a Middle- 
sex audience knows how to give. It was at the 
Middlesex that Mr Dan Leno first began to tickle 
the risible faculties of Metropolitan audiences with 
his quaint characterisations and mirth-provoking 
patter ; and at this hall poor Pat Feeney, shattered 
in health and spirits, with the death-damp already 
on his brow, struggled through his last professional 
engagement, a little while previous to his untimely 
demise. With the Middlesex Music Hall, too, the 
name of Gus Leach is closely connected. For many 
years Mr Leach, who at the time of writing we 
regret to hear is seriously ill, was general manager 
and chairman at this hall. At present he is pro- 
prietor of, and has conducted on excellent lines for 
some time past, an establishment of his own ' down 
Hoxton way,' as Mr Chevalier would put it, which 
will claim the attention of the reader later on. ■ 

To return to the earlier period with which we 
are at present mainly concerned, it was not until 
the establishment by Mr Charles Morton, in con- 
junction with his brother-in-law, Mr Stanley, of 
the Canterbury Hall in the Westminster Bridge 



THE MUSIC HALL 51 

Road, in 1849, that the infant music hall began to 
attract the attention of the general public as a 
place of reputable entertainment. 

The Canterbury Hall occupied the site of what 
was once an ancient hostelry and ferry house. As 
late as the year 18 16, a brook meandered through 
the marsh from Searle's boat-building yard, pass- 
ing the doors of the inn, before the entrance to 
which stood an old willow tree, as shown in con- 
temporary illustrations. To those who are fond 
of topography, the following further details may 
perhaps prove entertaining. When the Canons 
of Rochester obtained possession of the Manor, the 
house became a pilgrims' inn. Here stopped the 
pilgrims who came to pray at the shrines in the 
chapel of the archbishops, as did many learned 
men while visiting at the ecclesiastical palace. 
The kings of England, and the great nobles, with 
their companions and servants, also rested at this 
spot during their journeys to Kensington Palace, 
where many parliaments were held in the time of 
the Henrys and Edwards. Mary's retainers made 
the walls ring with their loyal toasts when she 
visited Cardinal Pole at Lambeth, and many of 
Elizabeth's followers held high revel in the old 
inn, while she dined with Archbishop Parker in 
the hall. The fathers of the English stage, 
Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, with their friends 
and fellow - actors, Burbage, Cundall, Hemings, 
Phillips and Pope, when in attendance on Her 



52 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Majesty, would also often stop at this house of 
call rather than journey home through the marshes 
of St George's Fields to their houses by the Black- 
friars Theatre, or the Globe at Bankside. At the 
time of the Reformation the house lost its priestly 
patronage, but not its utility as a place of public 
entertainment, and, following the example of the 
other pilgrims' inns, it changed its name ; but more 
faithful to the source of its former prosperity than 
the rest, the new owner, Cuthbert Warbridge, called 
his house the Canterbury Arms, and under this 
designation it remained till Mr Charles Morton, 
who took possession of the inn in 1848, conceived 
the idea of converting it into a music hall. Mr 
Morton had frequently spent a pleasant evening at 
Evans's, and the evident appreciation of the public 
for the style of entertainment there provided sug- 
gested to him the desirability of instituting a some- 
what similar style of catering at his own tavern. 
In the rear of the latter there was a large room, 
in which the tradesmen and others of the neigh- 
bourhood were accustomed to meet and smoke 
their churchwardens, and in this apartment a 
weekly harmonic meeting was commenced. In 
addition to amateur talent, Mr Morton gave 
piquancy to the proceedings by introducing two 
or three professionals. These concerts were held 
on Saturday evenings ; no charge was made for 
admission, and from the first the venture was a 
complete success. The entertainments were then 



THE MUSIC HALL 53 

given on Thursdays as well as Saturdays, with simi- 
lar results, the room being packed to overflowing. 

Within a year the first Canterbury Hall was 
erected. It was built on a large piece of ground at 
the back of the tavern, which had served as a skittle 
alley, and was constructed to accommodate about 
700 persons ; a small charge was made for admis- 
sion, and an entertainment was given similar to 
that which prevailed at Evans's. There was no 
stage, only a large platform. Mr John Caulfield 
acted as chairman, and the musical conductor was 
Mr Jonghmann. Mr Morton spared no expense to 
make his undertaking a success, paying as much 
as £^0 a week to the first-class artistes. Among 
the latter who appeared here were Augustus 
Braham, son of the celebrated tenor ; Miss 
Turpin, afterwards Mrs Henry Wallack ; and 
Miss Russell, a niece of the distinguished song 
writer, who was one of the foremost prima donni 
of her time, and enjoys the distinction of having 
been the first ' Marguerite ' to Gounod's Faust 
music in this country, and the original of all the 
chief feminine roles in Offenbach's operas. The 
comic element was well represented here by such 
talented vocalists as Sam Cowell, E. W. Mackney, 
and a host of other genuine comic singers. It is a 
noteworthy fact that it was at this hall that selec- 
tions from Faust were first rendered in England, 
and Offenbach's music first popularised. Indeed, 
one of the most marked characteristics of the 



54 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Canterbury in its early days was the predomin- 
ance given to classical music, the works of the great 
masters of melody being interpreted by the best 
artistes that money and enterprise could procure. 
The best productions of continental composers 
were treated with the same conscientious care and 
finish, and produced with the same lavish and 
unstinted outlay which was bestowed upon the 
works of the English musician ; while the lighter 
and more popular form of entertainment, as re- 
presented by the comic element, was characterised 
by the same spirit of liberality and good taste. 
As a natural result, the popularity of the Canter- 
bury rapidly grew among Londoners of every 
class, and the establishment was packed nightly 
with large and appreciative audiences. 

The necessity for further enlargement of the 
building soon became evident, and without delay 
a new hall was erected over the old one, the 
work being proceeded with in such a manner 
that the performances at the latter were in no 
way interfered with. A certain Saturday evening 
saw the demolition of the old building, and the 
following Monday the opening of the new. To 
the latter was added an admirable picture gallery, 
which Punch in its description of it aptly termed, 
' The Royal Academy over the Water.' 

The following graphic description of the old 
Canterbury Concert-Room is taken from Mr 
J. E. Ritchie's book on The Night Side of London, 



THE MUSIC HALL 55 

in which appears an interesting account of the 
author's visit to that popular establishment : — 

' A well-lighted entrance attached to a public- 
house indicates that we have reached our destina- 
tion. We proceed up a few stairs, along a passage 
lined with handsome engravings to a bar, where 
we pay sixpence if we take a seat in the body 
of the hall, and ninepence if we ascend into the 
gallery. We make our way leisurely along the 
floor of the hall, which is well lighted, and 
capable of holding 1500 people. A balcony 
extends round the room in the form of a horse- 
shoe. At the opposite end to that at which 
we enter is the platform, on which are placed 
a grand piano and a harmonium on which the 
performers play in the intervals when the previous 
singers have left the stage. The chairman sits 
just beneath them. It is dull work to him, but 
there he must sit drinking and smoking cigars 
from seven to twelve o'clock. The room is 
crowded, and almost every gentleman has a pipe 
or a cigar in his mouth. Evidently the majority 
present are respectable mechanics or small trades- 
men with their wives and daughters and sweet- 
hearts. Now and then you see a midshipman, or 
a few fast clerks and warehousemen. Everyone is 
smoking, and everyone has a glass before him ; 
but the class that come here are economical, and 
chiefly confine themselves to pipes and porter.' 

To relate the later history of the Canterbury 



56 THE VARIETY STAGE 

with anything like detail might well fill volumes, 
but a brief record of its subsequent career will 
answer the purpose of the present work. In 
1863, Mr Stanley retired from the partnership, 
and Mr Morton became sole proprietor until Box- 
ing Night 1867, when Mr William Holland, who 
had just severed his connection with Weston's, 
took over the reins of management. The house 
was now re-decorated, upholstered and appointed 
with that charming disregard of expense which 
characterises all the enterprises of this popular 
and discriminating caterer, and the house became 
an edition de luxe of its former self. Quick 
to appreciate the changes in public taste, Mr 
Holland introduced important modifications into 
the programme. The variety and comic elements 
became the prevailing items in the evening bill, 
while the operatic selections were curtailed and 
gradually discarded. George Leybourne, the ' lion ' 
comique, was then just rising into popularity, 
and with true showman's instinct Mr Holland 
presented him with a carriage and pair, on 
condition, however, that George should drive 
about in it ' by way of advertisement,' a con- 
dition to which it is perhaps needless to say the 
great comique willingly assented. Mr Leybourne, 
by the way, was exclusively engaged by Mr 
Holland for one year at the then princely salary 
of ;^20 per week. On the 23d of September 1876, 
the new Canterbury, which is to all intents and 



THE MUSIC HALL 5? 

purposes the present house, was opened under the 
management of Mr R. Edwin VilHers, who had 
purchased the old hall from Mr Holland. The pre- 
mises occupied the site of several adjoining houses, 
and the cost of erection exceeded ;C40,ooo. They 
covered an area of 27,000 superficial feet, or about 
two-thirds of an acre, and were built from designs 
of the late Mr Albert Bridgeman. The audi- 
torium was one hundred feet in length from the 
orchestra to the back wall, and seventy feet in width. 
The programme at that time contained the 
names, amongst others, of the ' Great ' Vance, 
George Leybourne, Fred Coyne, Fred Albert, 
Pat Feeney, Fred Laroche, Arthur Roberts, 
James Fawn, the elder Randall, F. Jonghmann, 
Nelly Power, Ada Wilson, Madame Bartholdi, and 
Phyllis Broughton, the latter being principal dancer 
in the ballet with Florence Powell. The house 
opened with a ballet called Ceres, which was 
succeeded by one entitled Tlie Reign of Love. 
Nine months^ after th e opening, the grand 
spectacular ballet Plevna was produced and 
scored an instantaneous success. The Canter- 
bury at that time, it should be mentioned, was 
the only place in London where really good 
ballets could be seen, and consequently all the 
town came over the water to see them. Amongst 
the visitors were the Prince of Wales, who came 
on three occasions, the Duke of Cambridge, and 
the Duke and Duchess of Teck. Trafalgar, which 



58 THE VARIETY STAGE 

followed, was similarly successful. Mr Frewin 
presided over the orchestra at this period, and Mr 
Tressidder, the father of Mr Arthur and Mr Adolphe 
Tressidder, was stage manager. Arthur, who died 
in Australia on March 27th, 1894, used to assist his 
father in the stage management, and succeeded 
him in that office, while Adolphe took the part 
of the Sultan of Turkey in Plevna. He left to go 
on tour with a troupe, in the course of which he 
went abroad, and on his return was offered the post 
of stage manager at the London Pavilion, a position 
which he accepted and has retained ever since. 

In 1878, Mr R. E. Villiers gave up the Canter- 
bury, which was taken over by Mr Edward Garcia 
of Manchester, but he only ran it for a year and 
then failed. Mr J. Baum was the next proprietor ; 
after that a Mr Stuart took it, and was succeeded 
in turn by Messrs Crowder & Payne, who re- 
duced the prices, and, once more, made a success 
of the house. The last-named gentleman retained 
possession of the Canterbury till it passed into the 
hands of the present Company. 

Simultaneously with the rise of the Canterbury, 
other halls began to spring up in various parts 
of the Metropolis. Frampton's, which was cap- 
able of seating 1000 persons, was among the 
best of the smaller halls. It enjoyed, however, 
but a brief and chequered career. It was opened 
in 1858 by Mr Frampton, who gave ;^28oo for 
the property. It subsequently passed into the 



THE MUSIC HALL 59 

hands of mortgagees, who sold it to Mr Krauche, 
by whom its name was changed to the Lord Nelson. 
It opened its doors for the last time in 1861. 

Wilton's Music Hall, in Wellclose Square, 
which opened on March 28th, 1859, was a larger 
and more flourishing establishment, and continued 
to enjoy varying prosperity until about the year 
1879, when it was finally closed. 

Following closely in the wake of the Canterbury, 
a number of similar establishments sprang up in 
rapid succession in different quarters of the town. 

The Rose of Normandy Tavern, previously 
referred to as a concert-room, was taken by Mr 
Sam Collins, an Irish vocalist of rare talent and 
great popularity, who, under the name of the Mary- 
lebone, converted it into a regular music hall. Mr 
Collins, who also became about this time pro- 
prietor of the Upper Welsh Harp, which, with 
true Irish patriotism, he re-christened the Irish 
Harp, parted with his interest in the Marylebone 
in 1 86 1 to Mr W. Dotting, in whose hands it con- 
tinued to enjoy a fairly prosperous existence down 
to this gentleman's demise a few years since. 

The Philharmonic, Islington, was established 
by Mr Fred Saunders and Mr Edward Lacey, on 
the site now occupied by Mr Charles Wilmot's 
handsome theatre, the Grand. On Mr Saunders' 
retirement, Mr Sam Adams joined Mr Lacey, 
the last-mentioned gentleman being succeeded 
in the joint proprietorship by Mr John Turnham, 



6o THE VARIETY STAGE 

who continued with Mr Adams to rule the des- 
tinies of the house for some years. 

In the Theobald's Road, Bloomsbury, Mr Henry 
Hart established in i860 The Lord Raglan, which 
was swallowed up some few years back for street 
improvements by the Metropolitan Board of Works. 

The same period saw the establishment in 
Knightsbridge of the Trevor, by Mr J. R. Street, 
and the SUN, by Mr E. Williams. Both halls, how- 
ever, have closed their doors for some years past, 
and their glory has long departed. 

At the East End, similar activity was displayed 
by amusement caterers in meeting the growing 
demands of the public for entertainments of the 
music-hall order. In Whitechapel, several at- 
tractive halls — to wit, Gilbert's, Turner's, the Rod- 
ney and the Lord Nelson, put forth rival claims 
for public patronage, while the establishment of 
Mr Phillips, in the Commercial Road, which was 
known as the Great Eastern Music Hall, and was 
one of the principal halls that arose after Weston's ; 
the Apollo, in Hare Street, Bethnal Green ; the 
Lamb in Three Colt Lane ; the Woodman at 
Hoxton, and the Spread Eagle in the Kingsland 
Road, which was owned by Mr Groves, and there 
Mr W. J. Adams, the father of Miss Emily Adams 
(Mrs Marlow), who was a clever comic singer, 
used to appear, as did also the Revill Family, 
besides other celebrities of that time, swelled the 
list of competitors. 



THE MUSIC HALL 6i 

The Eagle in the Mile End Road was owned 
by Mr A. Ward until Mr W. Lusby took it, and 
after a while erected a platform for dancing in the 
grounds, and called the place Lusby 's Summer and 
Winter Garden. He built a larger hall, and remained 
proprietor until Messrs Crowder & Payne bought it 
in the June of 1878. It was afterwards burnt down, 
and then the present handsome edifice, known as 
the Paragon, was erected. It is at present owned by 
the Canterbury and Paragon Company, Limited, and 
its popular manager is Mr Will Lennon, who for- 
merly acted in a similar capacity at the Marylebone. 

In Poplar, amusement-seekers were provided 
with the Apollo Music Hall, conducted by Mr 
Michael Abrahams, which was only open on 
Saturday and Monday nights. It is now known 
as the Queen's, Poplar, and is still managed 
by the above-named gentleman, with whom is 
associated Mr James Chappell. The chairman 
of this hall for many years was the late Mr 
Frank Escourt, the husband of Miss Annie 
Dunbar, the popular serio-comic. 

The Victor, Old Ford, and the Three Crowns at 
Bow were both under the proprietorship of Mr 
Hawkins. The latter hall was afterwards owned 
by Mr Marlow, and called by his name. He sold 
it recently to a limited company, who christened it 
the Eastern Empire. The venture, however, has not 
proved a success, in spite of the efforts of Mr 
Fred Law, the manager, and the hall is now closed. 



62 THE VARIETY STAGE 

The first music hall, however, to contest the 
growing popularity of the Canterbury was 
Weston's, originally the Holborn National School- 
rooms, of which, together with the adjoining 
tavern, Mr Edward Weston was the then lessee. 
Mr Weston was succeeded in the proprietorship 
of this popular establishment by Messrs Sweasey 
& Holland, Mr Sweasey becoming sole pro- 
prietor in 1867. When Mr Purkiss succeeded the 
last-mentioned proprietor, the place changed its 
name to the Royal, with the late Mr Sam Adams 
as manager. Mr Purkiss disposed of his interest 
to a public company, which subsequently went 
into liquidation. The present proprietors are 
Messrs Brill & Ellis, under whose skilful catering the 
hall maintains a high reputation. Familiar person- 
ages at present connected with the staff of this estab- 
lishment are Mr Arthur Swanborough, the genial 
manager, a worthy representative of a well-known 
theatrical stock, and Mr George Burgess, the cap- 
able treasurer, who has for many years past been 
associated with the fortunes of this popular house. 

The success which attended the opening of 
Weston's, convinced many influential caterers that 
the time was ripe for establishing other halls in 
the West End on similar lines to those adopted 
by Mr Morton and others with so much success. 
The popular establishments which now began to 
rise and flourish on every hand, demand, how- 
ever, a separate chapter to themselves. 



CHAPTER V 

PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 

Rapid Development of the Variety Stage — The South London 
— The Site of a Roman Catholic Chapel — Messrs Tindall 
& Villiers — Description of Hall — Its Destruction by Fire 
— Speedy & Poole — Mr J. J. Poole — His Previous Career 
— Ballets and Spectacular Pieces — Phayitasy — ^J. Dallas — 
Cyprus — Mr James Fawn — Miss Kate Seymour — Waiter 
Slaughter — Mr Barrington Foote — Connie Gilchrist — 
Earlier Artistes — George Leybourne — How He became a 
' Lion ' Comique — The ' Great ' Macdermott and ' The 
Scamp' — Nelly Power — The Musical Directorate — Past 
Managers — Fred Law — 'Baron' Courtney — The Rise of 
the Oxford — The Boar and Castle — Its Traditions and 
Associations — The Fire of 1868 — The New Hall — Messrs 
Syers & Taylor— J. H. Jennings— The Fire of 1872— 
The Present Oxford — The Bedford — Deacon's — Arthur 
Roberts and Fred Williams — The Oriental — Mr Morris 
Abrahams — The Old London Pavilion — Messrs Loibl 
& Sonhammer — Mr Edwin Villiers — Popular Favourites 
— Pavilion Chairmen of the Past — Russell Grover — 
Harry Cavendish — Harry Vernon — The New London 
Pavilion. 

Dealing in chronological order with the various 
halls which now began to start up on every side, 
the first establishment of any importance to follow 
in the wake of Weston's was the old South 
London, which opened its doors to the public for 
the first time on the 30th of December i860. 

63 



64 THE VARIETY STAGE 

This hall, which covered the site of a Roman 
Catholic Chapel, was erected by its proprietors. 
Messrs Tindall & Villiers, at a very heavy cost, 
and formed one of the handsomest halls yet 
devoted to Momus and Apollo. The approach 
from the outer thoroughfare was spacious and 
columnar, adorned with statues, and arranged 
after the style of a Roman villa. The hall 
itself, which was entered from this elegant vesti- 
bule, was tastefully and artistically appointed, 
and presented to the eye a rich and brilliant 
appearance. In shape, it was oblong, and pro- 
vided with double corridors, which were divided 
from the grand hall by circular columns, from 
which sprang a series of arches. The company 
engaged for the opening night comprised many 
of the principal vocalists and leading entertainers 
of the day, including the ' inimitable ' E. W. 
Mackney, the forerunner and prototype of a 
whole host of Ethiopian minstrels. Mr Charles 
Davenport was the first to fill the arduous 
position of chef d'orchestre, a post which he con- 
tinued to occupy with conspicuous ability until 
superseded in 1862 by Mr T. Gordon, who 
combined the dual office of musical conductor 
and chairman. On March 28th, 1869, the estab- 
lishment was destroyed by fire, but Mr Villiers, 
with characteristic energy, at once set to work to 
repair the mischief, and this pretty and popular 
transpontine hall was rebuilt within a period of 



PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 65 

nine months, and again opened to the public on 
the 19th of the following December. 

In 1S74, Mr Villiers parted with his interest in 
the South London to the late Mr J. J. Poole, Mr 
H. P. Speedy and a brother of the latter, who 
continued as partners for a period of over seven 
years, when Mr Poole became sole proprietor. 

Mr J. J. Poole, who was not only a skilful and 
enterprising manager, but a musician and com- 
poser of some merit, had already undergone a 
varied and interesting career. At the age of 
twenty, he had filled the position of musical 
director at the T. R. Birmingham, afterwards join- 
ing in the same capacity a theatrical company 
under the management of a Mr Sydney, with 
whom he toured the northern circuit, writing all 
the music for the burlesques, pantomimes and other 
productions. Coming to London, he obtained an 
engagement as manager and musical director at the 
Metropolitan, then Turnham's, which he left when 
the latter was taken over by Mr Winder, and 
connected himself with an operatic company. At 
Mr Winder's request, however, he returned to his 
former position. When the Metropolitan was sold 
by Mr Winder to Mr George Speedy, the latter 
gentlernan stipulated for the retention of Mr Poole's 
services. Here he remained, filling an exacting 
position with that care and conscientiousness 
which characterised all his undertakings, until Mr 
Gooch purchased the Metropolitan, when the 

K 



66 THE VARIETY STAGE 

successful partnership before referred was immedi- 
ately started. After the death of Mr Poole, which 
occurred on October 6th, 1882, the establishment 
was carried on with great success by his widow, 
a lady whose rare business aptitude and tact are 
only equalled by her personal amiability and un- 
failing courtesy. The establishment was converted 
into a Company in 1893, Mrs Poole retaining the 
position of managing director, though not without 
considerable opposition on the part of Mr Hugh 
Jay Didcott, one of the original promoters. 

During Mr Poole's management, a number of 
brilliantly successful ballets and spectacular pieces 
were produced here, not excepting some beauti- 
ful and artistically mounted Tableaux Vivants — 
Phantasy, a spectacular ballet by J. Dallas, ran for 
two hundred nights. Another popular ballet pro- 
duced here was one entitled Cyprus, in which 
James Fawn, the well-known comedian, made 
his first appearance. Other spectacular pieces 
which proved extremely popular were Scotland, 
The Leprachaim, and Sport and Bird, Miss Kate 
Seymour, the clever dancer, appearing in the last- 
named ballet. 

Mr Poole was not only a public caterer of much 
originality and astuteness, but an entrepreneur 
of keen discrimination. He was quick to detect 
artistic ability and latent talent in young artistes, 
to whom he was ever ready to extend a helping 
hand, and who received from him much fruitful 



PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 67 

encouragement and advice. Mr Walter Slaughter, 
the composer, was one of Mr Poole's favourite 
prott'ges, and while occupying the position of 
pianist here wrote his first composition, a ballet 
entitled England, which was produced on the 
27th of December 1880. Mr Barrington Foote, 
the comedian, and Miss Connie Gilchrist, the 
clever burlesque actress, appeared at the South 
London under Mr Poole's regime. It was at this 
house that Mr Hollingshead ' discovered ' Mr J. 
Dallas, the comedian, whom he at once introduced 
to Gaiety audience. 

The old programmes of this establishment are 
rich in professional associations, and there is 
scarcely an artiste of any note who has not faced 
its footlights. George Leybourne, who, by the 
way, received his appellation of ' Lion Comique ' 
from Mr Poole (who had an ingenious knack of 
bestowing cognomenal gifts of thi? description), 
sang here in the height of his popularity. Here, 
too, the great Macdermott chortled his famous 
' Scamp ' ditty, and it was at this hall that Fred 
Coyne sang to his last public audience. Nelly 
Power, VV. B. Fair, of ' Tommy, make room for 
your Uncle ' notoriety, Henri Clarke, and the late 
Charles Williams are popular names which at once 
rise to the memory in this connection. The orchestra 
of this house has been under the direction of many 
able musicians, among whom must be mentioned 
Mr Spillane, Signor Moro, Mr Opfermann, and 



68 THE VARIETY STAGE 

the present director, Mr Charles Bell. The first 
manager of the South London, under Mr Poole's 
tenancy, was a namesake but no relation of the 
proprietor, Mr Charles Poole, who was succeeded 
by Mr Fred Law, a very popular personage in his 
time among the patrons of the South London, and 
a comic singer of some ability. The managerial 
cloak next fell upon the shoulders of Mr Ryland, 
from whom it was transferred after a short while to 
Mr Will Sergeant, a gentleman well known in pro- 
fessional circles. The present manager is Mr East. 
Any sketch, however cursory, of the South London 
would be incomplete without some mention of 
' Baron ' Courtney, for many years the genial chair- 
man of this popular establishment. Courtney, with 
his raven locks, his expansive display of spotless 
shirt front and his grandiloquent manner, at once 
affable and patronising, was a typical represent- 
ative of a class which appears to be doomed to 
speedy extinction. 

The success which attended the opening of 
Weston's, in Holborn, convinced Mr Charles 
Morton that the West End presented a rich field 
for further enterprise in the same direction. 
Accordingly he began, metaphorically speaking, 
to cast his eye around in different directions for a 
suitable site whereon to erect yet another temple 
of variety, j While thus prospecting, his attention 
was directed to the old Boar and Castle Inn, which 
stood near the junction of the Tottenham Court 



PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 69 

Road and Oxford Street, and with the adapt- 
ability of which to his requirements Mr Morton 
appears to have been immediately smitten. The 
inn formed one of those old roadside taverns 
which belonged essentially to the days of stage- 
coaches and post-chaises, and which the advent 
of the steam monarch had already begun to wipe 
out of existence. It dated back to a period prior 
to the Great Fire of London, when its spacious 
yard, around which ran the picturesque gallery 
peculiar to these old inns, doubtless afforded an 
excellent opportunity for the presentment of 
the theatrical and other entertainments which 
it was usual to give in these places. Down to 
the reign of Queen Anne, the inn retained all 
the characteristics of a genuine village hostelry 
and posting-house. Stage-coach drivers, postboys 
and carriers thronged its roomy yards, while the 
traveller found refreshment and accommodation 
after his twelve hours' tedious and rather hazardous 
journey from Oxford by the lumbering stage- 
waggon. Here nightly assembled the wit and 
wisdom of the rapidly growing district, with 
perhaps a 'gentleman of Oxford,' or a Tony 
Lumpkin of the period come up from his paternal 
acres in some Buckinghamshire hamlet to 'see 
the town.' At this period the ' village ' pound of 
St Giles stood nearly opposite the Boar and Castle, 
on the south side of the Oxford Road ; and even 
at the end of the last century there might yet 



70 THE VARIETY STAGE 

be seen from the back windows of the old hostelry 
such vestiges of rural scenery as an orchard, a 
pond, and a rustic windmill. 

Mr Morton, it is perhaps unnecessary to say, 
took the first opportunity of acquiring the Boar and 
Castle, and on the ground mainly afforded by the 
old inn yard he built and opened on March 26th, 
1 861, the first Oxford music hall. The programme 
on that occasion contained the names of such pro- 
minent artistes as Mdlle. Parepa, who afterwards 
became the wife of the late Carl Rosa, Mdlle. 
Manietta, Miss Poole, Miss Russell, Miss Ernst 
and Miss Rosina Collins. In addition there were 
Messrs Santley, Swift, Genge, G. Kelly, C. Greville, 
Levy Hime and Jonghmann. Mr Sims Reeves, too, 
was offered his own terms to come and sing on that 
occasion, but although at first the celebrated tenor 
appeared to entertain Mr Morton's liberal proposal, 
he subsequently thought fit to decline it, express- 
ing, however, at the same time, the greatest interest 
in the undertaking. 

The first Oxford hall, in point of architectural 
beauty, was one of the finest then existing. It was 
a handsome structure, forty-one feet high, with a 
total length of ninety-four feet. One of its chief fea- 
tures was the system of lighting employed, which 
consisted of twenty eight brilliant * crystal ' stars, 
a novelty thought very charming and effective in its 
day, but which was shortly afterwards superseded 
by four large chandeliers suspended from the roof, 



PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 71 

with smaller ones in the galleries. To the 
Oxford belongs the unenviable distinction of being 
the first London music hall to be destroyed by 
fire. Early in the morning of the nth of Feb- 
ruary 1868, the night-watchman discovered that 
a fire had broken out in a corner of the gallery on 
the Oxford Street side. The fire was confined 
to the hall itself, and although some damage was 
sustained by their contents, the several promenade 
bars, supper-room, entrance hall, and even the 
private boxes in the gallery were not substantially 
injured ; but the fine plate glass mirror fixed at 
the back of the stage, and which was a feature 
in the building, was totally destroyed. The hall 
was reconstructed and again opened to the public 
on the 9th August 1869. The new proprietors, 
Messrs Syers & Taylor, entrusted the musical 
direction to Mr J. H. Jennings, whose period of 
service in this capacity, as well as the more general 
one of acting manager, and subsequently that 
of proprietor also, continued for over twenty 
years. But the enterprise of the new manage- 
ment was not destined to proceed unchecked, 
for early in the morning of November 1st, 1872, 
the roof of the hall was found to be on fire, 
with so disastrous a result that little more than 
bare walls and charred benches were left. On 
the 17th of March 1873, however, a new and en- 
larged Oxford was erected. Considerable addi- 
tional space was then provided for promen- 



72 THE VARIETY STAGE 

aders, while the stage and proscenium were com- 
pletely remodelled and enlarged, and the orchestra 
placed on a level some feet below that of the floor. 
Mr J. H. Jennings disposed of his interest in the 
hall to Mr James Kirk on the 28th of October 
1 891, the purchase money being ;^27,ioo. The 
hall continued under the proprietorship of the 
last-mentioned gentleman for a little over twelve 
months, when it passed into the hands of a Limited 
Company, which was formed by a syndicate of 
gentlemen connected with the Tivoli and London 
Pavilion. It was now felt tliat the old order had 
definitely developed into the new, and that the 
time had come for a fresh departure on the lines 
of the strictly modern variety theatre. The old 
hall was therefore at once demolished, and the 
present handsome and luxurious structure erected 
in its stead. The foundation-stone of the latter 
wus laid by Mr Charles Morton on the 15th 
August 1892, and on the 31st of the following 
January the new Oxford again opened its doors 
to the public. Up to quite recently, the manage- 
ment of the present hall was in the hands of Mr 
C. R. Brighten, who was unfortunately compelled 
to resign on account of ill-health, when, by one 
of those curious turns which distinguish the fickle 
dispensations of Dame Fortune, Mr J. H. Jennings 
resumed his old position as manager, but not for 
long, however, being soon afterwards succeeded by 
Mr Harry Lundy, who at present directs its fortunes. 



PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 73 

The same year which saw the establishment of 
the old Oxford, saw also the erection of the 
Bedford, Deacon's, the Oriental and the London 
Pavilion. 

Thk Bedford, a little hall still existing, and 
situated in Grove Street, High Street, Camden 
Town, retains to the present day many of the 
features peculiar to the halls of a generation ago. 
It was built by Mr R. C. Thornton, and opened 
by him in September 1861, with Mr T. Wilson 
as director and conductor. Subsequently the estab- 
lishment passed into the hands, first of Mr Alfred 
Trotman, then of Mr Walter Gooch, and later 
Mr and Mrs George Fredericks. Mr Harry Hart, 
the present proprietor, whose name has been closely 
identified with the music-hall world for many years, 
succeeded Mr Thornton, and after disposing of the 
property to successive lessees, again became sole 
proprietor. Under his management the hall has 
long maintained its popularity with the amuse- 
ment-seeking public. 

On December 14th, 1861 (the day on which the 
Prince Consort died), Clerkenwell, which hitherto 
had had to depend for variety entertainment on 
that provided at the Philharmonic in the neigh- 
bouring village of 'merrie' Islington, became 
possessed of a music hall of its own in Mr J. 
Deacon's establishment, which stood close to 
Sadler's Wells Theatre. 

This hall was not altered until about eleven 



74 THE VARIETY STAGE 

years ago, when it was closed for three months. 
It was at Deacon's that Mr Harry Randall made 
his first appearance at a recognised music hall, 
though he had sung at many small places before. 
Mr J. King was manager of Deacon's at that time, 
and gave Randall his engagement, when he sang 
with much success a song that dealt of a man 
returning from market slightly inebriated, and 
wondering in verse as to what his wife would say 
to him on his arrival home. Randall, who was 
not only a singer of comic songs but a true comic 
singer, soon after this obtained engagements at 
the larger halls. 

It was at this hall that many years earlier in 
his professional career Mr Arthur Roberts — a 
lawyer's clerk by day, a comic vocalist by night — 
fulfilled one of his earliest engagements, singing 
several songs nightly for a small weekly salary. 
On the same day that Arthur Roberts went down 
to show the management his ' form,' he was accom- 
panied by a brother artiste who came on similar 
errand. This was Fred Williams, the clever 
comedian and sketch artiste, who was the first to 
introduce burlesque performances to the variety 
stage. Mr Williams was offered the post of chair- 
man, which he accepted at a slightly higher 
stipend than that of his friend Arthur Roberts, 
and for the space of four years he continued to 
wield the ivory hammer pertaining to his office. 

Captain Davis took over the hall from Mr Deacon 



PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 75 

who died, at the age of sixty-eight, on July 12th, 
1 87 1, and it continued under the proprietorship 
of this popular gentleman until a few years back, 
when it was purchased by the London County 
Council, who required the site for street improve- 
ments. 

In this year, i.e., 1861, a new music hall, called 
the Oriental, was opened in Poplar by Mr William 
Davis, formerly of the Apollo Saloon, who sold 
it to Mr Grimes, during whose proprietorship Mr 
George Ware was very popular with audiences 
here in his triple voice entertainment, in which he 
sang alto, bass and tenor. The Oriental after- 
wards passed into the hands of Mr Morris 
Abrahams, who, on the 21st of October 1867, 
converted it into a theatre. 

Before the year was over, the list of Metro- 
politan halls received yet another addition, and 
both Weston's and the Oxford a formidable rival. 
This was the old London Pavilion, in Tichborne 
Street, Haymarket, which Messrs Loibl & Son- 
hammer, the proprietors, first ran as a sort of 
cafe cJiantatit. Previous to their occupation, the 
premises had been used by Dr Karne for the 
purposes of a waxwork exhibition, and after- 
wards it had had a brief existence as a skating- 
rink. At this time the place was in reality a 
stable yard roofed in. In 1877, Mr Sonhammer 
dissolved partnership with Mr Loibl, and opened 
Scott's Restaurant in Coventry Street, close by. 



76 THE VARIETY STAGE 

The hall was altered from time to time, and boxes 
put in on one side, but the original roof remained 
down to some ten years ago, when the whole 
house was rebuilt. The old Pavilion held about 
3000 people, the prices of admission being 2s. 6d., 
IS,, and 6d. The company at that time included 
Herbert Campbell, Arthur Roberts, the Great 
Vance, James Fawn, the Brothers Bohee, PVed 
Coyne, Fred Albert, Nellie Moon, Bessie Bell- 
wood and Harriet Vernon. The Pavilion's first 
chairman was Mr Russell Grover, who was suc- 
ceeded by Mr Harry Cavendish, himself an excel- 
lent singer, than whom few could render the 
' Village Blacksmith ' with more telling effect. 
On Mr Cavendish's death, Mr Harry Vernon 
topped the chairman's table, a position which he 
occupied until the abolition of his office, which 
came about within twelve months after the re- 
opening. 

Early in 1878 the Metropolitan Board of Works 
acquired the place for street improvements, and 
paid Mr Loibl as much as iJ^ 109,347 ^o^ the 
property. Shortly afterwards Mr Edwin Villiers 
secured a lease from the Board of Works for three 
years, subsequently extended to five, and then 
again to seven, at a rental of ^JOQO per annum. 
Mr Villiers made numerous alterations from time 
to time, and finally, in 1884, the old premises were 
pulled down, and the present house erected. This 
work of demolition and reconstruction was exe- 



PROGRESS OF THE HALLS 77 

cuted within the marvellously short space of eight 
months, the old house being closed on the 25th of 
March 1885, and the new establishment started on 
the 3Cth of November in the same year. Shortly 
after the opening of the present classic hall, Mr 
Villiers disposed of the property to a Limited Com- 
pany, by whom its destiny has since been controlled 
with very gratifying results. This ha#been mainly 
due to the astuteness and business acumen of Mr 
Newson-Smith, one of the directors of the Com- 
pany. Since the opening of the new Pavilion, Mr 
Edward Swanborough has been acting manger, 
and is at present general manager. His courtesy 
and tact are well known to patrons of the estab- 
lishment. As previously mentioned, Mr Adolphe 
Tressidder is the stage manager, and Mr Ernest 
Miles, who came over from the Canterbury with Mr 
Villiers, was for some time the assistant manager, 
a post now held by Mr Glennister, while Mr W. 
Taylor is the present musical director, and Mr 
George Richter has a responsible position as re- 
freshment manager. 



CHAPTER VI 

PROGRESS OF THE MUSIC HALL — continued 

A Boom in * Varieties ' — The Alhambra — Its Metamorphoses — 
The Old Panopticon — Its Rivals — An Ambitious Charter — 
Features of the Institution — E. T. Smith — A Palace of 
Varieties — Howes and Cushing — Sawdust and Horses — W. 
Wilde — Further Transformations — Loisset, the Ringmaster 
— Leotard — Frederick Strange — Ballets and Spectacles — 
The Farinis — The Kiralfy Brothers — Foucart, the Gymnast 
— !NL Riviere — John Hollingshead — The Lansdown Music 
Hall — Sam Collins — Harry Sydney — H. Watts — Herbert 
Sprake — The White Lion — Turnham's — The Metropolitan 
— Mr Meacock — E. Winder — Mr Speedy — Mr Lake — 
Henri Gros — The Oxford and Cambridge — The Royal, 
Kensington — The Hoxton — The Regent — Russell Grover 
and Frank Hall — The Standard — R. A. Brown — Mr Wake 
— The Eastern Alhambra — The Borough — The Raglan — 
The Cosmotheca — The Eastern Hall — The South-Eastern 
— The Pantheon — Lamb — The Swallow Street Music 
Hall — The Eldorado and Criterion — The Strand Musick 
Hall — Its Lofty Pretensions and Dismal Failure — 'Jolly' 
Nash and the ' Great ' Vance — The Royal Cambridge — 
'Gatti's in the Road' — St Leonard's Hall — Davey's — 
Scott's — End of the Boom. 

The number of music halls which by the end 
of 1862 had arisen with mushroom-like rapidity in 
all parts of the town by no means satisfied the 
growing demand for places of entertainment of this 
description. The music hall had sprung at one 
bound into popular favour,- and although theatrical 

78 



PROGRESS OF THE MUSIC HALL 79 

proprietors and a certain section of the Press 
looked askance at the new institution, the public 
accorded it a support which was both genuine and 
unstinted. Thus encouraged, proprietors and 
would-be proprietors looked eagerly around for 
fresh opportunities, and every month brought 
forth intelligence of some new enterprise, either 
contemplated or attempted. 

Of these new undertakings, the Alhambra, as 
the largest and most pretentious, is entitled to pre- 
cedence. Throughout the thirty odd years that it 
has been in existence, this palatial building has 
had a career which has been both varied and 
chequered. Alternately, it has been an educa- 
tional institution, a circus, a music hall, a regular 
theatre, and anon a palace of varieties. It made 
its bow to the public — if we may be permitted the 
metaphor — as the Panopticon, and belonged to 
that class of institution which endeavours to com- 
bine instruction with amusement, and which, as 
a rule, winds up by conveying neither. The old 
Polj'technic and its weaker rival, the old Adelaide 
Galler>-, were both fair specimens of the kind of 
institution referred to, and upon the lines of these 
establishments, though on a bolder and more am- 
bitious scale, the Panopticon proposed to follow. 
The building, which was a magnificent structure in 
the resplendent style of architecture peculiar to 
the Moors, was opened in 1854 by a committee 
whose undertaking was ratified and ennobled by 



8o THE VARIETY STAGE 

nothing less imposing than a Royal Charter, 
granted by Her Majesty on the 2ist of February 
1850. This charter authorised the promoters to 
' exhibit and illustrate in a popular form discoveries 
in science and art ; to extend the knowledge of 
useful and ingenious inventions ; to promote and 
illustrate the application of science to the useful 
arts ; to instruct by courses of lectures, to be de- 
monstrated and illustrated by instruments, appar- 
atus and other appliances, all branches of science, 
literature, and the fine and useful arts ; to exhibit 
various branches of the fine and mechanical arts, 
manufactures and handicrafts, by showing the 
progress to completion in the hands of the artisan 
and mechanic ; to exhibit the productions of nature 
and art, both British and foreign ; to illustrate 
history, science, literature and the fine and useful 
arts, by pictorial views and representations ; to 
illustrate the science of acoustics by lectures, music 
and otherwise ; to give instructions in the various 
branches of science and the mechanical arts ; to 
afford to inventors and others facilities to test 
the value of their ideas by means of the machinery, 
instruments and other appurtenances of the in- 
stitution, and generally to extend and facilitate a 
greater knowledge and love of the arts and sciences 
on the part of the public ; ' and it was submitted 
'that the establishment and maintenance of such 
institution would greatly tend to the diffusion of 
useful knowledge and the improvement of the arts, 



PROGRESS OF THE MUSIC HALL Si 

and more especially would, by combining instruc- 
tion with amusement, supply a source of recreation 
to all classes of the community calculated to ele- 
vate their social, moral and intellectual condition.' 

Among the chief attractions of the Panopticon 
were an Artesian well, and the peculiar and pretty 
device known as a fairy fountain, which sent up 
coloured sprays from the floor to the dome of 
the building. In addition, there were electrical 
machines, working models, a diving-bell, and a 
huge organ. Despite these manifold att.racttorrs, 
however, the" Panopticon was doomed to a brief 
y^nd not particularly happy career, and eventually 
' had to close its doors in the face of an unsym- 
pathising public, which elected to take its amuse- 
ment pure and unalloyed. 

Th£ Panopticon wassoon after put up to auction 
when, together with its apparatus and other para- 
phernalia, it was purchased for a comparatively 
trifling sum by the late E. T. Smith, a gentleman 
whose name was associated with a number of thea- 
trical and similar enterprises. Mr Smith speedily 
disposed of his remarkable collection of scientific 
marvels and machinery which were sold to various 
purchasers, the grand organ being acquired for St 
Paul's Cathedral, but afterwards removed to Clifton. 
Having thus cleared the body of the hall of all 
unnecessary impedimenta, the new proprietor 
erected a spacious stage, leaving the rest of the 
building undisturbed in all the grandeur and 

F 



82 THE VARIETY STAGE 

colour of Moorish garniture. Having subse- 
quently obtained the all essential licence, Mr E. 
T. Smith opened the place under the name of the 
Alhambra as a theatre of varieties. It was in 
every respect the most ambitious and imposing of 
its kind which had so far been attempted, but its 
first essay as a music hall was apparently unsuc- 
cessful. The premises next fell into the hands of 
Messrs Howes & Gushing, who converted it for a 
space into a circus, but subsequently transferred 
the ownership to the late Mr William Wilde, 
a gentleman hailing from Norwich. Mr Wilde 
managed the place with varying success, at first 
on lines similar to those adopted by Mr E. T. 
Smith, and afterwards as a circus, under the direc- 
tion of M. Loisset, a Belgian ringmaster. The 
Alhambra was then again transformed into a 
palace of varieties, and during this stage of its 
existence Mr Wilde introduced to London 
audiences, Leotard, the famous gymnast. This 
graceful and daring performer remained in Eng- 
land for a few years, attracting large audiences 
to the Alhambra, and calling into existence 
at rival shows a whole army of acrobats, wire- 
walkers and trapezists. On his second visit to 
the Alhambra, which occurred in 1866, during 
Mr Hollingshead's management, Leotard was 
paid, and doubtless earned, as much as ;^i8o a 
week ! He died at Toulouse^ of consumption, at 
the early age of thirty. 



PROGRESS OF THE MUSIC HALL %i 

Mr Wilde's successor was Mr Frederick Strange, 
who had acquired a large fortune and much 
practical experience as a refreshment caterer 
in connection with the Crystal Palace. He 
pursued the policy adopted by his predecessor 
with even greater liberality, and signalised his 
proprietorship by the introduction of ballets in 
addition to the usual form of music-hall enter- 
tainment. In 1866, Mr Strange disposed of his 
interest in the Alhambra to the Limited Liability 
Company, who are the present proprietors. The 
existing board of directors include Mr Nagle, Mr 
Bathe, Mr Charles Coote and General Wortham. 
Mr Henry Sutton was for many years chairman of 
the Board of Directors, but recently resigned the 
position owing to ill-health. During his long 
association with the Alhambra, he devoted a great 
deal of time and energy to the furtherance of the 
interests of the shareholders. 

With the fortunes of the Alhambra have been 
associated an entire host of professional worthies, 
whose name is simply legion. Among those which 
one most readily calls to mind may be mentioned the 
two Farinis, father and son, the Kiralfys, Imre and 
Bolossy, of Olympia fame. Then there were the 
Foucarts, gymnasts ; Leotard, and, to come to more 
recent ' draws,' the Georgia Magnet, each attraction 
in their day being the rage of London. M. Riviere, 
Mr John Hollingshead, Mons Jacobi, Mr W. Bailey, 
who was its manager for a while, Mr Moul, Mr 



84 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Douglas Cox and Mr Forde are other names 
intimately associated with this home of ballets and 
glittering spectacles. 

In the early part of 1862 Islington became pos- 
sessed of another music hall. This was the 
Lansdowne, opened in connection with the Lans- 
downe Arms by its then proprietor, Mr Mont- 
gomery. The latter, however, appears to have 
lacked the qualities essential to success as a variety 
caterer, and speedily parted with his interest in 
the concern to Mr Sam Collins, who, despite his 
experience with the Marylebone, was eager to 
embark on a fresh venture. The Lansdowne 
accordingly passed into the hands of this popular 
Irish vocalist, and was opened by him on Sep- 
tember 20th, 1862. Owing, however, to some little 
misunderstanding with the licensing authorities 
in the following October, Mr Collins was unable 
to obtain the necessary licence for music and 
dancing before the next session, and the house 
remained closed until the 4th of November 1863, 
when it was opened with eclat, as newspaper re- 
porters say. The old hall had been re-decorated and 
enlarged, and was now capable of seating from 800 to 
1000 persons. The direction was placed in the hands 
of Mr James M'Donald, but the bright particular 
star of the establishment was the genial proprietor 
himself, after whom the hall had been very aptly re- 
named. On the death of Sam Collins — whose real 
name, by-the-way, was Samuel Vagg — which took 



PROGRESS OF THE MUSIC HALL 85 

place on the 25th May 1865, when this popular artiste 
was in his thirty-ninth year, the house was conducted 
for some time by his widow, with the assistance, as 
manager, of Mr Harry Sydney, a song writer and 
composer of conspicuous ability, and a rare 
favourite at this hall. Mr H. Watts succeeded Mrs 
Collins in the proprietorship, and the establish- 
ment afterwards came into the possession of Mr 
Herbert Sprake, the present proprietor, who, it may 
be mentioned, is a nephew of the great Samuel. 
In the person of ' Jack ' Read, the cheery old 
chairman of this popular hall, Collins's is still linked 
with the past, while in shrewd and courteous Mr 
Nilen, the present assistant manager (who suc- 
ceeded Mr. E. S. Barnes in that office when the 
latter went to manage the New London Music 
Hall in Shoreditch), the new school is ably repre- 
sented. 

The ' White Lion ' in the Edgware Road, which 
was one of the old concert-rooms, became, on the 
8th of December 1862, transmogrified into a full- 
blown music hall, capable of accommodating 4000 
persons. The place was named after its proprietor, 
Mr John Turnham, and was a really handsome hall. 
The vicinity of the Edgware Road Station, on the 
Metropolitan line, which had just been opened, 
rendered it easy of access from the City and West 
End, although the hall did not want by any means 
for local support. Turnham's, however, soon 
became converted into one of the numerous 



86 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Limited Liability Companies, which the Act of 
1862 had begun to call into existence. Under the 
management of this Company, which had a 
capital of ^30,000, with power to increase, it 
opened its doors as the METROPOLITAN MUSIC 
Hall on Easter Monday, 1864, but not coming up 
to the expectation of its new proprietors, it was sold 
to a Mr James Meacock, who had been one of the 
original directors. Mr Meacock, after a compara- 
tively short space, found that he had had enough 
of the business, which he disposed of to Mr 
Edward Winder, who, after successfully directing 
its fortunes for a number of years, made way for 
Mr Speedy. This gentleman was succeeded by 
Mr Lake, who had previously been proprietor of 
the Middlesex. Mr William Bailey was installed 
as manager, Mr A. E. Oliver being the treasurer, 
and Mr Harry Brett the chairman. In 1889 Mr 
Lake parted with his interest to a limited com- 
pany with a large capital, but the shareholders not 
securing very big dividends, Mr Lake bought the 
property back, and continued to ' run ' the hall 
until Mr Henri Gros purchased it in 1892. There 
is another Henri very popular at this establishment, 
and that is Mr Henri Clark, a vocalist of much 
humour and originality, who quitted the variety 
stage to take over the management of this hall. 

The year 1863 was prolific in music-hall enter- 
prise. Early in the January of that year the 
Oxford and Cambridge Music Hall, in the 



P/^OG/;!ESS OF THE MUSIC HALL S7 

Hampstcad Road, near Chalk Farm, was opened 
by Mr Johnson, and on the 7th of the following 
month the Royal Xew Music Hall was opened 
in the High Street, Kensington, with Mr Alfred 
Swales as manager, and Mr F, Upton as musical 
director. On November 2d, Mr James Mortimer 
opened a new music hall in High Street, Hoxton, 
and the 30th of the same month saw the estab- 
lishment in Regent Street, Westminster, of 
another hall under the proprietorship of Mr 
Shedlock, assisted by Mr Charles Sinclair, with 
Mr Russell Grover as director, and Mr Frank 
Hall, the popular song writer, as manager. A 
month later, namely, the 26th of December, 
Moy's became transformed into the Royal 
Standard Music Hall, under the proprietor- 
ship of Mr R. a. Brown. This is one of the 
few halls erected in that year which has had any- 
thing more than ephemeral existence. Under its 
present proprietor, Mr Richard Wake, it has been 
greatly improved and beautified, and is at present 
one of the prettiest and best patronised halls in 
London. The end of 1863 witnessed the inau- 
guration of a new hall in Shoreditch — the Eastern 
Alhambra, opened by Mr R. Fort, who in 1872 
parted with his interest to Messrs Tanner & 
Parkes. Another hall, viz., the Foresters, in 
Cambridge Road, Whitechapel, was opened on 
April 13th, 1870, by Messrs Street & Kite, 
who in January 1871 disposed of the property 



88 THE VARIETY STAGE 

to Mr Fort of the Alhambra Hall, before alluded 
to. A few months later, i.e., September 4th, 
Mr Fort re-opened the premises, which he had 
enlarged at a cost of ;£^2C)00. The present pro- 
prietor of this hall is Mr W. Lusby, who possesses 
a capable coadjutor in the person of his manager, 
Mr Wilton Friend. 

Other halls of varying degrees of importance 
which under the sunny rays of public patronage 
blossomed forth about this period, were the 
Borough, in Union Street, a development of the 
old Salmon Concert-Room, under the proprietor- 
ship of the late Mr Gear, who subsequently 
parted with his interest to Mr Hart, when soon 
after the place changed its name from the 
Alexandra to the Raglan ; the Cosmotheca, in 
Bell Street, EdgAvare Road — a music-hall venture 
of Mr J. A. Cave ; the Eastern Hall, Limehouse, 
opened by Mr James Robinson, with Mr Hany 
Carter as chairman and conductor ; and the 
South Eastern, in Tooley Street, South wark, 
opened by Mr P. Haslip. In addition, there were 
the Pantheon, in Oxford Street, under the pro- 
prietorship of Mr Lamb, and further west still, 
was the Swallow Street Music Hall, in the 
thoroughfare of that name ; the Eldorado and 
the Criterion near Leicester Square ; and the Star 
Music Hall, Neckinger Road, Bermondsey, which 
was opened by Mr Thomas Hayes. Subsequent 
proprietors of the last-named establishment have 



P/^OG/?ESS OF THE MUSIC HALL Sg 

been Mr Fred Evans, and Mr John 11 art, who is 
the present owner and manager of the hall. 

The most ambitious essay of the following year 
was the opening, on the 17th October, by another 
Limited Liability Company of the Strand Music 
Hall, which stood on the site of the old Exeter 
'Change, where Mr Cross formerly kept his famous 
menagerie. The Strand Music Hall, which, it 
is curious to note, styled itself the Strand Music/t 
Hall, in order to distinguish itself from inferior 
competitors, was at the start a very select affair 
indeed. It was proposed to supply the public 
with vocal and instrumental music of the best 
available description, and refined sentiment and 
classic art went hand in hand with the enterprise 
in spite of its purely commercial object. Alas ! 
for the hopes of the directorate, however, the 
public fought shy of the hall, which was an 
elegant little place, and charmingly upholstered 
and appointed. There was, if anything, too much 
elegance and a leetle too much refinement about 
the establishment for the average Britisher, who 
became oppressed by the luxury of his surround- 
ings, and equally depressed by the classical 
altitude of the entertainment provided. The re- 
sult was that the company had to come down 
from their pedestal, and meet the demands of 
the public, or lose both capital and dividend. 
Naturally they chose the first alternative, and 
there was a complete turn-about in the features 



96 THE VARIETY STAGE 

of the programme. The comic element, as re- 
presented by the Great Vance, Leybourne and 
other vocalists, was brought in to the rescue^ but 
despite these concessions and the efforts of Mr 
' Jolly ' Nash, who officiated as chairman besides 
contributing one of the best ' turns ' of the even- 
ing, the undertaking succumbed to a rapid decline, 
and its obsequies were conducted with the usual 
formalities in the Court of Chancery. Upon the 
site of the Strand Music Hall was afterwards 
erected the present Gaiety Theatre. 

The Royal Cambridge, opened by Mr Nugent 
on the loth of December 1864, with Mr Charles 
Greville as manager and conductor, was inau- 
gurated under a more favourable star, and has 
continued to enjoy a successful existence down 
to the present day. The property was trans- 
ferred on July 14th, 1866, to Mr G. S. Page, a 
Melbourne gentleman, from whose hands it sub- 
sequently passed to Mr William Riley, whose 
right-hand assistant is Mr E. V. Page, the 
author of many of the best music-hall songs of 
the past decade. 

In November 1865, Mr Carlo Gatti, a refresh- 
ment caterer of 214 Westminster Bridge Road, 
having obtained the needful licence, opened the 
hall which has since been associated with his 
name. This was followed in 1867 by the opening 
of St Leonard's Hall, Shoreditch, better known 
as the ' Panorama,' the proprietor of which was 



PROGRESS OF THE MUSIC ffAIJ. 91 

Mr George Harwood, who some years later pur- 
chased the Varieties, Hoxton, from Mr Verrall 
Xunn, who had built it and run it as a theatre, 
an experiment which completely failed. A few 
years ago Messrs Leach & Kirk became pro- 
prietors of this hall, which now bears the name 
of the first-mentioned gentleman. Other halls 
opened in this year were Davey's Music Hall, 
Stratford ; and Scott's Xew Music Hall, Grove 
Street, Victoria Park. 

The Magpie was the title of a music hall 
opened in Battersea about the year 1869, and 
which held 600 people. It was constructed, as 
far as architectural design was concerned, on the 
lines of the Winchester, but had neither a 
balcony nor a billiard-room as had its elder 
sister. Several years later the WASHINGTON 
Music Hall came into existence, and has con- 
tinued to succeed well under the proprietorship 
of Mr G. W. Moore, late of the Moore & 
Burgess Ministrels. The chairman here was for 
a lengthy period Mr Theodore Gordon, but in 
the autumn of 1894 he vacated the position, 
which is now held by Mr W^ill Sergeant, who 
previously had filled a similar post, first at Gatti's 
(Westminster Bridge Road), and later at the 
South London. 

The phenomenal ' boom ' in variety affairs which 
had distinguished the advent of the halls now 
began to slacken, and there commenced among 



92 THE VARIETY STAGE 

the various competitors that fierce fight for the 
survival of 'the fittest, which appears to be the 
prevailing characteristic of all mundane ventures, 
music-hall enterprises not excepted. 



CHAPTER VII 

OLD TIME FAVOURITES 

The Demand for \'ariety Artistes — Influx of Fresh Talent — 
The Old School — Sam CowcU — Birth and Parentage — 
His Theatrical Career — His Success as a Buffo Singer — 
Returns to America — His Death — The Benefit Concert at 
St James's Hall — Sims Reeves — Toole — ' A Norriblc 
Tale' — Miss Braddon's Address — Sloman — 'Bill' Wil- 
liamson — ' The Better Engagement ' — Sam Collins — His 
Humble Origin and First Start — 'Paddy's Wedding' — 
' Limerick Races ' — Story of Collins — The Newer School 
— A. B. Hollingsworth — His Blindness — A Pathetic In- 
cident — Eugene and Unsworth — Stump Orations — ]. G. 
P'orde — W. Randall — Tom Maclagan — Paddy P'annin — 
George Hodson — 'Jolly' Little Lewis — Annie Adams — 
Nelly Power— Jenny Hill— J. H. Stead— The 'Cure'— Its 
Phenomenal Success — The ' Nerves ' — The ' Great ' Vance 
— Sketch of his Career — ' The Chickaleery Bloke ' — George 
Leybourne — ' The Lion Comique ' — ' Champagne Charlie ' 
— 'The Lancashire Lass' — Fred Albert — J. H. Milburn — 
Harry Liston — Victor Liston — Walter Laburnum — Harry 
Rickards — P"red Coyne — 'Jimmy' Taylor — A Singing 
Competition — A Comic Vocalist put up to Auction — 
'Jolly' Nash and Arthur Lloyd — 'Prince and Peers for 

an Audience ' — A Remarkable Concert Party — Lord R 

and ' Rackety Jack ' — A ' Noble ' Chairman. 

One of the first effects of the rise and spread of 
the variety halls was to create a sudden and sus- 
tained demand for fresh artistes. The limited 
ranks of existing vocalists received a rich influx 

93 



94 THE VARIETY STAGE 

of new talent of every kind, quality and degree, 
and, as it seemed, at one bound a new and remark- 
able profession sprang into existence. The acro- 
bat, the trapezist and the rope-dancer had of 
course been for centuries familiar characters, but 
their sphere of operation had hitherto been con- 
fined to the village fair and the public pleasure 
garden. Now, however, their services were re- 
quisitioned for the all popular music hall, and 
their performances formed, with those of the 
juggler, the prestidigitateur and the step-dancer, 
a special feature in the programmes of those ' halls 
of dazzling light,' which, like the palace of Alad- 
din, seemed to have arisen in a single night. 
Swelling the ranks of the variety profession, too, 
came the ' character ' vocalist, with his grotesque 
make up and vermilioned proboscis, the resplen- 
dent comique, the topical patterer, and last, but 
by no means least, the serio-comic lady with such 
unsophisticated ditties as * The Captain with His 
Whiskers took a Sly Glance at Me,' * I must go out 
on Sunday,' and similar effusions from the pro- 
lific pens of the music-hall poets of the period. 
Operatic vocalism continued for some time to form 
a leading and prominent position in the nightly 
programme, but was gradually eliminated till it 
reached the vanishing point. Shorn of its former 
glory and importance, however, it has managed 
to survive down to the present day in the form 
of the classic ballad, still an attractive item in 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 95 

modern music-hall entertainments. Many of the 
older school of comic singers were well able to 
hold their own against thu new - comers, and 
quickly adapted themselves to their changed con- 
ditions. Most of these singers have already 
figured in these pages, and of such men as 
Sharpe, Ross and others little remains to be 
said. The rest belong quite as much to the 
early music hall period as to the previous con- 
cert and supper-room era, and call for some 
further mention in the former connection. 

Among the old school of singers who continued 
for a while to keep abreast of the growing com- 
petition Sam Cowell occupies a conspicuous place. 
His artistic finish, incomparable style, and effer- 
vescent humour were not easily matched. Sam 
was born in America on the 5th of April 1820. 
his father, Joseph Cowell, being an actor of some 
rank and standing. Young Cowell came to Eng- 
land at an early age, and possessing a good voice, 
turned his attention to ' singing parts ' on the 
London stage, his debut in the Metropolis being 
made at the Surrey Theatre, during a summer 
season, when an English Opera Company per- 
formed there. His first appearance was made as 
Alessio in La Sovinanibula on Jul)- 15th, 1844. 
From this engagement he went to the Olympic, 
and afterwards for some time filled original parts 
at various London theatres. He then joined Mr 
Conquest at the Ro)'al Grecian, making his 



96 THE VARIETY STAGE 

appearance there as ' Nobody ' in the extrava- 
ganza entitled Nobody in London, written by the 
late Mr Blanchard to illustrate the eventful period 
of the great Exhibition of 185 1. It was his success 
as a buffo vocalist in these pieces which drew his 
attention to the use he might make of his talents 
as a singer. About the year 1861 he went to 
America, after a highly successful provincial tour 
in this country ; but the success he obtained in 
New York was dearly purchased by his loss of 
health, which, soon after his return to England, 
became painfully manifest. The seeds of con- 
sumption sown in his frame rapidly developed, 
and, after some months of painful suffering, he 
expired at the little village of Blandford, in 
Devonshire, on March nth, 1866. A benefit was 
immediately got ready on behalf of his widow 
and children, who were left by his untimely death, 
after many financial misfortunes, in comparative 
destitution. On the committee formed for this 
purpose were J. L. Toole, Paul Bedford, G. W. 
Anson, Leigh Murray, Howard Paul, C. Morton, 
and several other well known and influential 
gentlemen. The concert took place on June 7th, 
at the St James's Hall, among the artistes 
appearing being Sims Reeves, who contributed 
to the programme the immortal ' Come into the 
Garden, Maud,' and the * Bay of Biscay,' with 
encores. Toole gave ' A Norrible Tale,' and Miss 
Braddon, the popular novelist, just then rising 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 97 

into fame, wrote some special verses, which were 
read by Mrs Alfred Mellon, and in which occur 
the lines : — 

' Many, it may be, will recall the face 
Of him whose genial voice can never more 
Be heard amongst us, save when echoing faint 
And fitful from the realms of memory.' 

Cowell's contemporary, Sloman, continued years 
after the demise of the former to amuse English 
audiences with his improvisations, his final appear- 
ance in public being at Gatti's Hall, Villiers Street. 
In his last days the poor little improvisatore fell 
upon evil times, and was compelled to apply for 
charitable relief. He died on July 21st, 1870, and 
was buried in the grounds of the Dramatic, Eques- 
trian and Musical Sick Fund Association, an in- 
stitution of which he was one of the founders, and 
also one of the first ofiRcers. 

Another artiste of the old school, very popular 
in his day, but who failed to make any lingering 
impression on his generation, was ' Bill ' Williamson 
How natural it seems to refer to these old singers 
by such familiar diminutives ! They are all 'Jack 
this,' ' Dick that,' or ' Tom ' the other, their very 
appellatives being a silent testimony to the con- 
viviality and bonJiomnierie of the times in which 
they lived and sang. 

A good story is told of Williamson in connection 
with Charles Sinclair, one time director of the 

G 



98 THE VARIETY STAGE 

old Canterbury hall, which is worth recording 
here. Williamson, it seems, had been fulfilling 
a standing engagement at this hall for something 
like three years — it was not unusual in those days 
to retain an artiste for an indefinite period — sub- 
sequent to a week's notice — but at last * Bill ' 
received his co7tge and was given formal notice 
to look out for another ' shop,' as in pro- 
fessional parlance engagements are termed. One 
evening Sloman was talking to Sinclair, and 
happened to mention en passant, ' So old Bill's 
got the sack at last ! ' 

' Yes,' exclaimed Sinclair, tapping his cheek 
with his right hand, a peculiar habit he had 
when talking, ' and I'm d — d glad he's going ! ' 

Just then, however, he chanced to turn his 
head and catch sight of Bill's form standing at 
his very elbow. With more discretion than 
valour, he thereupon promptly wound up the 
sentence with the remark — ' to fulfil a better 
engagement ! ' 

Sam Collins was another brilliant luminary of 
this period, who with his jovial face and cheery 
manner rises like a friendly ghost out of the 
darkness of the dimly-remembered past. Like 
many other men who have achieved success in 
far different walks of life, Sam arose from very 
humble beginnings, and, before blossoming into 
a professional vocalist, pursued the honest if 
somewhat smutty vocation of a chimney sweep. 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 99 

His tendency, however, always inclined towards 
the ' boards/ and possessing a good voice and a 
fund of genuine Hibernian drollery, he found 
little difficulty in making a start. He commenced 
his professional career with Mr Lamb, the pro- 
prietor of the Pantheon Music Hall in Oxford 
Street. During the period of his appearance 
here he was observed by Mr Winder, the then 
spirited proprietor of the old Mogul, now the 
Middlesex, Drury Lane. An engagement was 
offered him at this hall which he at once accepted, 
and it was here he made his first great hit, and 
established himself as a popular favourite in his 
well-known song of ' Paddy's Wedding.' His 
success at the Mogul led to a lucrative engage- 
ment at Evans's, and while at these popular 
rooms he was presented with a magnificent 
diamond ring by Sir George Wombwell, an 
officer who had distinguished himself for his 
gallantry in the Crimean war. His style of 
singing being so original was noticed by Mr 
Williams, then performing at the Adelphi, who, 
admiring Sam's quaint and humorous conception 
of character, presented him with the song in 
which he made his second great hit, ' Limerick 
Races.' His next engagements of importance 
were at the Canterbury, Weston's, Wilton's, 
etc. 

Eventually, as previously mentioned, he became 
proprietor, first of the Marylebone and afterwards 



loo THE VARIETY STAGE 

of the establishment which bears his name at 
Islington. 

Mr Wilton Friend, the present manager of 
the Foresters', who was a well known patterer at 
the time when Collins was a struggling beginner, 
recalls an interesting meeting with the former. 
Mr Friend was journeying westward one night 
with his professional equipment — artistes couldn't 
afford broughams in those days, and walked to 
their engagements with their properties tied up 
in a cotton handkerchief and slung across their 
shoulder at the end of a stout stick— when he 
encountered Collins going eastward. The pair 
saluted one another in the usual manner, and 
Sam explained that, having received permission 
to give an experimental turn at the Canterbury, 
he had * burked ' appearing that evening at the 
William the Fourth, Regent's Park, where he was 
fulfilling an engagement, and entreated Friend 
not to ' give him away ' at the last-mentioned 
place. 

Sam Collins, whose premature death has already 
been referred to, was buried in the cemetery at 
Kensal Green within a few yards from the grave 
of Flexmore. A handsome marble pedestal was 
erected at the head of the tomb, containing an 
admirably carved portraiture of the deceased 
vocalist, in addition to a cleverly cut group of 
hat and shillalah, etc., intertwined with sham- 
rock. Beneath is graven poor Sam's epitaph, 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES loi 

written by his friend Harry Sydney. It reads as 
follows : — 

' A loving husband and a faithful friend, 
Ever the first a helping hand to lend ; 
Farewell, good-natured, honest-hearted Sam, 
Until we meet before the great I Am.' 

Prominent among the newer artistes of that 
day was A. B. Hollingsworth, a comic singer of 
many excellent qualities. He first appeared at 
Wilton's Music Hall in 1853, remaining there for 
a period of five years, after which he filled various 
engagements at every music hall in the Metro- 
polis, and became extremely popular. His most 
famous song was ' The Man with the Carpet 
Bag.' In the June of 1863 the poor fellow became 
afflicted with total blindness, caused by partial 
paralysis induced by over-study and exertion. 
A number of ' benefits ' were got up for him at the 
time at the different halls at which he had ap- 
peared. It was a pathetic sight on these occasions 
to see the blind vocalist led down to the footlights 
by a little boy, and to hear him sing his old 
songs amid the scenes of his former triumphs, upon 
which, alas ! the black curtain of blindness had 
rung down for ever. Hollingsworth died very 
suddenly on the loth of October 1865, and was 
buried at Finchley. 

Two other popular entertainers of the time were 
Eugene and Unsworth, one giving some really 
clever operatic and ballad selections, and the other 



I02 THE VARIETY STAGE 

contributing a topical stump oration, a species 
of entertainment which he was the first to intro- 
duce to the London variety stage. To the same 
category belonged Mr J. G. Forde, a clever comic 
vocalist, whose son, Mr A. G. Forde, has for some 
time past occupied the responsible position of 
stage manager at the Alhambra Theatre. An- 
other popular singer of the period was J. H. 
Ogden. 

William (commonly known as ' Billy ') Randall 
and his wife used to appear as duettists until the 
Act was passed forbidding two artistes to appear 
on the music-hall stage in duologues. Randall 
then started as a ' single turn,' and met with much 
success. He is the father of Polly Randall, a 
popular serio in the last decade. The principal 
songs of William Randall were ' Jones's Sister,' 
' Simple Simon ' (written for him by Mr Harry 
Sydney), 'The Porter's Knot,' 'The Hole in the 
Shutter,' ' Two in the Morning,' ' The Charming 
Young Lady I met in the Train,' and ' Bathing.' 
Mr Randall is still alive, and appeared at Deacon's 
just before that hall closed its doors. Besides 
being a comic singer, he was also an excellent 
dancer. 

Tom Maclagan, Paddy Fannin, George Hodson, 
and 'Jolly Little Lewis,' were other favourites in 
the sixties ; while among lady vocalists must be 
mentioned Miss Annie Adams, Miss Nelly Power, 
and Miss Jenny Hill, the two last mentioned just 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 103 

then rising into popularity as child singers. But 
the artiste who made the greatest impression on 
music-hall audiences of that day was probably 
Mr J. H. Stead, whose remarkable song, the 
' Perfect Cure,' with its still more remarkable 
jumping accompaniment, created quite a furore 
at the time, and brought into the field a whole host 
of imitators. Nothing had been witnessed before 
it since the days of T. D. Rice in 'Jump, Jim 
Crow,' when the whole town was set following the 
peculiar gyrations of that mythical personage. The 
only thing like it in modern days has been the 
exuberant high-kick dance of Miss Lottie Collins in 
her wild ' Ta-ra-boom-de-ay ' refrain. The ' Cure ' 
was written by a comic vocalist named Tom Perry, 
who also wrote the ' Dramatic Maniac ' for Mr 
Cave, and was sold to another singer, whose name 
was Bowmer. It was resold to Stead, who de- 
veloped it and added the jumping business, which 
was suggested by a happy inspiration. The scene 
of Stead's first success was at the old Weston's, 
where crowds were attracted nightly to see him 
in this particular song. Stead's resources could 
not produce another ' Cure,' and he was unable 
to maintain his sudden and unique reputation. 
He died in a garret in the Dials in the direst 
poverty some few years ago. Marcus Wilkinson, 
who was a patterer of some celebrity about this 
time, was yet another artiste who died in abject 
poverty. 



I04 THE VARIETY STAGE 

The eccentric sensational dance business of 
Stead's was rivalled by the performance of Taylor 
and Bryant, two other vocalists and dancers, who 
were known as the ' Nerves.' 

Two artistes whose names stand out in bold 
prominence in the annals of the music-hall 
stage of this period, and who have won for 
themselves an enduring reputation, are the 
* Great Vance,' and George Leybourne the ' Lion 
Comique.' 

Alfred Peck Stevens, professionally known as 
Alfred Glanville Vance, was born in London in 
1840, and originally destined for the law, for 
which purpose he was placed in a solicitor's office 
in Lincoln's Inn Fields. He cherished a secret 
delight, however, in theatrical affairs, and after 
three years' experience of pounce and parchment, 
quitted the office stool, and donned the sock and 
buskin. His first professional engagement was 
with Mr Edmund Falconer at the Preston Theatre, 
where he received a salary of fifty shillings a week, 
and had to play all sorts of parts, including that of 
spangled harlequin. He then went on the North- 
ampton circuit, and after wandering about in this 
manner for some time, accepted an engagement at 
Liverpool with Mr Copeland. Later on, he opened 
a dancing academy in that town, which not proving 
particularly lucrative, he took an entertainment of 
his own round the provinces, after the manner 
of Cowell and other artistes. In this entertain- 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 105 

ment he impersonated no less than twenty 
different characters, visiting with his show nearly 
every town in the United Kingdom. He next 
came to London, where he was induced by Mr 
J. J. Poole to adopt the variety stage. Following 
Mr Poole's advice, he made his appearance at 
the Metropolitan and Philharmonic, scoring an in- 
stantaneous and lasting success. Vance was a 
clever dancer and character vocalist, and in his 
own peculiar line has never been excelled. He 
was particularly successful in Cockney ditties, and 
his ' Chickaleery Cove ' will not readily be for- 
gotten. The chorus of this ditty at one time 
might have been heard chaunted in various keys 
by various people in every part in London, and 
the small boy going home from business at even- 
tide persisted in warbling : — 

' I'm a Chickaleery bloke with my one, two, three, 
Vitechapel was the willage I was born in ; 
To catch me on the hop, or upon my tibby drop, 
You must get up werry early in the morning.' 

Vance died in active pursuit of his calling so 
recently as December 26th, 1889, on the stage of 
the Sun Music Hall at Knightsbndge. 

To George Leybourne belongs the credit of in- 
troducing quite a new feature in music-hall char- 
acters. This was the ' heavy ' swell, who spent 
his days and nights in ' seeing life,' drinking cham- 
pagne with boon companions, and dallying with 



io6 THE VARIETY STAGE 

the affections of ' lady charmers.' He was the 
idol of a very large class of music-hall patrons, by 
whom he was regarded both on the stage and 
off as a typical member of the jeunesse doree. 
Leybourne made his first appearance in London 
at Gilbert's Music Hall, in the Whitechapel Road, 
where he sang under the name of Joe Saunders. 
The ditty with which he achieved his first success 
was an amusing composition entitled ' The Dark 
Girl dressed in Blue.' Very soon after his songs, 
' Champagne Charlie,' ' Up in a Balloon,' ' She 
danced like a Fairy,' and ' The Lancashire Lass,' 
were all the rage. He died on the i8th of 
September 1884. 

Fred Albert was another star in the music-hall 
firmament of the time. He was born November 
9th, 1845, and educated at the Birkbeck, starting 
life in a City merchant's office. He sang all his 
own songs, the principal and most successful 
of which were ' I Knew that I was Dreaming,' 
' Take Care of the Pence,' and ' The Mad Butcher.' 
One of the first halls at which this artiste ap- 
peared was the Goldsmith Arms, a small place in 
Little Sutton Street, Clerkenwell, where he and 
many others used to go to practise their songs 
on a Friday night. The hall was only open on 
Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. It was here 
that the late Henry Sampson, of the Referee^ 
used to indulge in exhibitions of sparring, and 
it was the owner of this hall, Mr George Clark, 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 107 

who used with his friends to ' back ' Mr ' Pen- 
dragon ' in his running matches. In 1886 Mr 
Fred Albert appeared as a topical vocalist at 
Deacon's. It may here be remarked that there is 
no truth in the oft quoted but utterly erroneous 
report that this singer had a wooden leg. 

J. H. Milburn with ' All Among the Hay,' 
and ' On the Beach at Brighton,' Harry Liston, 
Walter Laburnum, Harry Rickards, Victor Liston, 
of ' Shabby Genteel ' renown, and Fred Coyne, 
were all names to conjure with at this period. 

Harry Liston was born in Manchester, Sep- 
tember 1843, and began life as a commercial 
traveller. His first appearance was made in July 
1863 at the Scotia, Glasgow, from which place 
he went on to Liverpool, where he remained at 
one hall for nineteen weeks. He next gave his 
popular two-hours' entertainment in Manchester 
and surrounding towns, calling it ' The Stage 
Struck Hero.' His greatest successes in songs were 
probably 'The Convict,' 'When Johnny comes 
Marching Home,' and * Nobody's Child.' His 
introduction to London audiences was made 
through the influence of Mr J. J. Poole, and on 
June 1 2th, 1865, he opened at the Metropolitan and 
Cambridge. Soon after this he was engaged for 
two months at the Alhambra. In February 1866 
he joined Arthur Lloyd's concert party, and a 
year later started a similar party of his own, with 
which he visited the provinces for eighteen months. 



io8 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Later on he again toured the country with his 
entertainment 'Merry Moments/ and was one 
of the first to start what is known as the ' One- 
horse Show.' 

At the time Leybourne was driving about the 
town in his carriage and four horses, Liston was 
appearing at the Foresters' and other halls, and 
by way of burlesque, used to go about the streets 
in a cart with four donkeys. 

Mr Victor Liston, another favourite comic 
singer, made his first appearance when seventeen 
years old at a benefit at the Old Bower Saloon, 
Stangate Street. Afterwards he sang at various of 
the smaller halls, such as Price's in the Caledonian 
Road, which was only open on Saturday nights, 
and where ' Billy Randall ' was very popular. 
Then Harry Fox, of the Middlesex, sent Liston 
to Sheffield, where he played at Parker's, where J. 
H. Riley and his wife, Marie Barnum, sister to 
Johnny Barnum, started as duettists. After a 
provincial probation, Liston returned to London 
and sang at the Grapes, the Coal Hole, the 
Cyder Cellars, the Dr Johnson, and Macdonald's 
in Hoxton, where Fred Albert made one of his 
earliest appearances. This is now used as a 
mission hall. One night Liston deputised at the 
old Philharmonic, then under the proprietorship of 
the late Mr Sam Adams, and made such a success 
with his song ' Shabby Genteel,' that he stayed 
there for seven months, a ditty which Harry Clifton 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 109 

used to sing in his ' two-hours' entertainment.' 
Victor Liston was also popular at the Metropolitan, 
Collins's, and at Evans's, where one night H.R.H. 
the Prince of Wales brought the Duke and 
Duchess of Sutherland expressly to hear ' Shabby 
Genteel.' After a five months' successful visit to 
America, Liston returned to England. Among 
his principal songs were ' The Auctioneer's 
Daughter,' ' Charming Arabella,' ' Polly Darling,' 
and ' Of Course it's no Business of Mine.' The 
last-named was written by Arthur Lloyd, the 
others by G. W. Hunt. On one occasion Liston 
was a member of Sam Hague's Minstrels. He 
was also manager of the Bon Accord Music Hall, 
at Aberdeen, and ' ran ' halls of his own at Glou- 
cester and Cheltenham, where George Leybourne 
and other stars appeared. He is still hale and 
hearty. 

Three other vocalists still connected with the 
variety stage, and as popular as ever, who, however, 
were well to the fore at the period in question, and 
therefore deserve to come under the description of 
old time favourites, are James Taylor — ' Jimmy ' 
his friends prefer to call him — ' Jolly ' John Nash, 
with his admirable laughing song, and Arthur 
Lloyd. 

The first-named distinguished himself in 1864 in 
a singing contest with Richard Blanchard, which 
took place in August of that year, at Weston's, for 
a hundred pounds. Both singers sang six songs 



no THE VARIETY STAGE 

apiece, and the match, which terminated at half- 
past eleven, resulted in favour of Taylor, who was 
declared the winner. On another occasion Taylor, 
who appears to have been possessed of no small 
degree of ingenuity and originality, put his services 
up for auction at Messrs Hutchisson & Dixon's 
establishment, Glasgow, when he was knocked 
down for ;^335 for a month to the highest bidder, 
the purchaser being the proprietor of a local 
variety hall. The affair was conducted with all 
the formality of a regular auction, and the bid- 
ding, if not exactly furious, was brisk enough to 
make things exciting. After the transaction was 
satisfactorily completed, the event was very 
appropriately celebrated with champagne and 
cigars, interspersed with comic and sentimental 
ditties. 

Mr 'Jolly' Nash and Mr Arthur Lloyd are 
among the few artistes of the variety stage who 
have had the honour of singing before the Prince 
of Wales. Mr Nash, in his interesting little book 
of reminiscences, recalls the occasion above men- 
tioned of his appearance with Mr Lloyd before his 
H.R.H., of which he gives the following graphic 
account : — 

' Accompanied by Mr W. Holland, the ' Napo- 
leonic ' caterer, we were ushered into a splendid 
apartment by powdered attendants in gorgeous 
liveries, and a rich repast was set before us. 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES iii 

After we had regaled ourselves, we were told that 
we were required in the drawing-room, and that 
we were to sing our songs in exactly the same 
way as we should do in a music hall. 

' We found ourselves in the presence of the 
Prince and about fourteen noblemen, who had 
been dining, and they were then lounging about 
the saloon, enjoying cigars, champagne cup and 
other cooling drinks. It was the quietest func- 
tion I ever assisted at, although some of the 
papers described it as something too dreadfully 
awful. Our accompanist seated himself at the 
piano, and I, with a preliminary bow to the as- 
sembly, commenced singing a popular song with 
me at that time — " The Merry Toper." This 
song gave great delight to the noble swells, after 
which Mr Lloyd appeared and sang some of his 
favourite ditties, all of which pleased our aristo- 
cratic patrons. My own contributions consisted 
of the above, also one called " Rackety Jack," " I'm 
not at all Inquisitive," and a few others. When 
I entered the room as " Rackety Jack," one of 

the company, the Duke of R , called out to 

me to take off my hat and keep it off. I had 
taken it off to make my preliminary bow, but 
had resumed it to give effect to the character I 
was presenting, and I now appealed to him in 
this way, " Mr CJiairnian " — loud laughter from 
the noble audience, who appeared mightily tickled 
at my calling the autocratic individual " Mr 



112 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Chairman," and they called him " Mr Chairman " 
for the remainder of the evening, and thought 
it great fun. 

' " Mr Chairman," said I, " am I to give this 
song as if I were in a music hall ? " 

' " Certainly, Nash," from all the other noble 
guests, "and keep your hat on, if necessary." 

' The noble chairman was a duke with a very 
serious cast of countenance, and he appeared 
perfectly horrified at my presumption. His 
comic anger seemed to afford the Prince and 
his companions great delight. Now Mr " Rackety 
Jack " commenced to sing of his jolly sort of 
life, with a refrain to each verse as fol- 
lows : — 

' " Hey ! hi ! here stop I Waiter, waiter ! Fizz, pop ! 
I'm Rackety Jack, no money I lack, 
And I'm the boy for a spree." 

'When I came to the refrain, I addressed the 
solemn-looking nobleman, — " Now then, Mr Chair- 
man, chorus altogether." This was received with 
roars of laughter by the nobles, who joined in 
the chorus con spirito, and the room resounded 
with — 

' " Hey ! hi ! here stop ! Waiter, waiter ! Fizz, pop ! 
I'm Rackety Jack," etc. 

'We continued,' adds Mr Nash, 'to sing alter- 



OLD TIME FAVOURITES 113 

nately — Arthur Lloyd and myself — until about 
four in the morning, and left with an assurance 
that we had much pleased his Lordship and his 
princely guest' 



n 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 

The Agents' Quarter — Meetings at the Coburg — Harry Fox — 
Ambrose Maynard — How He became Agent — The Turn 
of the Tide — One Use of an Agent — Charles Roberts — 
His Career as an Agent — Artistes He introduced to London 
— Leotard — Continental Troupes — George Leybourne — 
£i to ;^I20 a week — 'Five Per Cent. Villa' — Agencies 
in the Early Sixties— George Fisher — British and Foreign 
Dramatic, Musical and Equestrian Agency — Parravicini — 
Anson — Frank Hall — Maurice de Frece — First Provincial 
Agent — His Life — Performers He ' discovered ' — Jenny 
Hill — Bessie Bellwood — ' The Guileless Daughter of Erin ' 
— ' Too Quiet by Far ' — A ' Show ' in a Police Court — 
George Ware — Hugh Jay Didcott — A Comic Singer — Did- 
cott and Chevalier — Ben Nathan — Richard Warner — Kopt 
& Company — Warner and Farini — Agents of the Present 
Day — Their Commencement — Lofthouse — De Vere — 
Sinclair — Higham — Shaw — Nathan and Somers — Brush - 
field — The Uses of an Agent — ' A Necessary Evil ' — 
Opposition from Artistes — Anti-Agency Associations — All 
short-lived — What Agents have done for the Profession — 
A Prophecy. 

Just as the students of Paris have their guar tier, 
so have music - hall agents their own particular 
locality. It commences immediately one crosses 
Waterloo Bridge, and continues in a straight line 
until the corner where the four roads meet, and 
there it diverges along, in one direction, the York 

114 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 115 

Road, and, in the other, Stamford Street. But of 
late years a fashion has prevailed among agents 
to cross to the Middlesex side, and now Henrietta 
Street and Wellington Street are becoming quite 
a favourite neighbourhood for offices of the variety 
middlemen. 

The birth of the music-hall agency was just 
forty years ago, but for a considerable time pro- 
prietors refused to listen to the voice of the 
charmer, charmed he ever so eloquently ; but it 
was only a matter of time before the advantages 
of the agent were discovered, and the reign began 
which has so vastly succeeded that the number of 
agencies to-day must be reckoned by the score. 

The establishing of the first agency arose in 
rather a peculiar fashion. A number of music- 
hall managers, in the earlier years of the fifties, 
used to hold informal meetings on a Sunday even- 
ing at the old Coburg Tavern, near to the theatre 
of that name. One of the most prominent members 
of this little coterie was Mr Harry Fox, the 
manager of the Mogul. Now it sometimes hap- 
pened that performers who were working in the 
country were in the habit of writing to this gentle- 
man, and inquiring if he knew of any engagements 
open for them. Mr Fox used to mention their 
names to his brother managers on a Sunday 
• night, and he frequently procured ' dates ' for 
the artistes. The bright thought happened just 
at this time to strike Mr Ambrose Maynard, a 



ii6 THE VARIETY STAGE 

comic singer, of starting a register of artistes 
which he could submit to managers. To be 
enrolled on this list of 'talent,' the originator of 
the scheme made a charge of one shilling. He 
received the silver coins of the realm in abund- 
ance, but for a lengthened period the managers 
refused to recognise either Mr Maynard or his 
register. But, whatever else may be said of that 
gentleman, no one can deny his patience and 
perseverance, which eventually conquered the 
hearts of the managers. He seized hold of his 
first opportunity, and made good use of it. A 
certain proprietor being in a dilemma, owing to 
an artiste not being able to perform, Mr Maynard 
rushed into the breach, and sent him Miss Julia 
Weston, a serio, who proved very successful. This 
stroke of good fortune turned the scale, and after 
a while the business of this music-hall agent be- 
came so extensive that, in 1858, he took offices 
at 20 Waterloo Road, afterwards removing to 
No. 6 York Road, where he continued to practise 
his calling up to the time of his death, which 
occurred on October 3d, 1889, at the age of sixty- 
six. Two gentlemen, who subsequently became 
agents themselves, were employed in Mr Maynard's 
office as clerks. Mr Edward Colley was one, and 
Mr Fred Gilbert the other. 

The system principally adopted by Mr Maynard 
in dealing with his clients was one that has ever 
since been more or less in vogue with a section of 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 117 

music-hall agents. It is colloquially termed ' farm- 
ing,' by which phrase is meant the engaging of an 
artiste by an agent for a given length of time, 
one, two, or three years, at a fixed salary for the 
entire period, whether the former be in work or 
not, the agent making contracts with managers 
at a larger salary and putting the difference into 
his own pocket. Mr Maynard, however, did more 
than this. He entered into contracts with various 
proprietors to provide their entire company each 
week for a definite /nlr^-^, an arrangement which, 
while it lessened the trials and tribulations of the 
management, enriched considerably the coffers of 
the astute agent. It is said that it was by these 
means that Mr Maynard secured so much of the 
gold of this world as to leave behind him no less a 
sum than ;^i 5,000. And in connection with this 
matter it should be borne in mind that five per cent, 
commission on engagements procured was the 
utmost charged in those days, and that the salaries 
were very meagre when taken into consideration 
with those of the present time. 

There is a little story told — and a true one, no 
doubt — by Mr Wilton Friend, of a client of Mr 
Maynard and his views as to the uses of an agent. 
Bearing in mind the attacks that in the intervening 
years have been so repeatedly hurled at the system 
of music-hall agency, the tale, as well as being 
amusing, points a certain moral. One of the per- 
formers on the agent's books was a juggler who at 



Ii8 THE VARIETY STAGE 

that time was a * star.' On some friend remon- 
strating with him for supporting the unpopular 
principle of agency, the man of the quick eye 
replied, — ' D'yer see, cully, I cawn't write myself 
A laconic observation, but one that had a deal of 
meaning in it. 

The next to commence in the agency line, and 
we believe one of the oldest living agents still 
carrying on the business, was Mr Charles Adolphus 
Roberts. This gentleman was born on May I2th, 
1839, at Gondrin Gey, in the south of France. He 
came over to England as representative for a 
foreign house at the Exhibition of 1862, but before 
this he had secured for a troupe of acrobats an 
engagement at the Alhambra. He commenced 
business in a small way at 9 Old Compton Street, 
and while there was sent for by the management 
of the Alhambra as knowing the French language. 
He engaged Leotard for that house, who opened 
at a salary of 100 guineas a week, which was 
later on increased. After a while Mr Roberts 
thought of returning to his native land, but was 
induced, on the representation of Mr Michael 
Abrahams, who was the manager of the Apollo 
Music Hall, now the Queen's Theatre of Varieties, 
at Poplar, to continue as an agent, being promised 
the support of a number of prominent managers. 
Besides Leotard Mr Roberts brought Julien, the 
trapezist, to the Alhambra, and secured engage- 
ments for Arthur and Bartraud at the Alhambra, 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 119 

Strand Music Hall, Lyceum and Britannia Hoxton, 
besides doing business for a number of other 
artistes, chiefly troupes, such as the Chantrill 
Family, the Elliott Family, the Etoile Family and 
others. His next move was to start offices at 
Bl/th Terrace, Westminster Bridge Road, which 
he opened in 1863, but in '65, finding that No. 
5 York Road was to let, he took rooms there. 
This was exactly opposite the premises occupied 
by Mr Maynard, and some proprietors, fearing 
lest that important personage might descry them 
entering the abode of his rival, used to come to 
talk business with Mr Roberts through a back 
entrance. In 1887, Mr Charles Roberts left York 
Road owing to domestic reasons, and went to 
Spain. Returning through Paris the agent saw 
a troupe of performing wolves at the Folies 
Bergeres, and brought them over to this country, 
where they appeared for eight months at the 
Royal Aquarium. Since that time Mr Roberts has 
continued in the same line, occasionally travelling 
over to France and other parts of the Continent 
in search of novelties. Both Mr Edward Colley 
and Mr Fred Gilbert were clerks with Mr 
Roberts before they went over to Mr Maynard. 
Mr Colley, by the way, was a relative of Mr 
Roberts' wife. 

During his career of thirty - four years Mr 
Roberts has been the means of introducing to 
London audiences many of their greatest favour- 



I20 THE VARIETY STAGE 

ites. Once, when on a provincial tour, he saw 
Mr George Leybourne, who was appearing at the 
London Music Hall in Manchester, then owned 
by a Mr Harwood. Leybourne was singing at 
the time a song, ' Chisel, Chisel,' in which he intro- 
duced a mechanical donkey. Perceiving Ley- 
bourne's talent, Roberts asked if he had anywhere 
to go to the next week. ' No,' the ' Lion Comique' 
replied. The agent at once secured an engagement 
for the comedian the following week at the Prince of 
Wales's, Wolverhampton, for six nights, at a salary 
of ;^2, los. Then he brought Leybourne to London, 
when the latter opened at the London Pavilion, 
Sun Music Hall, Knightsbridge, and Strand Music 
Hall, then managed by Mr Syers. At these halls 
he was only engaged for a week at ;i^4 a ' turn.' 
Eventually Roberts secured for his client no less 
than ;^I20 a week. Another performer of note in 
the present time whom Roberts worked for was 
Herbert Campbell, who, at one period of his 
career, was a member of the negro troupe of 
Harman and Elston. Nelly Power started at the 
magnificent salary of 25s. a week at the Regent 
Music Hall, in Westminster, when she sang a 
ditty — ' I'm the Jockey, I'm the Jockey.' Roberts 
was her agent, and booked her at all the large 
halls of that day. Fred Albert and Lottie Cherry, 
duettist's, were on his books, and the former also 
when he appeared as a single ' turn.' The Brothers 
Griffiths were at one time members of the Matthews' 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 121 

Troupe, and this successful agent gave them their 
present name, and procured for them engagements 
on the Continent. Another of his clients was Mr 
H. J. Didcott, who was at that time a comic singer, 
and others on Roberts's register were Nelly Moon, 
with her famous song * The Boy in Yellow ; ' Mab 
Chambers, the laughing songtress (a female ' Jolly ' 
John Nash) ; Clarence Holt ; Will Riley, with his 
celebrated ' Scamp ' song ; Walter Laburnum ; 
James Hillier ; Epinosa, now the ballet-master at 
the Alhambra ; Bessie Bonehill, whose first panto- 
mime was at the Queen's, Poplar ; the Brothers 
Leopold ; the Boisset Troupe, who came over from 
the Continent twenty-three years ago, and were 
then known as La Famille Boisset ; Trewey ; E. H. 
Davis, the ventriloquist ; Frank Mordaunt, jester, 
with his talking hand ; Henri Clark and William 
Bailey. Truly a goodly list ! 

Before we part from the interesting career of 
this agent, who has in his life seen so many of his 
former clients ascend to the height of popularity, 
and watched young beginners from their start 
in the business until they have become stars of 
eminence earning enormous salaries, there are one 
or two items worthy of mention. In the early 
sixties, five per cent, commission was Mr Robert's 
charge to artistes, and when they drew large 
salaries he was content with £\ a week. A modest 
increment surely for hard and trying work ! 

That the anient was fond of the business is 



122 THE VARIETY STAGE 

evident from the fact of his having called his 
residence at Kew ' Five Per Cent Villa ! * He 
started both the Yokes Family, the father of 
whom was a costumier, and the Livermore Court 
Minstrels. Both these troupes first appeared at 
Springthorpe's Music Hall, at Hull, a house that 
was only open between the hours of eight and ten 
each evening. Mr Thiodon, late of the Paragon 
and now of the Grand, Gravesend, was the 
manager of this hall at that time. In 1 871, the 
directors of the Crystal Palace sent Mr Roberts 
over to Honfleur to engage an Italian Circus at 
a salary of ;!^ 100 a day. The circus folk wanted 
a 100 guineas ; it was granted. They then wanted 
half fares over. This also was conceded. Then 
they asked for their full fare both ways, which, 
however, was not granted. When Mr Trotman 
had the Bedford, Mr Roberts used to engage all 
the artistes for this hall ; amongst others who 
appeared there being Carrie Julian and George 
Fredericks, Will Parker and his soldier dog, 
Miss Bertie Stokes and Annie Dunbar, Kate 
Everleigh, the Sisters Leamar, and the Sisters 
Lindon. He was agent for the Astecs, who 
appeared at the old Savile House, in Leicester 
Square, and provided the opening company when 
Mr Nugent started at the Cambridge. Among 
the company may be mentioned Miss Annie 
Adams, Mile. Victoria, Harman and Elston, and 
George Leybourne. 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 123 

But there are many other agents we must 
proceed to mention. In the year 1861, quite 
a number of music-hall agencies were in exist- 
ence, manj^ of them being in a flourishing 
condition. There was Mr George Fisher, who 
had the British and Foreign Dramatic Musical 
and Equestrian Agency at 27 Bow Street, Covent 
Garden, which he continued until his death on 
the 31st August 1S65. There were Messrs 
George Webb & Company, who with the business 
of photographers combined that of variety agents. 
They principally catered for fetes and galas, which 
in those days were very much in vogue, consider- 
ably more so than at the present time. Another 
agency which was continued for many years, was 
that of Messrs Parravicini & Corbyn, at 44 Duke 
Street, Piccadilly. The business this firm did 
was almost entirely Continental, After some time 
Mr S. A. Parravicini continued the agency without 
the aid of his partner, and it continued to flourish 
until the death of that gentleman in 1893. Since 
then his former manager, Mr Percival Hyatt, has 
started for himself in the Strand, where he has 
an excellent connection. He procures engage- 
ments for most of the artistes who appear at the 
Crystal Palace. Mr Nelson Lee made a speciality 
of novelties of out-door entertainments ; Mr Harry 
Fox, besides his managerial and chairmanship 
duties, continued to find time for agency work ; 
and Mr Frank Hall, the song writer, and at the 



124 THE VARIETY STAGE 

present time the secretary of the Music Hall 
Benevolent Fund, was another who dealt out 
contracts at five per cent., not always though with 
' cash on delivery.' MM. Maurin and N. Perrin 
dealt solely in foreign goods and for the foreign 
markets. In 1863 Mr J. W. Anson, the honorary 
secretary of the Dramatic Musical and Equestrian 
Fund, started a music-hall agency in connection 
with the society, and appointed Mr W. R. Julian 
to manage the same, its offices being at 35 Bow 
Street, while on June 12th, 1864, Mr P. Corri, the 
musical director of Weston's, became one of the 
agent brigade. 

While so many had entered the ranks as agents 
in the Metropolis, it must not be supposed that 
the provinces had been neglected in this respect. 
The first to commence business in the country 
was Mr Maurice de Frece. This gentleman, who 
was born in London in 1840, was educated at the 
Dover Collegiate School, and after being con- 
nected with the Highbury Barn Gardens, started 
as an agent in Liverpool in 1858. His offices 
were in Roscoe Arcade, and among his clients 
were many of the most popular artistes of that 
time, among others being Harry Liston, who made 
his debut in a celebrated song ' The Tinpot Band,' 
Henri Clark, William Bailey, the late Fred 
Coyne, the late George Fredericks, Fred la 
Roche, Lingard, Alice Dunning, and Miss Rose 
Wreghitt, whom he discovered in a *free-and- 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 125 

easy' at Halifax, where she was singing and 
playing the piano at a weekly salary of only 
15s. Mr De Frece brought this lady to 
London, where she scored a very great success 
at the Oxford, Metropolitan and Foresters', at 
which halls she made her first appearance in 
London on the Easter Monday of 1870. Miss 
Jenny Hill was another ' star ' whom this far- 
seeing agent found at some provincial hall, and 
whom he secured engagements for in London, 
under his cegis the ' Vital Spark ' appearing at 
the Oxford, Metropolitan and Foresters'. Of Miss 
Bessie Bellwood, Mr de Frece has an amusing 
little story to tell. He was the first agent the 
lady ever had, and he engaged her to appear at the 
Royal, where, tastefully and neatly dressed, 'the 
guileless daughter of Erin ' sang a song entitled 
' Come under my Umbrella.' Two nights later 
Mr Sweasey, the then proprietor of this hall, said 
to the agent, ' She won't do ; she's too quiet ! ' 
Through Mr de Frece's instrumentality, Mr 
Charles Godfrey made his first appearance in 
the Metropolis, the hall being also the Royal. 

Besides his agency business, Mr De Frece has 
had a varied career in other directions, having 
been proprietor for a while of the Alhambra Music 
Hall in Liverpool, which he ran on the two houses 
a night principle, this being the first hall in the 
provinces to adopt this practice. Then he tcok 
the Adelphi Theatre in the same town, and later 



126 THE VARIETY STAGE 

opened the Theatre Royal in 1870. Afterwards 
he came to London, and had a season at the 
Charing Cross Theatre (now Toole's), when he'pro- 
duced for the first time in England Offenbach's 
comic opera 66, and The Marble Heart, an old 
Adelphi drama. This venture not proving a 
pecuniary success, Mr De Frece returned to his old 
love and commenced business as a London agent 
at 29 Wellington Street, where he remained until 
1877, when he removed to 11 York Road, where Mr 
Tom Holmes joined him as partner, but only for 
a short while. Then Mr De Frece moved to 55 
Waterloo Road, and stayed there till, in '79, he 
went to America, where he was the first enter- 
prising individual to start agency on the European 
plan. Later, the traveller sought fresh fields — or 
rather towns — in South Africa, where he toured 
the country as ' Professor Hoffman, Wizard of the 
City of the Golden Gate.' During his stay in the 
Transvaal he experienced many strange adven- 
tures, one of which is certainly worthy of record. 
At a small town he stopped at, on arrival he went 
to the estate agent and asked what place he could 
hire to give his entertainment in. ' There is 
none,' was the reply, 'except the police court.' 
Straightway the manager repaired thither and saw 
the magistrate, Mr Gee, who told him that there 
had been no amusements in the town for upwards 
of two years, and that he might give his ' show ' 
in the court after the business of the day was done. 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 127 

That afternoon De Frece had the ' court ' cleared 
and erected a stage. The entertainment proved 
a great success, and as there were no seats the 
audience brought their chairs with them. The 
next morning Mr De Frece went to pull down 
the fittings, when the enthusiastic magistrate said, 
— ' Never mind, I'll remand the prisoners ! ' And 
remanded they were for the space of four days. 
In 1884, Mr De Frece returned to London, where 
he met Mr Richard Warner, and became the pro- 
vincial manager to the firm of Warner & Company, 
which position he continues to hold with con- 
spicuous ability and success at the present time. 
Mr De Frece is, as well as an agent, a song v/riter 
and a dramatic author of no mean prowess. 

Mr George Ware is a veritable veteran in the 
ranks of agents. He secured for Mr Maynard the 
first provincial engagement he ever had, that was 
in the days when he was a comic singer, and was 
made in 1850, four years before Mr Maynard 
started as a music-hall agent. 

Mr George Ware started in the agency business 
as early as 1850, when he used to book novelties 
with Mr P. T. Barnum, among others being the 
famous Liliputian, 'Tom Thumb.' In 1857 Mr 
Ware was employed as manager by Mr Heath of 
the Colosseum, Liverpool, and afterwards officiated 
in the same capacity at the Whitebait Music Hall, 
at Glasgow. He was also manager for Mr Pullan 
at Bradford, and for the late Mr John Wilton at 



1 28 THE VA KIETY S TA GE 

his hall in Wellclose Square, in the east of Lon- 
don. After quitting his position here, Mr Ware 
devoted himself more particularly to the agency 
business, and in 1878 took offices in London, where 
he has remained ever since. Mr Ware, who was 
born in 1829, and commenced life as a sailor, and 
was also in the army, is also a song writer of 
repute. Among the best known ditties from his 
pen are, * The Whole Hog or None,' which the 
great Mackney made so popular ; ' The Squire 
and Maria,' ' Up goes the Price of Meat,' and 
' Whacky, Whacky, Whack.' He also wrote all 
the principal songs for Sam Collins, including 
' The Fiddler's Wife,' and gained the prize offered 
for the best song by Sam Cowell with ' The House 
that Jack Built' 

No account of music-hall agents would be com- 
plete without mention of Mr Hugh Jay Didcott, 
who, when a comic singer, decided to try his 
fortune in the agency line. His first offices were 
at 7 Waterloo Road, but afterwards he took 
premises at 1 1 York Road. Later, he migrated 
to Covent Garden, but returned to the Surrey 
side and took premises at 68 Waterloo Road. His 
business enormously increased, and early in 1889 Mr 
Didcott took possession of large offices in the York 
Road, where he remained till 1892, when he again 
moved his quarters, this time to 5 Henrietta Street, 
Covent Garden, where he is carrying on his agency 
at the present time. Mr Lofthouse, afterwards 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 129 

an agent himself, was at one time in Mr Didcott's 
office, and for a space Mr Frank Egerton acted as 
his manager. Mr Leon Victor was also employed 
by Mr Didcott for a period. In 1891 Mr Didcott 
took into partnership Mr Ben Nathan, and the 
firm of Didcott & Company continued until the 
summer of 1894, when it was dissolved by mutual 
consent. At one time Mr Didcott was very in- 
fluential and powerful in the music-hall world, and 
he was mainly responsible for the now very pre- 
valent three years' system of engaging artistes. 
There is no doubt but that it is greatly due to this 
agent that performers are to-day securing the 
enormous salaries many of them are in receipt of 
Another very celebrated agent whose reign of 
popularity is yet unabated is Mr Richard Warner, 
the head of the firm of Warner & Company, This 
gentleman became first associated with the profes- 
sion through his brother, who was a large diamond 
mercharit, marrying Miss Annie d'Est, who at that 
time was a well-known artiste, performing at Day's 
Music Hall, Birmingham Over twenty years ago 
Mr Warner met Mr De Frece, the Liverpool agent, 
and as the former was constantly travelling about 
for amusement, he agreed to transact business on 
the latter's behalf in the provinces. In 1882 Mr 
Warner started as an agent with Mr Kopt, an old 
schoolfellow, who had come over to England as 
the manager for the giantess Marian, who was 
appearing at the Alhambra. The firm was styled 

I 



I30 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Kopt & Company, but the partnership only lasted 
for twelve months, Mr Warner continuing the busi- 
ness alone. About this time Mr Warner met Mr 
Farini, who then was at the Royal Aquarium, and 
the two together, with Mr Charles Crowder of the 
Canterbury and Paragon, journeyed over to the Con- 
tinent in search of novelties, among other artistes 
whom they secured being the Schafifer Troupe and 
the Eugenes. Mr Farini, some nine years ago, 
became a partner with Mr Warner, and has been 
associated in the wonderfully successful firm of 
Warner & Company until last February, when the 
partnership was dissolved. Among other novelties 
that Mr Richard Warner has introduced to London 
audiences may be mentioned Ulpts, the dwarf; 
Aama, the giantess ; Princess Pauline, the Midget ; 
Sandow, the strong man, and the Dahomey warriors. 
Mr Warner has a very large and important agency, 
as may be judged from the fact that on his books 
are no less than two hundred and fifty prominent 
artistes. The offices of this agency were for many 
years at 1 1 York Road, but last summer they were 
moved to 20 Wellington Street. A speciality of 
Messrs Warner & Company is that they princi- 
pally act for troupes and other big combinations, 
in which line they are the first agents of the day. 
Mr G. A. Farini, it may be noted here, was re- 
cently the manager of the Moore and Burgess 
Minstrels. Among the clerks in the employ of the 
firm have been three gentlemen who have since 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 131 

Started agencies on their own account. They are 
Mr Fred Higham, Mr George Sinclair, and Mr 
FeHx Napoli. 

Brief mention must be made of the many other 
agencies which have flourished, or are continuing 
to flourish at the present time. Messrs Victor 
& Turnbull formerly had an agency in Stam- 
ford Street, the latter being the husband of Jenny 
Hill. At the close of the partnership Mr Leon 
Victor became manager to Mr Edward Colley, 
and on the latter's death in 1890, after continuing 
the business for the widow till November 1892, 
he purchased the business, and is now carrying on 
the agency. He is agent for Mr Dan Leno and 
many other ' stars.' Mr Leno was brought to 
London by Mr Edward Colley, who also intro- 
duced Little Tich to Metropolitan audiences. Mr 
Fred Gilbert started for himself, and was very 
successful. Afterwards he became manager to Mr 
G. H. Macdermott, and for some time was a partner 
with W. B. Fair as agents in Waterloo Road, York 
Road and Stamford Street, and he has recently 
commenced again on his own account at Savoy 
House, Strand. Mr Tom Holmes, who was one 
of the firm of Holmes & Gant, negro comedians, 
also started an agency, later on joining Mr Wie- 
land, with whom he remained for two years or 
more. After being associated for a while with Mr 
Macdermott, Mr Holmes went to America with 
the Moore and Burgess Minstrels, and when he re- 



132 THE VARIETY STAGE 

turned joined Mr William Oliver, and started an 
agency business in the York Road, which is still 
being carried on there with much success. Mr 
Wieland, who had offices in the Waterloo Road, 
was an agent of considerable repute. In 1868 Mr 
Wieland held an important position at the Crystal 
Palace, having the engagement of all artistes for 
that establishment under his control. He has made 
a speciality of gymnastic acts, and was manager 
for, among others, the Midgets, the Hanlons, the 
Brothers Volta, and the celebrated Zaeo. In 1878, 
Mr Wieland left the Crystal Palace, and took a 
circus over to the Continent, where he remained 
until 1890. He was interested in the unfortunate 
Alexandra Palace, and also the Royal Aquarium, 
Westminster. In his capacity as agent he had 
often visited Europe in quest of novelties for 
London variety theatres. Mr Wieland is at the 
present time watching over the interests of his 
clever and charming daughter. Miss Clara Wie- 
land, the English Vanoni, who has made such a 
pronounced success at the halls. 

The late Mr Lofthouse was formerly proprietor 
of the Oxford Music Hall in Liverpool, where he 
used to engage such people as Tom Croslin, the 
celebrated negro comedian, Jenny Hill, and Ada 
Lundberg's mother, a character singer, who used 
to sing * Too-ral-laddie ' and ' The Charity Girl. 
Mr Lofthouse also had a hall in Dublin, but he 
failed to make his business succeed, and became 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 133 

manager to Mr Didcott. After some time he 
started an agency of his own in the York Road, 
and was doing very well, when, on going to Man- 
chester one day to see the late Mr Garcia, he caught 
a severe chill. When he returned, he laid up and 
died a few days later. Miss H. Lofthouse is his 
daughter. She has continued in her father's foot- 
steps, and until the end of 1894 carried on an 
agency with Felix Napoli, the son of Napoli, the 
Italian Hercules. Miss Lofthouse is at the present 
time conducting the business alone, and Mr Napoli 
has opened offices as an agent at 5 5 Waterloo Road, 
which premises were many years ago in possession, 
for similar purposes, of Mr Fred Abrahams, and 
more recently of Mr Alf Abrahams, his brother. 

Mr Ernest de Vere's first connection with the 
music-hall profession was when he married, in 
1876, Miss Stella De Vere, the well-known comedi- 
enne, but it was not until 1883 that he commenced 
as an agent, his offices being at that time at 60 
York Road. Some eighteen months later he 
crossed over the road to his present abode, at 41 
Waterloo Road. Mr De Vere was born in 1853, 
at j}^ Southgate Road, opposite where Nelly Power 
lived and died. Among other artistes he has brought 
to London from the provinces are the clever Sisters 
Preston. Mr De Vere is a Past Master in Free- 
masonry, speaks three or four languages, was edu- 
cated on the Continent, and makes a speciality of his 
pantomime engagements for his clients at Christmas. 



134 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Mr George Sinclair's agency is in Stamford 
Street. He is of English birth, but left this country 
when young, and did not return till 1878, when he 
secured an engagement at the Lyceum, and acted in 
the production of Romeo and Juliet at that theatre. 
Then he went to the Alcazar, where he played Silly 
Billy in the pantomime of Cinderella. Next he 
went on the variety boards, and opened as a comic 
singer at the Hungerford. Later, he assumed the 
management of the Bedford Music Hall, where he 
remained for two years, until, indeed, Mr Freder- 
icks sold the hall. In 1885 he started in the agency 
business, and in 1887 he was acting as secretary to 
Messrs R. Warner & Company. After a while he 
decided to start for himself, and took offices at 20 
York Road, and is now at 182 Stamford Street. Mr 
Sinclair has written upwards of eight hundred songs. 

Mr Fred Higham has for several years had an 
agency of his own, first in Stamford Street and 
now at 9 York Road. He has a number of popular 
favourites on his books, and has managed to keep 
most of them in constant work. Mr G. H. 
Macdermott, the well-known vocalist, also has an 
agency. He started first at 130 Strand, with Mr 
Holmes as his partner, but they separated, and Mr 
Macdermott went over the water to 7 York Road, 
and for a time Mr Frank Egerton joined him, but 
the partnership did not continue for long. Mr J. 
Rosen is now his manager, and his present address 
is 50 Tennison Street, York Road. Mr George 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 135 

Foster is a young agent, who, during a brief career 
in the agency business, has earned for himself the 
title of the ' Busy Bee.' He started agency first in 
a small way at Bow, but some eighteen months ago 
shifted to 24 York Road, and is one of our rising 
agents. Messrs Tom Shaw & Company, of 86-7 
Strand, have only been established in London for a 
little over a year, but previous to that time Mr Shaw 
had carried on a very successful agency in Liver- 
pool. Since his arrival in London, this agent has 
worked very energetically and very successfully, 
and has many well-known artistes on his book. 
Mr 'Jones' is his smart manager and secretary. 
Mr Jack Edgar, of Leicester Square, is now con- 
tinuing, with much prosperity, the agency started 
by the late Herr Graff, whose partner he became 
shortly before the latter's death. Mr Richard Elliott, 
the husband of Miss Lucy Clarke, the celebrated 
contralto, is another popular agent, who has his 
habitat close by the Alhambra, and makes a 
speciality of introducing Continental novelties to 
London. His agency is one of the best managed 
and most successful in town. Messrs Auckland & 
Brunetti have an agency at 44 Waterloo Road, to 
which address they have removed from Stamford 
Street. Other existing agencies are those con- 
ducted by Mr Frank Albert, father of the Albert 
and Edmunds' Troupe, Mr Gallimore Fox, Mr 
Tom Prichard, Mr T. Pavillio, Beresford's Agency 
Messrs Dietrich & Company, Mr St John Denton, 



136 THE VARIETY STAGE 

whose connection is chiefly theatrical, and Mr Gus 
Healy, who at one time was partner in the firm of 
Healy & Cooke, at 44 Waterloo Road, and prior to 
that was associated with Mr Will Oliver at the 
same address. 

Messrs Nathan & Somers established, in the 
June of 1894, an agency at 10 Henrietta Street, 
which is as flourishing as a green bay tree. Among 
their clients are Mr E. J. Lonnen, Miss Alice Leth- 
bridge, Mr Gus Elen, and a great number of 
first-class artistes. This firm has opened up an 
extensive continental business, and are influential 
alike in the Metropolis and in the country. 

In the provinces the chief agents are Mr Oswald 
Stoll of Cardiff, ' Lord ' George Aytoun, and Messrs 
Sley, E. Leon, Fineberg & Company of Liverpool, 
and John Tiller, besides several others. 

Mr W. F. Bushfield, at present with Mr E. de 
Vera, has had a varied experience both as manager 
and agent. In 1865 he was a travelling agent, 
charging a sovereign on every engagement he 
secured an artiste. In 1870 he came to London, 
and opened in the Blackfriars Road, Nelson Square, 
where he remained for two or three years, and 
then opened an office in the West Strand with a 
gentleman named Waldiane. This firm continued 
for two years, and then Mr Bushfield took over the 
management of the old Alhambra Music Hall, 
Nottingham, for the late Mr George Allen, who 
had previously been chairman of the Philharmonic 



THE RISE OE THE AGENCIES 137 

at Islington. After directing the fortunes of this 
house for eighteen months, Mr Bushfield managed 
the Alexandra Music Hall for a magistrate named 
Jobson. Later, he was a comic singer, and then 
started the first music hall in Battersea, which he 
called ' The Magpie.' This is more than fifteen 
years ago. His next move was to Mr Fred 
Abrahams' Agency, where he remained for some 
years, at the same time undertaking the duties 
of acting manager and secretary of the Apollo 
Theatre, now the Queen's Poplar. Later on he 
managed the agency business for Mr H. Wieland, 
in the Waterloo Road ; and after being employed 
by Mr H. Didcott (when he commenced agency), 
Mr Macdermott and others, he joined the late Mr 
George Fredericks, with whom he remained until 
the latter's death, when he continued the business 
on his own account, but suffered a number of 
financial losses. He has travelled all through 
America, and brought over from that country 
Mr G. W. Hunter, who first appeared in London 
at the Royal, the Cambridge and the Raglan. 
Mr Hunter, when discovered, was a member of 
Mr Tony Denier's Humpty Duvipty Company. 
Mr Bushfield brought out Mr Will Oliver as a 
comic singer, and secured him engagements at 
Hull, Manchester and Sheffield. While he was 
managing the Alexandra, Dudley, Mr Dan Leno, 
with his father and mother, appeared there 
in sketches, and the Albert and Edmunds 



138 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Troupe made their first appearance at that 
hall. 

The business of the music-hall agents sprang, as 
we have shown, from very humble beginnings, but, 
with the rise of the institution it was so intimately 
associated with, it developed to the prodigious 
proportions it has at present attained. But it 
must not be thought that this gradual growth was 
nurtured without opposition. As in every other 
trade the middleman has been treated ofttimes with 
scant courtesy, his pretensions have been ignored, 
and his usefulness depreciated, but without avail. 
The agent is to the artiste a ' necessary evil ' — if he 
be an evil at all, which is a matter of opinion. 
And the reason of his necessity is not far to seek. 
The average music-hall performer, however clever 
and talented he may be in his own special line, is 
no match in the matter of business acumen with an 
astute manager, and the former cannot, in the 
reason of things, extol his own abilities and his 
own worth to the latter without egotism and undue 
boasting. But with the agent this is very different. 
He can, and he does, prove clearly to a manager that 
a certain performer is worth to him the terms that he 
asks, and often more. He has, or should have, that 
invaluable * gift of the gab,' which, added to a smart- 
ness in business matters, and a full knowledge of 
the subject in hand, convinces the proprietor that 
he really needs that artiste whom half an hour be- 
fore he had decided he would not have at any price. 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES 139 

Another raison d'etre for the existence of the 
agent is that while an artiste is touring in the 
provinces he can only communicate with a manager 
by letter, which is more often than not rapidly 
relegated to the realms of the waste-paper basket, 
and forgotten as soon as read. The agent, on the 
other hand, is on the spot, and by repeatedly 
dinning into the ears of a manager the intrinsic 
value of a performer, at length obtains an engage- 
ment. A not unimportant part of the duties of an 
agent, but one that is often overlooked, is the 
matter of 'times.' An artiste has, we will say, four 
' turns ' to work in London ; probably there is one 
in the northern quarter, another in the centre, yet 
another ' down East,' and the last far West. It is a 
problem of no easy solution how to fix the time 
when he is to appear at the respective establish- 
ments so that he can drive to his other engagements. 
The majority of managers all wish a ' star turn ' to 
appear at or about ten o'clock, and it is beyond the 
ken of man to know how any ordinary mortal can 
be in four places, each, perhaps, two or three miles 
apart, at the same identical moment. All this 
worry and anxiety of fixing the ' times ' the artiste 
leaves to his agent ; and surely this alone is worth 
some remuneration. Quite recently the crusade 
against the agent has been once more very pro- 
minently to the front, and the directors of several 
of the largest London halls have publicly announced 
that they prefer to engage artistes direct, and not 



1 40 THE VA RIETY S TA GE 

through any agency. But however this system of 
direct dealing between managers and artistes may 
become the custom in London, it is not likely to 
be much adopted in the provinces, where insuper- 
able difficulties would naturally arise. There 
agents are a necessity and a boon indeed. 

But, as has been said above, there has been a 
continual friction existing between the agent on 
the one part and the artiste on the other. This 
friction has become so acute that on some three 
occasions open war has been declared on the 
latter, but in each case, either through want of 
proper organisation, or because of the greater 
power of the opposing party, the victory has 
been with the agent, and a flag of truce declared. 
Even now there are several very prominent 
artistes who prefer to transact their business 
themselves, and not through the medium of an 
agent, and small blame to them if they have 
the ability to do so. But for the rank and file 
the agent is a ' long felt want,' and must continue 
so to be until the days when the music halls 
shall be but things of the past, which, it is need- 
less to add, is not yet. 

Of these anti-agency societies the most deserving 
of notice was one started some twenty years ago, 
the offices of which were in Bow Street, Covent 
Garden. In connection with this a largely 
attended meeting was held at the Royal Music 
Hall, at which several of the leading lights of 



THE RISE OF THE AGENCIES i4i 

the profession spoke in bitter words of the 
iniquities of the middlemen. They were de- 
nounced in virulent terms as men without con- 
science, men who took large sums from artistes 
and did no work for the money, men who were 
all that was base and sordid. But it was all a 
flash in the pan, all talk, talk, talk, and the anti- 
agency association lived but a very brief while, 
and died an unregretted death. 

Another and an earlier attempt to stamp out 
the agents, at that time but few in number, was 
an equal 'frost,' to use a theatrical term. This 
organisation, the offices of which were at 24 York 
Road, and whose manager was Mr Walter Burnot, 
the song writer, lasted but eighteen months. The 
most curious portion of the programme put 
forward by the promoters of this venture was, 
that while they held the agent and his doings 
in abhorrence, yet they were prepared to procure 
engagements for those artistes who supported them, 
and to charge them commission at precisely the 
same rate as those middlemen they were en- 
deavouring to abolish. Yet another organisation 
started in 1870 with objects akin to those already 
mentioned bore the high-sounding title of ' The 
Music Hall Artistes' Association and Club.' Their 
offices were over Clarkson's wig shop in Welling- 
ton Street, but the affair only lasted for a brief 
two years. One of the features of this association 
was that it started its own journal, which was 



142 THE VARIETY STAGE 

edited by Charles Coborn, and another of its 
characteristics was that it charged a commission 
of only two and a half per cent, to the artistes 
who were members of the society. 

That the agents have devoted themselves with 
energy and intelligence to music-hall matters, 
and have been a mighty factor in gaining for 
artistes the enormous salaries that they at the 
present time enjoy is an undoubted fact. Much 
has been said, and much more written, in abuse 
of these professional middlemen. No doubt many 
of them study their own personal interests at 
the sacrifice of their clients', but, on the other 
hand, it is only fair and just to state that they 
should not all be tarred with the same brush, 
and that the artistes owe them no small debt, 
and one not easily repaid, for the benefits received 
at their hands. As the music halls increase in 
popularity, and the variety theatres are more and 
more patronised, so will the rise of the agents 
continue and their number multiply. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE MUSIC-HALL PRESS 

Rise and Growth of Music-Hall Journalism — The Era — Beer 
and /"olitics — Charles Hibble and the ' Sheridan Knowles' 
— Development of the Era as a Theatrical and Variety 
Organ — The Magnet — Mr W. Fraser — The London En- 
tr'acte— '^N. H. C— Albert Bryant— The Music Hall 
Critic and Programme of Amusements — The Artiste — 
The Mnsic Hall Gazette— The Prompter— d. D. Stuart- 
Alec Nelson — The Music Hall — W. McWilliam — Frank 
Allport — The 'Leaf — The Ericore — Its Chequered 
Career — Charles Douglas Stuart — Cecil Howard — 'Will 
o' the Wisp' — Will Dodds — The Stage — The Periodical 
Press and the Halls — Future of Music-Hall Journalism. 

In these days of professional journals, class 
journals and trade journals, when ' the baker, the 
butcher, and the candlestick-maker,' not to mention 
the lady who condescends for a consideration ' to 
wash our linen and iron it too,' have all special 
journalistic organs of their own, it would be sur- 
prising, indeed, if the variety world were not 
equally well represented in the periodical press. 
As a matter of fact, it has to-day no less than 
three widely circulating journals, specially and ex- 
clusively devoted to its interests — as well as their 
own. The story of the rise and growth of this 

143 



144 THE VARIETY STAGE 

division of the music-hall world is not altogether 
devoid of interest, and the writers have endeavoured 
to record it in the following pages without fear or 
favour, ' setting down nought in malice and nought 
extenuating.' 

With the gradual development of the music hall, 
then, came also in the course of time its own repre- 
sentative press. But, as in other matters apper- 
taining to the variety world, this was brought 
about by easy, progressive stages. 

Before the year 1850, though there were numer- 
ous but ephemeral journals devoted to the drama, 
yet none of them referred, except occasionally in 
patronising terms, to the saloons. The latter were 
at that period not worthy, it would seem, of more 
than cursory notice. But the time of the import- 
ance of their successor, the music hall, was 
approaching. 

The first newspaper with which we have to deal 
as coming under the head of this chapter is the 
^r«, which came into existence in the year 1838. 
But it must not be thought that this journal com- 
menced as an exclusive organ of even the theatre. 
It was published on Sunday, had two editions, the 
town and the country, and was an ordinary 
general newspaper, dealing in its columns with 
matters political, matters relating to the licensed 
victuallers' body, which it represented, matters of 
all manners of sport and, to a limited extent, 
matters of theatrical interest. Mr Charles Hibble 



THE MUSIC HALL PRESS 145 

was one of the earliest managers of the Era. He 
was parh'amentary agent for the Licensed Vic- 
tuallers, and proprietor at the same time of the 
' Sheridan Knowles ' tavern in Brydges Street, 
Covent Garden, a famous resort at that day for 
men about town, literary and sporting gents and 
others. Here ' Vates,' the racing prophet, Mr 
Bailey and other members of the staff were accus- 
tomed to foregather and discuss affairs over steam- 
ing glasses of punch after the manner dear to the 
hearts of Bohemian journalists of half a century 
ago. To return to the journal itself, however, 
slowly and by degrees its advertisements became 
more and more dramatic and musical — not to say 
music hall — in tone, and in his wisdom the editor 
began to give more space to recording notices of 
plays produced at the chief theatres at that time in 
existence in the metropolis. A new departure was 
later on introduced, viz., reports from such lead- 
ing cities as Liverpool, Manchester, and so forth, 
which, in addition to recording news of theatrical 
interest, referred briefly to any important feature in 
the programmes given at the saloons. Still later, in 
looking through the pages of the Era, one comes 
across a footnote, or a small paragraph, which 
deals with some event which has occurred or is 
about to occur in some saloon or in a certain 
concert-room. Time, we have often been told, 
works wonders, and as in other instances, so in the 
subject under consideration. These little footnotes 

K 



146 THE VARIETY STAGE 

developed into extended accounts of the music- 
hall programmes of the time, with numerous jot- 
tings and gleanings from the variety world of that 
day. It had become apparent at last to those edit- 
ing the paper, that the music hall was a growing and 
popular institution, in the affairs of which the public 
had begun to exhibit more than passing interest. 

The honour of being the pioneer of the profes- 
sional penny music-hall press belongs to the Magnet, 
a paper first published in September 1866. Its 
office was at Talbot Yard, Leeds, and its editor ever 
since the first number up to the present time has 
been Mr W. Fraser. When first published, it con- 
sisted of four pages, foolscap size, but in 1870 was 
enlarged to four pages demy folio ; two years after 
it was again improved and altered to eight pages of 
the same size, and in this form it remained until the 
end of its twenty-fifth year of publication, when it 
was once again enlarged, this time to its present size. 
Its principal feature throughout its existence has 
been a ' Professional Directory ' of the variety halls 
in the United Kingdom, and the artistes engaged 
thereat for the current week. It is now in its twenty- 
ninth year of publication, and has a large circulation, 
almost entirelyconfined to the provinces. These two 
journals remained without a rival until, in January 
1870, a newspaper was started, called the London 
Entr'acte, its sub-title being ' The Illustrated Thea- 
trical and Musical Critic and Advertiser. A con- 
sulting paper for all amusements.' Its weekly cir- 



THE MUSIC HALL PRESS 147 

culation was stated to be 20,000. In its twenty- 
seventh issue we find the names in its advertising 
columns of Mr Herbert Campbell, Mr ' Jolly ' Nash, 
Mr -Victor Liston, Mr Gus Linton, the Great 
McLagan, the Onzalas, Liskard, Walter Labur- 
num, and others. These were what is now termed 
'card advertisements.' Among the agents were 
Parravicini, Mr A. Maynard, Mr John Lauri, 
Mr Charles Roberts, and Messrs Bushfield & 
Company. 

One of the features of the paper was a sketch 
of some celebrated performer, or someone well- 
known in music-hall circles, which was accom- 
panied with a few brief remarks concerning the 
subject of the picture. For some time these 
sketches were signed ' W. H. C.,' but after the 
first few numbers there appears the name of Mr 
Alfred Bryan, a gentleman who has been connected 
with the paper right up to the present day. The 
first editor was Mr Samuel Albert Barrow, but 
he resigned his post in May 1870. Another 
feature of this new departure in journalism was 
the insertion, upon the page facing the sketch, 
of the programme given at a certain hall, the 
paper being then sold in the halls as a programme, 
a practice which has continued in vogue up to the 
present time, and on which a great portion of the 
circulation of the paper is based. The proprietor 
of the London Entr'acte was Mr H, W. Foster, 
who afterwards sold it to Mr W. H. Coombes, the 



148 THE VARIETY STAGE 

present proprietor, who has for many years had 
as his lieutenant Mr Barber. 

On the 20th of June 1870, another journal saw 
the light of day. It was christened the Music 
Hall Critic and Programme of A musements. They 
were evidently fond of lengthy titles in those days. 
The imprint showed that it was printed by 
Ralph Augustus Harrison at the offices, 7 Piazza, 
Covent Garden. This journal also gave sketches 
of prominent professionals, with interesting ac- 
counts of their lives, and, like the London Entr'acte, 
it published programmes in the centre of the 
paper, opposite the sketches. Among other 
artistes, interviews with whom appeared in this 
paper (or rather what did justice for interviews, 
which had not yet come into vogue in English 
journalism), were Vance, Harry Liston, Charles 
Roberts and Miss Wreghitt. In opposition to the 
rhythmical effusion of its rival this paper also 
possessed a tame and harmless poet in ' Little 
Johnny Horner,' and by his verses it is seen that 
such things as matinees on Saturdays at the 
Oxford and Royal were, just as they are now, the 
meeting places for professionals. Sad to relate, 
this bright little paper only ran for a few weeks — 
seven numbers in all — and on the ist of August 
it expired, leaving the Era, the Magnet and the 
London Entr'acte in the field to compete one 
against the other. 

For a number of years after this no paper dealing 



THE MUSIC-HALL PRESS I49 

solely with the music-hall profession was started 
— none, that is to say, worthy of recording — until 
1887, when a promising little journal was born, 
entitled the Artiste. The first number was issued 
on January istofthat year, and was printed and 
published by Read, Brookes & Company, of 25 
and 26 Newberry Street, Aldersgate Street, for the 
proprietor, Mr James Deacon, at 164 Strand, Mr 
Deacon was at the time connected with Deacon's 
Music Hall, Clerkenwell. The principal feature 
of this brightly-written journal was that it con- 
tained two wood block pictures each week, but 
despite the large amount of support it received 
from all sections of the profession, it was doomed 
to a short existence, and, after appearing for 
eighteen weeks, expired, to the regret of many 
who believed in the principles of competition. At 
the commencement of this same year a paper was 
started which was named the Music Hall Gazette, 
published in John Street, Clerkenwell, but though 
it had as members of its staff several clever 
journalists, the day of a paper of its class had 
not yet arrived, and it lasted but a very brief 
while. 

The failure of these ventures made enterprising 
people shy of endeavouring to establish a music- 
hall paper in antagonism to those then in existence, 
and it was not until February 1889 that another 
was issued to the public. This was christened 
the Music Hall — a good title — and was founded 



ISO THE VARIETY STAGE 

by Mr W. McWilliam, a journalist connected with 
the cycling world. A week later another appeared 
in the field called the Prompter, which had a very 
short but a merry life. This was owned by Mr 
Charles Douglas Stuart, and was very largely 
supported by the best artistes, proprietors and 
agents, but fate was against it, and owing to the 
failure of a partner whom the owner entered into 
an arrangement with, the latter sold it, after it 
had run for eight weeks, to a gentleman who 
continued it for one issue more and then it died. 
Perhaps this paper was the most ambitious 
attempt to provide the profession with a journal 
such as it deserves that has yet been essayed. 
It was profusely illustrated with sketches of 
artistes, and was contributed to by such well- 
known writers as Dr Aveling (Alec Nelson) and 
many others. It also circulated as a programme 
in several of the principal London halls. 

Its rival, the Music Hall, continued to hold its 
sway, thanks to the energy of its editor and pro- 
prietor, who, in spite of a certain lack of the all- 
necessary money, was so persevering and deter- 
mined that eventually he won the day. During 
the perilous and early times of this paper, Mr 
McWilliam had as partners, each for a short while, 
Mr Charles Coborn, Mr Sam Torr and Mr Tom 
Merry. The latter, during the time of his part 
ownership, contributed a series of coloured plates 
of artistes, which were given away with the paper. 



THE MUSIC-HALL PRESS 151 

The chief features of the Music Hall in its earlier 
years were the sketch it gave of some celebrity in 
the profession on its front page, and the light, 
chatty way in which its columns were written. In 
1891, Mr McWilliam sold the paper to one of his 
contributors, Mr Frank Allport — better known to 
his readers as the ' Leaf — under whose proprietor- 
ship it has since been, and who is now its editor 
and owner. He has been assisted in the literary 
work of the paper by Mr J. Barnes — familiarly 
known as ' Barney ' — and under their management 
the journal has attained a large circulation all 
over the United Kingdom, and also abroad. 
Among its particular features at the present 
date are the alphabetical arrangement of the 
card advertisements, its list of music-hall stocks 
and shares, its monthly catalogue of new songs, 
and its presentation of prizes in competitions. 
It continued without any new rival worthy of 
mention until, on the i6th of December 1892, the 
youngest of all the music hall papers, the Eficore, 
was born. Of course it had a special feature, 
which was the presenting its readers with a half- 
tone photograph of a well-known artiste. This 
idea, coupled with the style of the paper, modelled 
somewhat on the lines of the Prompter, was 
speedily supported by the profession, but lack of 
money again intervened, and for a long time the 
paper had a very chequered career, though, in 
spite of this, its sale was very large from the com- 



1 52 THE VA RIETY S TA GE 

mencement. Its editor and founder was Mr 
Charles Douglas Stuart, who was assisted for 
some time by Mr Edward Lawrance, and among 
its literary staff was Mr Cecil Howard, who con- 
ducted its theatrical columns, and Mr A. J. Park, 
who, under the pseudonym of ' Will o' the Wisp,' 
contributed a series of dramatic sketches entitled, 
* Told by the Chairman,' which went through the 
first volume. Among the artistic corps was Mr 
Will Dodds, a clever black and white artist who 
had made a speciality of music hall work, and Mr 
Percy Hudson. After a change of proprietorship 
in December 1893, it was still edited by Mr 
Stuart, with Mr Fred Lacey as sub-editor. In 
June 1894, the paper, in consequence of its suc- 
cess, was enlarged, and in September of that year 
a new feature was introduced, in the shape of 
small photographic blocks, the size of a postage 
stamp, which were inserted in each card advertise- 
ment. In November '94, Mr T. Murray Ford, one 
of the proprietors, joined Mr Stuart as co-editor, 
and the former gentleman is continuing to direct 
the fortunes of the journal at the present time — 
Mr Charles Douglas Stuart's and Mr Fred Lacey's 
connection with the periodical in question having 
since ceased. 

In the above resume of the professional press 
mention has only been made of those papers 
mainly or principally dealing with the music-hall 
world. But it may be as well to record that, as 



THE MUSIC-HALL PRESS 153 

the variety theatres, as they are termed to-day, 
became more prominent and more popular, the 
general newspaper press began to devote a column 
or two to these establishments. The Stage, which 
at first confined itself purely to theatrical matters, 
felt the advisability of a small infusion of the 
variety element, and started a couple of columns, 
which it has since continued, the writer of them 
being Mr Francis Raphael. The Topical Times 
also, ever since it was first established in 1883, 
had devoted a column or more to music - hall 
matters. Among the writers of these notices 
have been Mr R. Barnard, Mr Willie Young, and 
Mr C. Douglas Stuart, who, on severing his con- 
nection with the paper, was succeeded by Mr \V. 
E. Rose, a gentleman who still occupies the post 
of music-hall critic for this paper. The Sportirig 
Times, Licensed Victuallers Mirror, and nearly all 
the weekly press of a certain order have now a 
music-hall article chiefly devoted to criticising 
new performances, with sometimes a paragraph 
or so. Even some of the evening papers are 
now giving, once a week, jottings of professional 
news, and illustrated journals, such as the Sketch 
and St PaiiFs, have, in every week's issue, photo- 
graphs of prominent artistes. 

From the foregoing it is obvious that the music 
hall has developed into a powerful public institu- 
tion, whose influence and importance as a factor 
in the social life of the people cannot be over- 



154 THE VARIETY STAGE 

estimated. If further proof of this be required, 
we have only to glance at the greatest of our 
dailies, wherein we find recorded notices of con- 
siderable length of every new production, every 
ballet of importance placed on the boards of our 
variety theatres. The time will come, indeed we 
believe it not to be far distant, when every daily 
journal will have its own special music-hall critic, 
and will give a special column of news dealing 
exclusively with music-hall affairs, such as the 
majority now allot to matters of theatrical interest. 
The writers of these chronicles indeed venture to 
prophesy that the music-hall press, which may be 
said to be still comparatively young in years, will 
become in time still more influential in connection 
with the variety profession, for which it has been 
the means of securing in the past many advantages 
it would never otherwise have gained, and as the 
representative of which it will doubtless continue 
to maintain the high standard of usefulness it has 
attained at the present day. 



CHAPTER X 

THE GROWTH OF THE VARIETY PROFESSION 

Rightly called a Profession — Clannish but not * Clubbable ' — The 
Scheme for a Music-Hail Club — Artistes Societies — Objects, 
Charity and Sociability — The Dramatic Equestrian and 
Musical Sick Fund — Date of Establishment — Music Hall 
Provident Society — First Meeting — Title of ' Sick Fund ' 
added — Mr Dion Boucicault — A Successful Meeting — The 
Career of the Society since — Its Officers — The M. H. B. Fund 
— When started — Its Objects — How it is managed — Its 
Present and Past OfTicers — How it raises its Funds — The 
Annual Dinners, and the Chairmen — Music-Hall Sports — 
The Scanty Support received from the Profession — The 
Reasons therefor — The Rats — The Terriers, now a Friendly 
Society — The Stags — The J's — The Profession and Free- 
masonry — Proprietors of Entertainments Association — Its 
Objects and its Officers — Sir Blundell Maple's Proposal — 
The Lack of Unionism among the Profession — A Hope for 
the Future — But very much in mibibtis. 

As the variety stage increased in importance, so 
in the natural sequence of things the artistes 
who appeared thereon began to be regarded as 
the professors of a regular calling. It is only 
within recent years, however, that music-hall 
performers have had the right to class themselves 
as members of a recognised profession. 

Artistes, taking them generally, may be clannish 
but they are certainly not 'clubbable,' as Dr 

155 



1 56 THE VARIETY S TA GE 

Johnson would say. This, no doubt, is partially 
due to the fact that their long, hard work each 
night makes them prefer the solitude and peace- 
fulness of their own fireside to the luxurious com- 
fort of the best club in all the wild world. The 
idea of a music-hall club is no new-fangled one, 
the matter has been repeatedly gone into, but 
in every instance the truth has been arrived at — 
sometimes after much bitter experience — that pro- 
fessionals will not support a club in whatsoever 
locality it may be situated, so that these well- 
meant efforts have all fallen to the ground. But 
though the profession has not, and for all we know 
or expect never will have, a club of its own in the 
more technical sense of the word, nevertheless a 
number of societies or associations have sprung up 
in its midst devoted specially and exclusively to its 
interests. The greater number of these societies 
have as their main object charity, and as additional 
aims the consolidation of their members into one 
united body for mutual protection, assistance and 
support. 

The first of such bodies to take under its fold 
the music-hall profession was the Dramatic Eques- 
train and Musical Sick Fund. This was esta- 
blished in 1856, its secretary being Mr J. W. 
Anson, and its offices in Bow Street, Covent 
Garden. It remained in existence for a number 
of years, and in its day contrived to do a large 
amount of good in a quiet and unostentatious 



GKO J I 'r// OF VA RIE TV PROFESSION 1 57 

manner. This institution continued without a 
rival for a period of over eleven years, when the 
Music Hall Provident Society, as it was then called 
(the addition of ' Sick Fund ' been added in later 
years), was established on the 22d of August 1865. 
A meeting in furtherance of the proposed establish- 
ment of a society, the principal object of which 
should be that it would confine its operations to 
the music-hall profession exclusively, was held at 
Weston's, but the scheme does not appear to have 
developed with anything like lightning speed, for 
the first meeting of the Music Hall Sick Fund 
and Provident Society was not held till March 
19th, 1867, when the late Mr Dion Boucicault was 
in the chair, and on which occasion no less than 
200 guineas were subscribed by enthusiastic sup- 
porters of the idea By the rules of this society 
a member regularly contributing his shilling a 
week to the coffers of the fund is entitled to many 
benefits, not the least of which is a certain sum per 
week during illness, and in the event of death a 
specified amount is also handed to the widow or 
nearest relative of the defunct member. 

This society, whose energetic secretary has been 
ever since the day of its start Mr G. W. Hunt, the 
at one time most popular song writer of the day, 
has its offices in the Waterloo Road. It continues 
to work in its sphere of usefulness in an unob- 
trusive manner, appealing to the sympathies of the 
general public only on the occasion of an annual 



158 THE VARIETY STAGE 

benefit in aid of its funds held every December 
at Collins's Music Hall, which on this occasion is 
granted free of all charge by the proprietor, a 
grand array of artistes both from the theatrical 
and the variety worlds contributing to the pro- 
gramme. The present president of the society 
is Mr Herbert Campbell, and among the committee 
are Messrs W. Bailey, ' Jolly ' John Nash, James 
Fawn, Harry Randall, and other prominent lights 
in the music-hall world. 

The next important professional society with 
which we have to deal is the Music Hall Benevol- 
ent Fund. This was started by Messrs Richard 
Warner and Charles Coborn in the year 1888. It 
begun in a very small way, but, like everything 
else connected with the variety stage, it followed 
Miss Topsy's example and 'growed.' The fund 
is purely benevolent and not a provident fund, 
relieving needy and deserving artistes with free 
grants. An annual subscription of one guinea is 
made for membership, and from this body is formed 
the general committee, the present chairman of 
which is Mr James Chappell, and the vice-chair- 
man Mr Fred Law. There is also in connection 
with this society a relief committee who meet 
every Thursday to take particulars of applications 
for assistance. The hon. president of this fund 
is Sir Augustus Harris, the present president, 
election for which office is made yearly, being 
Mr J. W. Cragg, of the Cragg Troupe. A past 



GRO WTH OF VA RIE TV PROFESSION 1 59 

president, who has ahvays exhibited much interest 
in the welfare of the fund, is Captain Purkiss, who 
is still a member of the committee. The trustees 
are, and have been for many years, Messrs G. A. 
Payne and Richard Warner. Mr J. L. Graydon is 
the treasurer and Mr Frank Hall, the veteran 
agent, song writer and manager, now worthily fills 
the position of secretary. 

It is a regrettable fact that the profession is 
very lax in its support of the fund, and the 
guineas received from those artistes who are earn- 
ing three and four thousand a year are very few 
and far between. But fortunately for the continu- 
ance of its useful existence, the fund derives a 
very considerable share of its revenue from the 
outside public. One of its modes of appealing to 
them is by a public dinner, at which some not- 
able personage takes the chair, by which means is 
realised each year some £>yx> or more. There 
have been five of these dinners held, the first three 
taking place at the Holborn Restaurant, and 
the latter two at the Whitehall Rooms, Hotel 
Metropole. Sir Augustus Harris has kindly pre- 
sided on two of these occasions, and Sir J. 
Renals twice, once when sheriff, and again dur- 
ing his tenure of office as Lord Mayor. 

Another means of enriching the coffers of the 
fund has been the Annual Music Hall Sports, 
which have now been held for five years past. It 
should be mentioned in reference to the many 



i6o THE VARIETY STAGE 

handsome prizes given to the fortunate winners 
at these modern Olympian games, that very nearly 
all are sent by friends of the fund, professionals 
and others connected with the music-hall world. 

The scanty support accorded to this society, 
however, by the profession in a general sense is 
most perceptible at the general annual meeting 
held in September of each year, when a very 
meagre attendance is the rule. The reason for 
this lack of support from artistes is difficult to find. 
It is partially due, perhaps, to the fact that 
members of the profession individually disburse 
a considerable sum yearly in private charity, that 
they have their own societies, to which we shall 
shortly refer, and contribute to the needy through 
this medium. It may also, in some degree, be due 
to the prevalent idea that the managers and agents 
are too much interested in the work, and do not 
give the artistes a fair representation on the com- 
mittee. But whatever the reason be, it is a melan- 
choly fact that so rich and prosperous a profession 
should not be able to make its benevolent fund 
the flourishing institution which its aims and 
objects justify. 

It has been said that the profession is unclub- 
bable, but it is at the same time essentially 
sociable and convivial, and revels in gastronomic 
functions and social festivities, for the promotion 
of which it has formed itself into numerous little 
coteries of a friendly and convivial character. 



GROWTH OF VARIETY PROFESSION i6f 

The ' Rats' was the first, and may be said to be 
the principal of these somewhat curious institu- 
tions which have for their motto Charity and 
Sociability. They are proverbially generous, the 
members of this Society, and many's the ' pro ' 
who has received aid and assistance in time of 
trouble from their wealthy funds. Among its 
members are many of the most prominent artistes 
in the profession. Its invitation balls at the 
' Horns,' Kennington, where the society has its 
habit at are very enjoyable. In the summer time, 
being true river rodents, the members go on 
pleasant trips by launches up the Thames. 

Another society of a similar nature is the Ter- 
riers' Association, which was founded in May 1890, 
and was for over twelve months limited to twenty- 
four active members. Since the restriction as to the 
number of members was removed, the society has 
proved most successful, so much so, that it became 
in 1894 necessary to register it under the Friendly 
Societies' Act. The funds of the T. A. are grow- 
ing every day and are applicable to the benefit 
of members, who are entitled to a doctor's attend- 
ance and a certain sum a week when ill, assistance 
when out of employment, and an allowance to the 
widow at death. The number of members is close 
upon two hundred, and the headquarters and place 
of meeting on Sunday evenings is ' The Three 
Stags,' Kennington Road. Before the Terriers 
were registered they did a great deal of charitable 

L 



i62 THE VARIETY STAGE 

work outside their own association, but since 
that time, though they do what is in their power, 
they are bound to devote themselves to benefit- 
ing their own members. Mr J. H. Stokes is the 
present secretary of the Terriers. They hold 
annually a very successful public fancy dress 
ball in February at the Freemasons' Tavern, 
Great Queen Street, which is attended in large 
numbers by the members of the profession. 

A society calling itself the ' Stags ' was founded 
in 1892, but it has since either ceased to exist or 
else has become merged into one of the larger 
societies. 

Quite a young society yet is the J's, which 
has already well justified its existence, and has 
a large number of prominent professionals as 
members. The J's devote a lot of attention to 
out-door sport, and delight in baseball, cricket 
and football. Those who belong to this ' Grand 
Order' are for the most part young performers 
of an athletic turn of mind. A gentleman who 
ever since its birth has acted as a patron, and 
taken a warm and kindly interest in the society's 
welfare, is Mr W. Grimes, at whose hostelry, the 
' New Crown and Cushion,' in the Westminster 
Bridge Road, which by the way is a favourite 
house of call for professionals, the meetings are 
held. The members cannot be designated as 
'jays,' as the slang phraselogy has it, except in 
name ; on the contrary, they are very wide awake, 



GROWTH OF VARIETY PROFESSION 163 

and while knowing full well how to best assist a 
friend when in distress, they also are fully cognis- 
ant of the most enjoyable means of making life 
happy, as any visitor at their summer outings or 
one of their jovial suppers can testify. The 
society, although at first formed on social lines, 
has rapidly developed several very useful addi- 
tional features, notably that of providing an 
allowance to members unable to follow their 
profession through sickness or accident, and of 
assisting members in distress or difficulty. The 
'Grand Order of J's' now numbers close on 
seventy members, many of whom are well known 
in the world of sport and usually carry off a 
large number of prizes at the Annual Variety 
Sports, besides which its well-known baseball team 
stands in high esteem, having in '94 secured the 
* Knowles Trophy ' absolutely, and the ' Spald- 
ing Cup ' for the first time. It is interesting to 
note the lively interest taken by this society in 
all matters connected with the profession, and it 
was the first to take a leading part in the agita- 
tion over the Empire licence, sending deputations 
and petitions in support of the management of 
the halls. A rather interesting feature of the 
society is that the members provide out of their 
number an orchestra which performs, and with 
great ability too, at music-hall charitable benefits, 
and which also entertains fellow 'J's' at divers 
times. Among the best known members of this 



i64 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Order are the Boisset and Jee Troupes, the 
Brothers Horn, Charlie Chapman, Stebb and Trepp, 
Fred Marchant (late stage manager at the Oxford), 
Edward Nye and numerous others. The present 
secretary of the society is Mr S. J. Wenham. 

Though only of recent date yet a number of 
music-hall professionals are being initiated into 
the rites and ceremonies of Freemasonry, and 
there is now a lodge known as the Pimlico Lodge 
where the majority of brothers are in some way 
connected with the music-hall world. To this 
many of the best agents belong, and also some 
proprietors and managers. 

Though scarcely touching upon the rise of 
the music-hall profession, yet it is certainly one 
of the signs of the times, and demonstrates 
very forcibly the importance of the variety stage, 
that the proprietors of halls have combined to- 
gether and have established a society of their 
own which is called The Proprietors of Enter- 
tainments Association. The present president 
is Mr J. H. Jennings. Mr J. L. Graydon is the 
honorary secretary, and the solicitor especially 
engaged to protect the interests of members 
is Mr W. H. Rutland. The only agent who is 
permitted to be present when in these solemn 
conclaves matters of great moment are under dis- 
cussion is Mr Richard Warner of the firm of 
Warner & Company. 

But it should here be writ down that by no 



GROWTH OF VARIETY PROFESSION 165 

means all managers belong to the association, a 
fact that became evident when a resolution was 
recently put forward to the members as to whether 
or not they should support the proposal of Sir 
Blundell Maple, who had written a letter to the 
daily press advocating that, instead of the L.C.C. 
being allowed to give or take away licences, the 
matter should be in the hands of a specially ap- 
pointed number of magistrates. The members 
of the Proprietors of Entertainments Association 
warmly supported this resolution, and the fact of 
their having done so leaked out in the papers. 
Immediately on reading this, Mr Newson-Smith, 
on behalf of the Directors of the London Pavilion, 
Tivoli and Oxford, caused a statement to be circu- 
lated saying that on their part they would support 
the retention of the London County Council as a 
licensing authority. 

Here is further proof, if it be wanting, that 
whatever grade of the profession one may take, 
in all alike is there to be found that sad want of 
unanimity, that lack of union, which has in so many 
ways tended to the non-realisation of many pro- 
jects and schemes which were all for the ultimate 
benefit of the profession as a whole. It may 
be that, in the course of time, this may be altered, 
and artistes may combine to the elevation and im- 
provement of their common cause. It has been 
growing by gradual but not undefinable degrees 
this music-hall profession, but it is not likely ever 



1 66 THE VARIETY STAGE 

to make any substantial progress in fraternal 
consolidation or social status until petty jeal- 
ousies are eradicated and esprit de co7-ps better 
appreciated. 



CHAPTER XI 

MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS 

Fletcher of Saltoun— Ballad Writers and Ballad JVn'/ers—The 
Music- Hall Lyric — Its Peculiar Claims — Music-Hail 
Bards— Tom Hudson— Blewitt—' The Little, Grey, Fat 
Man' — John Lahem — Invidious Comparisions — 'Vilikins 
and his Dinah' — 'The Ratcatcher's Daughter' — Robert 
Glindon — ' The Literary Dustman ' — Harry Sydney — Harry 
Clifton — ' Paddle Your Own Canoe ' — ' Pulling Hard 
Against the Stream' — ' Polly Perkins ' — Henry S. Leigh — 
Victor Listonand 'Shabby Genteel' — Frank Hall — 'In the 
Strand '— E. V. Page— G. \V. Hunt— His ' Jingo ' Song- 
Its Effect — The Paris Figaro — George Ware — ' The Whole 
Hog or None' — Fred Gilbert — 'The Man who Broke the 
Bank ' — Modern Bards — Richard Morton and ' Ta-ra-ra- 
bom-de-ay ' — Phenomenal Success of the latter — J. P. Har- 
rington — Felix M'Glennon — J. Tabrar — Other Authors — 
Popular Composers — Song Publishers — Status of Song 
Writers — Old Prices and New — Custom of the Profession. 

Fletcher of Saltoun is accredited with an obser- 
vation anent the making of a people's laws and 
the making of a people's ballads, which has become 
historic, Fletcher, however, lived and died before 
the era of the music hall, or the preference which 
he is alleged to have expressed for the composition 
of popular lyrics to the manufacture of national 
statutes might have undergone considerable modi- 
fication. Doubtless, the peculiar variety of ballad 

167 



1 68 THE VA RIE TY STAGE 

which this ancient writer had in contemplation 
when he delivered himself of the reflection which 
is attributed to him, was that to which belong 
such metrical effusions as appear in Bishop Percy's 
interesting anthology — the Battle of Chevy Chase, 
the romances of Robin Hood, and the various 
domestic and patriotic lays which moved the 
hearts of the people in the days of wandering 
bards and local laureates, when the barrel organ and 
the pianoforte were not, and the palace of variety 
had yet to appear. The claims of the music-hall 
lyric, however, to rank among the legitimate 
ballads of the people are incontestable. It is the 
genuine successor of the ancient national lays 
before alluded to, and reflects with unerring 
fidelity the social and political sentiments and 
aspirations of the great proletariat, of whose 
manners, customs and feelings it may fairly be 
regarded as the direct lyrical expression. In this 
respect, and as presenting in some degree 'an 
abstract and brief chronicle ' of the times, the songs 
of the music hall are well worthy of the attention 
of the student of social history, while, to the 
general reader, the subject should possess special 
attraction. In any case, the story of the rise and 
progress of the English variety stage would hardly 
be complete without some account of its own 
particular bards, and the most popular of their 
lyrics. In this chapter, therefore, it is proposed to 
review, in more or less detail, the work of those 



MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS 169 

song writers who have left their mark in the annals 
of the halls, and whose effusions, topical, amatory, 
bacchanalian, or political, still echo faintly along 
the corridors of Time. 

Of Tom Hudson, whose name is among the first 
to suggest itself in this connection, mention has 
already been made in an earlier chapter. For 
literary finish and genuine humour, he has seldom 
if ever been excelled by modern bards, and his 
compositions remain models of their kind. Hudson 
had an excellent collaborator in the person of 
Blewitt, the composer, who was himself the author 
of several admirable ditties which had a rare vogue 
in the days of the song and supper-rooms, and one 
or two of which have since passed into classics. 
One of Blewitt's most popular compositions was 
' The Little, Grey, Fat Man.' This song, unlike so 
many others of the period to which it belongs, is 
devoid of the slightest trace of vulgarity, while it is 
animated from beginning to end by the drollest 
of humour. The following verse may be taken as 
a fair sample of the others : — 

' There's a little man dressed all in grey, 
He lives in the city, and he's always gay ; 
He's round as an apple, plump as a pear. 
He has not a shilling, nor has he a care. 
Yet he laughs and he sings ah ! ah ! ah ! 
That merry, little, fat, grey man.' 

John Labern was a prolific writer of songs at 
the time when Cowell, Sharp and Ross were the 



1 70 THE VARIETY S TA GE 

rage of the town, and supplied each of these 
singers with numerous witty compositions. He 
was a clever and versatile author, but much of his 
work was marred by the coarseness of his language 
and allusions. 

There is a constant charge of vulgarity and 
literary weakness brought against the writers of 
music-hall songs of to-day, and invidious compari- 
sions in these respects are constantly being drawn 
between the latter and those of the period just 
alluded to. Yet many of the songs popularised 
by Cowell and his school would scarcely be 
tolerated in any West End hall to-day. ' Vilikins 
and his Dinah ' tickled the ears of an older genera- 
tion, but a modern music-hall audience would 
hardly go into raptures over such sorry doggerel as 
the following : — 

' As Dinah vas valking 

In the garden vun day, 
Her papa came up to her 

And thus he did say, — 
" Go, dress yourself, Dinah, 

In gor-ge-ous array, 
And I'll get you a husband 

Both vally-ant and gay," 
Singing too-ral-loo,' etc. 

Or take the following lines from another well- 
known ditty of the period : — 

' His donkey cocked his ears and brayed, 
Folks couldn't tell what he was arter, 
To hear a lily-white sandman cry, 

" Do you want any rat-catchers daughter?'" 



MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS 171 

There were nevertheless capable song writers 
enough in the fifties and sixties, and of these 
Robert Glindon the vocalist was probably one of 
the best. 

A very fair idea of Glindon's capacity as a lyric 
author may be gleaned from the opening verse of 
one of his principal efforts ' The Literary Dustman,' 
which will convey to the reader at the same time 
some notion of the style of song in vogue about 
forty years ago. 

' Some folks may boast of sense, egad ! 

Vot holds a lofty station ; 
But, tho' a Dustman, I have had . 

A liberal hedication. 
And tho' I never vent to school, 

Like many of my betters, 
A turnpike man vot varn't no fool. 

He larnt me all my letters. 
They calls me Adam Bell, 'tis clear, 

As Adam vos the fust man — 
And by a co-in-cide-ance queer, 

Vy, I'm the fust of Dustmen, 

Vy, I'm the fust of Dustmen ! ' 

The advent of the music hall proper, with the 
increase in the number of popular singers which 
followed, brought to the fore a fresh army of song 
writers, among whom two authors, Harry Sydney 
and Harry Clifton, long held conspicuous positions. 
The former, who was a comic vocalist as well as 
author and composer, will be best remembered by 
his songs, ' In a Quiet Sort of Way,' and ' A Rolling 
Stone gathers no Moss.' During his professional 



172 THE VARIETY STAGE 

career Mr Sydney was associated with the first 
Oxford Music Hall, and with Sam Collins's during 
the proprietorship of Mr and Mrs Watts, while still 
later he was manager of the Philharmonic. After 
quitting the Philharmonic, Sydney fulfilled numer- 
ous starring engagements in the provinces, and 
was a great favourite at Glasgow, Manchester and 
Liverpool. He died at Holloway on the i6th of 
June 1870, at the age of forty-five, after a short 
illness of Bright's disease. 

Harry Clifton was an author whose songs had 
almost as much vogue in the drawing-room as on 
the variety stage. They were sentimental in tone, 
and generally gave expression to some homely or 
inspiriting motto, which made them very popular 
with audiences of every class. 

' Paddle Your Own Canoe ' was a song with a 
theme eminently calculated to awaken the sympa- 
thies of the average Britisher. There is a good, 
honest sentiment pervading the following lines, 
which is very characteristic of this song writer's 
work : — 

' Then love your neighbour as yourself, 
As the world you go travelling through. 
And never sit down with a tear or a frown, 
But paddle your own canoe.' 

Take another of Clifton's motto songs, ' Pulling 
Hard Against the Stream,' and you will find the 
same spirit of cheerful camarderie breathing in 
every line : — 



MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS 173 

' Do your best for one another, 
Making life a pleasant dream, 
Help a worn and weary brother 
Pulling hard against the stream.' 

* Work, Boys, Work, and be Contented,' is another 
effusion in a similar vein. In his lighter moods 
Clifton was equally happy in the selection and 
treatment of his theme, and could turn out some 
very amusing lyrics. Most patrons of the halls 
whose recollections extend back to the later sixties 
will be able to recall such ditties as ' The Calico 
Printer's Clerk,' or ' Polly Perkins of Paddington 
Green,' the latter was a very popular ditty in its 
day, and the simple refrain, — 

' She promised she would marry me 
Upon the first of May ; 
But she left me with a bunch of watercreases,' 

was chaunted for months all over the town. 

Harry Clifton was a native of Hoddesden, in 
Herefordshire, and was educated at Cheshunt. 
Left an orphan at an early age, he entered the 
concert-room profession, and subsequently migrated 
to the halls, where he was highly successful as a 
comic and motto vocalist. He died at his residence 
at Shepherd's Bush on the 15th of July 1872, after 
a brief illness. He was buried on the i8th of the 
same month in the cemetery at Kensal Green. 

The late Mr Henry S. Leigh, of Punch, one of 
the most versatile writers then on the staff of the 
London Charivari, did not disdain to occasionally 
supply the popular music-hall artistes of his day 



174 THE VARIETY STAGE 

with flowing lyrics, and deserves some mention in 
this place. One of Mr Leigh's most successful 
essays as a writer of music-hall songs was ' Shabby 
Genteel,' a ditty popularised by Mr Victor Liston, 
a very clever character vocalist. Who has not met 
the unfortunate creature who has seen better days, 
and, pinched with poverty, plaintively confesses, — 

' Too proud to beg, too honest to steal, 
I know what it is to be wanting a meal ; 
My tatters and rags I try to conceal, 
I'm one of the Shabby Genteel?' 

Mr Herbert Stewart, better known in music-hall 
circles as Frank Hall, has been for many years 
past a prolific writer of songs of the buffo order. 
His ^most popular ditty, perhaps, was 'In the 
Strand,' which the * inimitable ' Mackney has been 
singing any night these thirty years. The following 
verse from this old song will probably awaken 
many interesting associations in the mind of the 
reader. It is a fair specimen of Mr Hall's ability 
as a song writer, and of a class of song very com- 
mon some decades ago : — 

' For the last few weeks iVe been a-dodging 
A girl I know that's got a lodging 
In the Strand. 
The first thing that put my heart in a flutter 
Was her Balmoral boot, as she crossed the gutter 
In the Strand. 
I wish I was with Nancy, 

In a second floor for ever more 
I'd live and die with Nancy 

In the Strand, in the Strand, in the Strand.' 



MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS 175 

Mr Frank Hall was born in 1838, and received 
a first-class education at the Royal Naval College. 
He was articled to an architect, but speedily 
abandoned architecture for the stage. After some 
provincial touring he obtained an engagement at 
the Adelphi Theatre through the influence of his 
friend, the late Mr Leigh Murray. Mr Hall was 
the original Father W^alter in The Bells when Mr 
Irving made his first hit in his remarkable imper- 
sonation of Matthias in that play. Some years 
later Mr Hall was manager at the Alhambra, 
where he produced several successful comic operas. 
Later on, he was for a short period in management 
at the Philharmonic, Islington, which he left to return 
to the Alhambra. Mr Hall is the present secretary 
of the Music Hall Benevolent Fund, but still finds 
time to indulge in his literary and artistic avocations. 

Another versatile song writer is Mr E. V. Page, 
the present general manager of the Royal Cam- 
bridge, who in his time has been the author of many 
popular successes, among others, the late Nelly 
Power's ' La-di-da,' James F"awn's ' Only One,' 
and Jenny Hill's ' 'Arry,' which was one of that 
talented comedienne's greatest hits. Mr Page's 
connection with the variety world has been long 
and varied. Until the year 1868 he was engaged 
in city affairs, but, like many others before him, he 
left the centres of commerce to try his fortune on 
the music-hall stage. Under the auspices of the 
late Ambrose Maynard he held various engage- 



176 THE VARIETY STAGE 

ments at the old Philharmonic, Gatti's, Bedford, 
the Sun, and similar establishments. In 1871, 
soon after his marriage, he again returned to 
commercial pursuit, occupying his spare time in 
the compositions of innumerable ditties. Again, in 
1882, he went back to the music-hall profession, 
and after a short sojourn at the Royal under 
Captain Purkiss, he joined forces with Mr William 
Riley at the Cambridge, where he has occupied an 
important and onerous position ever since. 

Another veteran song writer is Mr G. W. Hunt, 
whose lyrical efforts might be enumerated by the 
score. Among Mr Hunt's principal successes may 
be mentioned ' Old Brown's Daughter,' ' Down 
Among the Coals,' and ' Billy Johnson's Ball,' all 
of which ditties will be familiar to music-hall 
patrons of a generation ago. Mr Hunt's most 
popular song, however, was his celebrated Jingo 
ditty, by means of w^hich the great Macdermott 
stirred the patriotism of the people to the very 
depths, and brought the anti-Russian sentiment 
of the nation up to bubbling point. John Bull 
was in his most warlike mood at the time, and 
his smouldering feelings found free expression in 
the lines, — 

' We don't want to fight, but, by Jingo if we do, 
We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the 

money too. 
We've fought the Bear before, 
And while Britons shall be true 
The Russians shall not have Constantinople.' 



MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND TflEIR LYRICS 177 

The sensation created by this song at the time 
was something remarkable. It was sung at poli- 
tical and social gatherings throughout the land, 
and its notoriety extended beyond the Channel, 
where it was reprinted as a special supplement, 
with the music, by the Paris Figaro. 

George Ware, the agent, who in his time has 
played many parts, once held a conspicuous posi- 
tion among music-hall song writers. In this 
capacity he is likely to be best remembered as 
the author of ' The Whole Hog or None,' a song 
popularised by Mr E. W. Mackney, who has been 
singing it in every town in the United Kingdom 
for many years past. The first verse of this 
familiar ditty may be taken as a fair specimen 
of Mr Ware's quality. 

'Oh, white folks, I have just come down 

To ax you how you do ? 
And to tell you all the sights I've seen 

And all de facts dat's new. 
From east to west, from north to south 

I've picked up lots of fun, 

So now I'm here, I'm bound to go 

The whole hog or none. 
Oh, lor, gals, I wish I'd lots of money ; 

Charlestown is a mighty place, 

The folks they are so funny, 
And they all are bound to go the whole hog or none I ' 

Mr Fred Gilbert, who as a child appeared at 

the Adelphi Theatre when the late Paul Bedford 

was the leading comedian at that house, and 

was afterwards a chorister at Evans's celebrated 

M 



178 THE VARIETY STAGE 

rooms, has been the author of many popular 
ditties, his most recent success being * The Man 
Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.' Mr Gilbert 
also wrote ' Charlie Uilke ' for Mr George Macder- 
mott, as well as several other topical and political 
skits for the same singer. 

Among modern music-hall bards Mr Richard 
Morton has won for himself a position of great 
prominence. He wields a prolific and facile pen, 
and has scored numerous successes. It was as the 
author of the English version of the eternal ' Ta-ra 
ra-boom-de-ay ' that Mr Morton first sprang into 
popularity, but the position he acquired in connec- 
tion with the authorship of that phenomenal song 
he has well maintained by bright and clever work 
ever since. Of the Ta-ra-ra ditty, with its sensa- 
tional dance and its maddening refrain, there is 
nothing new to be said. Miss Lottie Collins, who 
brought the original version and melody over from 
America, sang the song for over two years, and in 
conjunction with the itinerant musicians from 
Italy, or rather Hatton Garden, nearly contrived 
to drive the peaceable inhabitants of Great Britain 
completely crazy. 

Another clever young song writer who for the 
past ten years or more has been supplying the 
principal stars with brilliant and original ditties, 
sketches and monologues, is Mr J. P. Harrington, 
whose work is characterised by more than the 
usual amount of literary ability and originality 



MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS 179 

displayed in the majority of music-hall songs. To 
the same category of writers belongs Mr Felix 
M'Glennon, the author of ' That is Love,' a really 
charming lyric, sung by Miss Marie Loftus, and 
' The Ship I Love,' a sentimental nautical ditty, 
admirably rendered by Mr Tom Costello, one of 
the foremost character vocalists the modern variety 
stage possesses. Other song writers of distinction 
calling for mention in this connection are Mr 
Joseph Tabrar, Mr Fred Bowyer, Mr H. C. Hud- 
son, Mr Norton Atkins, Mr E. W. Rogers, Mr 
Harry Dacre, the author of ' Daisy Bell,' Mr Alfred 
J. Morris, a lyric writer of conspicuous ability, and 
Mr Carl Howard, one of the youngest members of 
the same fraternity who is fast rising into promin- 
ence. 

Closely allied to the song writers, are the com- 
posers, although many authors combine the two 
functions, Mr Joseph Tabrar, Mr Felix M'Glennon 
and Mr Harry Dacre belong to the latter class. 

Among music-hall composers proper must be 
mentioned the late Herr Ferdinand Joughmann, 
who very properly heads the list, and the late Mr 
A. E. Durandeau. Mr Orlando Powell and Mr 
Fred Epplett are also very able representatives of 
the same class. One of the most popular music- 
hall composers of the day is Mr George Le Brunn, 
who produces with marvellous facility so many of 
the original and tuneful melodies which delight 
modern music-hall audiences. 



r8o THE VARIETY STAGE 

A young composer, too, who is fast making head- 
way in his profession, is Mr George Stratton, 
whose compositions are marked by much grace- 
fulness and power. 

It is a striking proof of the popularity of music- 
hall ditties, if, indeed, any proof were needed, that 
at least two large publishing houses are exclusively 
devoted to their printing and publication. Of 
these publishers, the firm of Charles Sheard & Com- 
pany is one of the oldest, and its catalogues con- 
tain many of the choicest repertoires of the old time 
favourites, besides those of a large number of 
popular variety artistes of the present day. Messrs 
Francis, Day & Hunter, which is an offshoot of 
the celebrated Mohawk Minstrels, is another well 
known firm closely identified with the music-hall 
publishing trade. At one time Messrs Hopwood 
& Crew, the well known publishers of New Bond 
Street, and Messrs D'Alcorn did a great deal of 
business in this line, but the trade has now passed 
into the hands mainly of the two first-named estab- 
lishments, although Messrs Reynolds and Messrs 
Howard also publish a considerable number of 
songs of this description. 

Within recent years the status of both author 
and composer has been considerably improved. 
At one time, the highest price paid for a song was 
ten shillings. Charles Sloman, a prolific song 
writer in his time, states that his price for songs 
was the last-mentioned sum, while he was prepared 



MUSIC-HALL BARDS AND THEIR LYRICS i8i 

to supply poems at the rate of five shillings for 
twenty lines, and threepence a line after, Now-a- 
days, a good song writer receives from one to five 
pounds for the singing rights alone of his work, 
while the royalties on the publishing, when he does 
not sell the song to the publishers outright, may 
reach to a very big amount. It is a usual custom 
in the profession for the singer, the author and the 
composer, to share all sums obtained from publica- 
tion, which, considering how much, in these cases, 
of the popularity of a song depends upon the 
singer, appears to be a very equitable arrange- 
ment. 



CHAPTER XI I 

CHAIRMEN, PAST AND PRESENT 

The ' Chair ' — Antiquity of the Office — Its Former Glories — 
The ' Old Guard ' — Celebrities of the Past — Rhodes — 
Caulfield — A Theatrical Family — Harrj' Fox — Gus Leach 
— Tom Norris — Fred Williams — Sam Sutton — W. B. 
Fair — Ralph Edgar— George Thurgood — 'Baron' Court- 
ney — Russell Grover — Harry Cavendish — Harry Vernon — 
The Lost Hammer— Actor— Vocalist — Chairman— Show- 
man — Tom Tinsley—' Young John Bull* — Harry Evans — 
Fred Law — Barry — His sad End. 

There have been many drastic changes wrought 
in music halls within the last decade, not the least 
marked, and, perhaps, not the least regrettable of 
which has been the disappearance of the ancient 
office of chairman. Time was when this function- 
ary held a position of almost unlimited potency 
and influence, and, seated at the head of his own 
particular table, surrounded by an admiring group 
of friends and cronies, and encircled in curling 
wreaths of smoke — like so much fragrant incense 
— swayed the destinies of the establishment over 
which he presided, and of the genius loci of which 
he was a sort of living embodiment But, Icha- 
bod ! his glory has departed ! The devastating 
finger of Time has been laid upon his throne, and 

182 



CHAIRMEN, PAST AND PRESENT 183 

the merry rap of his hammer resounds no more. 
His cheery presence and his pecuh"ar insignia of 
office have vanished into the ewigkeit. A few 
members of the old guard, it is true, still linger at 
their post, and manage to keep green the convivial 
memories of the past, but they are the scattered 
survivals of a race which is rapidly departing, and 
threatens to become soon as extinct as the very 
dodo. Where have they gone to, those jovial, 
ever-green sons of Bacchus and Apollo, whose 
festive humour, like their own ebullient nature^ 
seemed to renew itself nightly, and never grow 
dimmer? Echo, alas! answers where? And 
perhaps on the whole it would neither be kindly 
nor discreet to inquire further. 

John Rhodes, of the old Coal Hole, may fairly 
be regarded as the father of this ancient and 
illustrious race. He was a typical chairman, and 
few knew better how to wield the hammer than he. 
His influence at the table was magnetic, and his 
presence banished dull care in a flash. Like 
Falstaff, he was the cause of humour in others, and 
he could make the merry jest go round until the 
flight of time was unnoticed, and the company 
neither cared nor dared to ' look at the clock.' 
John Caul field, too, who died on the 24th of April 
1865, was another typical chairman. Brisk and 
cheery in manner, he possessed a fund of interest- 
ing anecdote, and was, moreover, a man of culture 
and ability. He was for some years an actor at 



i84 THE VARIETY STAGE 

the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, under Buckstone's 
management, and wrote several excellent songs. 
His wife, whose professional name was Miss 
Mattley, and his daughter, known on the stage as 
Lennox Grey, were both actresses of talent. The 
latter appeared at the Olympic during Robson and 
Emden's regime. Mr and Mrs Caulfield came to 
London about 1838, and made their first appear- 
ance at the City of London Theatre during Os- 
baldiston's lesseeship. Caulfield was for some 
time chairman at the Dr Johnson Concert-Room, 
and afterwards at the Oxford and Canterbury and 
Weston's Music Halls. 

Harry Fox, for many years associated with the 
fortunes of the old Mogul, was another chairman 
of the old school. His glowing countenace shone 
like a friendly beacon through the clouds of tobacco 
smoke which curled round his chair, and his rich, 
mellow voice was suggestive of unlimited ' moun- 
tain dew.' He could sing a comic song with ex- 
cellent effect, and was great in rustic ditties. Mr 
Gus Leach also filled the chair here for a number 
of years after parting with the Foresters', of which 
he was for some time proprietor. He is at the 
present time owner of an admirably conducted 
establishment at Hoxton, managed by his son. 
The present chairman at the Middlesex is Mr R. 
D. Lincoln, a gentleman who fulfils the arduous 
and exacting duties of his office with conspicuous 
ability. 



CHAIRMEN, PAST AND PRESENT 1S5 

Visitors to the Winchester in the sixties will 
recollect old Tom Norris, who for a long period 
was chairman at this establishment. Norris used 
to sit on a chair placed on the stage. A curtain 
was drawn round him, which he could withdraw 
when necessary-. But he usually sat enthroned 
and screened like some precious statue of Buddha. 
At Deacon's, Mr Fred Williams, the excellent 
sketch artiste, filled the chair for a couple of years, 
and, according to his own account, sowed the 
seeds of the chronic rheumatism from which he 
still suffers. At this establishment Mr Sam 
Sutton was chairman — and a good chairman too — 
for a period extending over twelve years. He at 
present fills a similar position at the Marylebone. 
Mr Sutton is one of those old music-hall hands 
who has learnt the alphabet of the variety stage 
from Alpha to Omega. Early in the seventies he 
was chairman at the Swiss Cottage, a sort of free- 
and-easy situated close to Victoria Park, where 
Charles Coborn made his start singing songs a la 
Arthur Lloyd. At this period Harry Rickards, 
who now owns one of the principal halls in Sydney, 
was proprietor, or part proprietor, of this establish- 
ment. After quitting the Swiss Cottage, where he 
had remained for about two years, Sutton started 
as a descriptive and characteristic vocalist at the 
Three Colts, a regular music hall, situated nearly 
opposite the first-named house. Among other 
well-known artistes who appeared at this hall from 



i86 THE VARIETY STAGE 

time to time may be mentioned George Ley- 
bourne, Charles Coborn, Harry Anderson and 
Fred Lay, whose father-in-law was proprietor of 
this hall for a short time. Mr Sutton's great effort 
was a fire scena, which was put on with special 
scenery at the Garrick Theatre, and was also 
staged at Astley's, Sadlers' Wells, and the Grecian. 
This popular vocalist also filled the chair at the 
Regent Music Hall in the Mile End Road, when 
Richards was proprietor, and occupied a similar 
position at the Regent Music Hall at Westminster^ 
during the proprietorship of Kesterton, a gentle- 
man who was at the same time actively engaged 
in the pickling business. Mr W. B. Fair, of 
'Tommy Make Room for Your Uncle' notoriety, 
filled the chair at the Marylebone for several years 
under the late Mr Botting, and was also for a 
couple of years manager and chairman at the 
Standard, and likewise occupied for a time the same 
position at the Royal, Holborn. Fair's great song 
brought him into sudden prominence. He sang it 
for a period of ten years, being frequently engaged 
at as many as six halls a night. With the money 
he made over this lucky hit he purchased the 
Winchester Music Hall, of which he was the last 
proprietor, from Mr Preece. The speculation, 
however, proved unfortunate, and Mr Fair lost a 
considerable sum over the business. 

Another good chairman at the Standard was 
Ralph Edgar, who occupied the post for some time. 



Cft AIRMEN, PAST AND PRESENT 187 

The most remarkable personage, however, who 
ever filled the chair here was George Thurgood, 
whose musical accomplishments were really marvel- 
lous. Thurgood would fill the place of any absent 
member of the orchestra at a moment's notice, 
and was equally at home with the trombone, the 
cornet, the violin, or the big drum. ' Baron ' 
Courtney, before referred to in these pages, and 
until recently chairman at the South London, a 
post which he occupied for upwards of fifteen 
years was another worthy member of his class. 

The chair of the London Pavilion has from 
time to time been filled by some worthy wielders 
of the hammer, Mr Russell Grover, a man of 
considerable musical attainments, and of whom 
we have had frequent occasion to refer to in the 
course of this history, heading the list. Grover 
was followed by the late Harry Cavendish, who 
could also sing a capital song, and was a rare 
favourite with the patrons of this hall as well as 
with the profession of which he was so worthy a 
representative. Harry Cavendish was followed by 
another Harry, to wit, Harry Vernon, who enjoys 
the distinction of having been the last chairman 
at this hall prior to the abolition of the office. 
Mr Vernon was previously for two years chairman 
at the Royal under Mr Sweasey's and Purkiss's 
proprietorship, and was accustomed to contribute 
the first turn. Occasionally, however, Harry 
Cavendish, then manager at this hall, would take 



1 88 THE VARIETY STAGE 

the place of his confrere and sing a couple of the 
good old English ditties he knew so well how 
to render. While Vernon was chairman at the 
Royal he had presented to him a handsome 
symbol of office in the shape of an ivory hammer. 
This souvenir was somehow mislaid or lost, but, 
by a strange coincidence, some short while ago 
attracted the attention of Mr Brill, the present 
proprietor of the hall, who found it exposed for 
sale. He promptly purchased it and restored it 
to the original owner — a graceful act, which it is 
needless to say was greatly appreciated by Mr 
Vernon. This gentleman has been connected 
with the music-hall profession for a period extend- 
ing over thirty years. At the age of eight he 
played at the old Victoria under the late Henry 
Forrester's management, and subsequently ap- 
peared in such extremes of the histrionic gamut 
as tragedy, burlesque, comedy and pantomime, 
besides appearing at most of the metropolitan 
music halls in both sentimental and comic 
vocalism. His speciality, however, has been the 
' show ' line, and in the capacity of showman he 
has introduced a number of interesting subjects to 
the public. Among others he has 'lectured' Jem 
Mace, Pooley Mace, Beach the Sculler, Farini's 
Live Whale, and the Giant Ulreck. 

At Collins's Mr John Read has occupied the 
chair for many years, and is one of the oldest 
members of his class still living. 



CHAIRMEN, PAST AND PRESENT 189 

Mr Tom Tinsley, the jovial chairman at Gatti's, 
Charing Cross, has done much to restore the 
waning glories of his office, and there are few 
men more deservedly popular than this excellent 
good fellow. Before ' passing the chair,' Mr 
Tinsley won some distinction for himself as a 
comic singer. His sturdy, thick-set figure earned 
for him the sobriquet of 'young John Bull.' 
Starting in the provinces, he worked his way up 
to town, where he was discovered by Mr Fred 
Gilbert, the agent, who speedily procured him 
an engagement at Weston's and Harwood's, thus 
enabling him to try his luck before typical East 
and West End audiences on the same evening. 
Mr Harry Evans was one of the earliest chairmen 
at this popular hall. He was here during the life 
time of the late Carlo Gatti, the founder, with 
whom he remained for fifteen years at the kindred 
establishment in the Westminster Bridge Road. 
Mr Fred Law and the late Mr W. H. Barry were 
also prominent and popular chairmen here. The 
last-named gentleman recently died very suddenly 
while returning home in a tramcar from one of 
the metropolitan hospitals, at which he was 
being treated as an out patient. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE 

A New Era — The Theatres of Varieties — The ' Upper Crust ' 
— Distinguished Patrons — The Empire, Leicester Square — 
Savile House — An Historic Spot — Its Changes — The Em- 
pire Promenade and the County Council — Mrs Ormiston 
Chant — ' Prudes on the Prowl ' — Litigation — Verdict of 
the Public — The Trocadero — The Old Argyll Rooms — R. 
Bignell — Sam Adams — H. J. Didcott and Chevalier — 
Death of Sam Adams — Sketch of His Career — The Tivoli 
— Charles Morton again — Angelo Asher — Vernon Dowsett 
— The Palace — Grand Opera — Sir Augustus Harris — ' G. 
A. S.' — Changes in the Directorate — The New Olympic 
— Wilson Barrett — Wilmot and ' Barnum's Beauty ' — Two 
Houses a Night — The London — Mr Barnes — Sadlers' 
Wells — Its Associations — Grimaldi and Phelps — ' Hot Cod- 
lins ' and Hamlet — The West London — The Old Maryle- 
bone — Bailey and Oliver — The Grand Hall, Clapham. 

The opening of the new Pavilion in 1884 may be 
said to have inaugurated a fresh area in music-hall 
history. It marked the final and complete sever- 
ance of the variety stage from its old associations 
of the tavern and the concert saloon from the sphere 
of which it had, year by year, been gradually but 
perceptibly departing. Hitherto the halls had 
borne unmistakable evidence of their origin, but 
the last vestiges of their old connections were now 
thrown aside, and they emerged in all the splendour 

190 



THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE 191 

of their new born glory. The highest efforts of the 
architect, the designer and the decorator were en- 
listed in their service, and the gaudy and tawdry 
music hall of the past gave place to the resplendent 
' theatre of varieties ' of the present day, with its 
classic exterior of marble and freestone, its lavishly- 
appointed auditorium and its elegant and luxurious 
foyers and promenades brilliantly illuminated by 
myriad electric lights. Hitherto the halls had 
been almost exclusively patronised by a class com- 
posed mainly, if not exclusively, of the lower and 
middle grade of society, that huge section of the 
public comprehensively summed up in the term 
' the people.' Now, however, wealth, fashions and 
ton became attracted to these handsome ' Palaces ' 
of amusement, and in the grand saloon of the West 
End halls the most prominent and distinguished 
representative of art, literature and the law mingled 
nightly with city financiers, lights of the sporting 
and dramatic world, and a very liberal sprinkling 
of the ' upper crust,' as represented by the golden 
youth of the period. 

To the new order of variety halls belong, with vari- 
ous others, the palatial Empire in Leicester Square, 
the Trocadero (now unfortunately gone over to the 
majority), the Tivoli in the Strand, and the Palace 
in Cambridge Circus. Prior to the erection of these 
establishments, however, there arose, in the region of 
Westminster, a huge building devoted more or less, 
but if anything rather more than less to entertain- 



192 THE VARIETY STAGE 

ments of the variety order. This was the Royal 
Aquarium, erected on the north side of Tothill 
Street by a public company, with Mr De Pinna at 
its head. Captain Molesworth aftervvards became 
managing director, and at the present time Mr Joshia 
Ritchie occupies with ability that position. It was 
built in 1875-6 from the design of Mr Bedborough, 
in the classical style, and constructed of red brick and 
Portland stone, with an arched roof of glass similar 
in general plan to that of the Crystal Palace, from 
which, however, it differs widely in details. It is 
two storeys in height, and contains in the base- 
ment a great central tank of salt and fresh water, 
holding no less than six hundred gallons. On the 
ground floor at the eastern end is a large vestibule 
or ante-chamber leading to the central hall or 
promenade, and containing a series of table tanks 
for the reception of fish of the 'small fry' order. 
The main attraction here, however, is neither 
whale nor zoophyte, but the admirable variety and 
special shows which take place at stated periods 
throughout the day and evening — Pongo, the 
' missing link ' ; Succi, the fasting man ; Zazel, and 
a whole race of giants, pigmies, monstrosities and 
other novelties have long vied with the leading 
variety stars in capping the list of special and 
peculiar attractions to be seen here at all seasons 
of the year. But all other quondam attractions at 
the Aquarium have been eclipsed by the success 
of Zaeo, the handsome lady whose graceful and 



THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE 193 

daring gymnastic feats caused a great excitement 
in 1890 and 1891. This performer secured much 
advertisement by the absurd action of certain 
members of the then newly formed London County 
Council, 

The Empire Theatre of Varieties opened its 
doors on December 21st, 1887, occupying the 
ground once covered by Savile House. The Em- 
pire, like its neighbouring rival, the Alhambra, has 
an interesting and variegated past. Savile House, 
after passing through many fluctuations of fortune, 
during which it had been a royal residence, an 
exhibition gallery and a species of cafe cka?itajit, 
was destroyed by fire in March 1865. On the day 
succeeding this event an offer was made for the 
site, with a view to erecting a theatre upon it, by 
Mr John Hollingshead, supported by the late Dion 
Boucicault and others. The owners, however, 
according to the first-mentioned gentleman, were 
too exacting, and the place remained in ruins for 
about fourteen years, when the Denmark Theatre 
was projected. A similar project was the Alcazar 
Theatre of Mr Alexander Henderson. After this 
the place was handed over to a French panorama 
Company, who erected a circular building and ex- 
hibited a picture of Balaclava. Then followed the 
Pandora, another theatrical project which did not 
reach the completed stage, although the building 
of the theatre was actually begun. Mr Nicols, the 
well-known proprietor of the Caf(^ Royal, however, 

N 



194 THE VARIETY STAGE 

now came on the scene as mortgagee in possession, 
and in due course the Empire Theatre, promoted by 
a Limited Liability Company, came into existence. 
Mr D. Nicols is one of the principal directors of 
this establishment, and his co-directors are Mr 
Hector Tennent, Mr Walter Dickson, Mr J. C. 
Collier, and Mr George Edwardes. Sir Augustus 
Harris, it should be mentioned, was one of the 
organisers of the present Empire, the staff of which 
comprises Mr H. J. Hitchens (who has been 
manager of the theatre ever since its foundation), 
Mr C. D, Slater, the courteous and genial acting 
manager, and Mr Conlan the secretary. 

The Empire commenced its career as a theatre 
proper, in which character it produced the comic 
opera of Chilperic, several Gaiety burlesques, the 
ballet of Coppelia, and the grand English opera 
The Lady of the Locket. 

Its career as a theatre, however, was as unpros- 
perous as its subsequent record as a variety house 
has been the reverse. The ballets and spectacular 
pieces produced here have been particularly popular 
and successful, and the shareholders' dividend has 
shown each year a progressively gratifying result. 
One of the distinguishing features of this house 
has been its magnificent promenade, which, just 
before the licensing sessions of 1894, attracted the 
attention of Mrs Ormiston Chant and several other 
ladies and gentlemen, who opposed the licence on 
the ground that this particular part of the house 



THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE 195 

was made a rendezvous for the purposes of solici- 
tation by women of an improper character. The 
County Council therefore refused to grant the 
licence, except on the condition of the abolition 
of the offending feature, and the partitioning off 
of the refreshment bars. The directors appealed 
against this decision, and raised a technical issue 
in one of the superior courts, which ruled that, 
under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the 
Council had exceeded their jurisdiction. The 
majority of the press and public on that occasion 
sided with the Empire management, and Mrs 
Chant and her friends came in for a considerable 
amount of popular opprobrium. The comic papers 
made abundant capital out of the subject, and this 
worthy lady, whose conduct, however ill-advised, 
was undoubtedly inspired by the worthiest motives, 
found herself satirised in the form of grotesque pic- 
torial sketches, rhyming lampoons, and in the 
following November had the distinction of figur- 
ing as one of the principal ' guys ' of the year. 

The Trocadero, in Windmill Street, Piccadilly, 
was erected on the site of the old Argyll Rooms, 
a famous casino, which lost its music and dancing 
licence on the 30th of November 1878. Mr Richard 
Bignell, the proprietor of the former assembly 
rooms, was the first proprietor of this handsome 
little hall, which he ran with varying success down 
to the date of his death. In July 1889 the late Mr 
Sam Adams, in partnership with Mr C. J. Bayliss, 



196 THE VARIETY STAGE 

took over the hall. The venture, however, did not 
prove so prosperous as was anticipated, nor was 
the partnership so amicable as could have been 
desired. Accordingly, on the 23d of July 1893, the 
property was submitted to auction at the Mason's 
Hall Tavern in Basinghall Street, coming under the 
hammer of Messrs Henshaw, Beard & Watts, the 
well-known auctioneers. The bidding, which started 
at £'J<)00 slowly reached ;^9 5 00, and the reserve price 
of ;^ 1 0,000 not having been attained, the lot was 
called in. Subsequently the property was disposed 
of to Mr H. J. Didcott, by whom it was opened in 
October 1893, ^'^^ who for some time ran the hall 
in conjunction with Mr Albert Chevalier, * the 
Costers' Laureate ' of course filling the somnolent 
office of sleeping partner. The hall, nevertheless, 
again closed its doors in 1894, and at the time of 
writing it is contemplated converting it into a 
superior class restaurant, when 'entertainment,' 
in the original sense of the word, will be sup- 
plied to hungry mortals in search of gastronomic 
fare. 

The Trocadero was the last enterprise of poor 
Sam Adams, who, after a varied and eventful 
career, expired of pneumonia at his residence in 
St John's Road, Brixton, at ten o'clock on the 
morning of June ist, 1893. This popular gentle- 
man, who had played so prominent a part in the 
making of music-hall history, was born at Hertford 
in October 1835. His father was a member of the 



THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE 197 

firm of Adams & Company, the well-known bankers 
of Ware and Hertford, and was in addition one of 
the largest malsters in the country. It was in the 
latter line that Mr Sam Adams began his career, 
and gained the knowledge of business which stood 
him in such good stead in after years. As pre- 
viously detailed, it was at the Philharmonic that he 
first blossomed into music-hall proprietorship, and 
after disposing of this house in 1870 to Mr Charles 
Head, he came further west, and joined Mr J. S. 
Sweasey at the Royal. He remained at this estab- 
lishment till 1878, when he moved to the London 
Pavilion as manager for Mr Loibl — a position which 
he continued to occupy under Mr Villiers until the 
rebuilding of the new Pavilion, He then returned 
to the Royal, in which he held one half share : Mr 
Purkiss possessing the other moiety. This partner- 
ship continued for a year, when the partners sold 
the business to the Limited Liability Company 
which preceded the present proprietorate. Mr Sam 
Adams was retained as managing director down 
to February 1889, when, in consequence of a differ- 
ence with his fellow-directors, he resigned his posi- 
tion. Mr Adams was buried in the pretty little 
cemetery at Norwood, a very large and representa- 
tive circle of professional and private friends accom- 
panying the body to its last resting-place. Mr 
Adams's daughter. Miss Ada Blanche, and his son, 
Mr Bert Adams, are both members of the profes- 
sion which their father served so well and so long, 



198 THE VARIETY STAGE 

and among which it is safe to say he had not a 
single enemy. 

The year 1890 saw the erection in the Strand, 
on the site of the Tivoli Lager Beer Restaurant 
and several adjoining premises, of the Tivoli Music 
Hall, now one of the most conspicuous features 
of that historic thoroughfare. In spite of its ex- 
cellent situation, however, and the heavy expendi- 
ture of capital which had been made by the 
Company, the Tivoli earned but small dividends 
for its shareholders until the management was 
placed in the hands of Mr Charles Morton, who, 
to use a city phrase, speedily ' pulled ' the concern 
through. This was the turn of the tide of its 
fortune, happily taken at the flood, and since that 
time it has ranked high in the favour and patronage 
of London audiences. Mr Angelo Asher has been 
the musical director of the Tivoli since its re-open- 
ing, and nightly sways with his baton one of the 
most efficient orchestras in town. 

In August 1893, Mr Vernon Dowsett, an able 
and experienced administrator, succeeded Mr 
Morton as manager, the last-named gentleman 
having resigned in order to take up a similar 
position at the Palace Theatre of Varieties, Cam- 
bridge Circus, the failing fortunes of which he had 
been called in to revive. 

The Palace Theatre was originally built by Mr 
D'Oyly Carte for the purpose of grand English 
opera, and its opening night, on the nth December 



THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE 199 

1892, will be memorable as the occasion of the 
production of Ivanhoe, an opera by Sir Arthur 
Sullivan, founded on Sir Walter Scott's popular 
romance of that name. This was the first operatic 
collaboration that Sir Arthur had undertaken since 
his regrettable split with ' W. S.,' and occasioned 
great interest. This splendid building was de- 
stined by fate to quite a different end to that 
contemplated by its original promoters, and after 
several futile attempts to woo the fickle goddess, 
it was ultimately handed over to a reorganised 
Company, with Sir Augustus Harris and Mr George 
Augustus Sala at the helm. This Company was 
at first hardly more prosperous than its prede- 
cessor, and was compelled to undergo reconstruc- 
tion and a complete change of policy, in the 
course of which Sir Augustus retired from the 
directorate, before it succeeded in gaining any 
hold upon the great body of the public. Under 
the shrewd and discerning management of Mr 
Morton, however, it immediately began to make 
headway in public favour, and is at present ad- 
mittedly one of the largest, finest and most flourish- 
ing variety theatres in the west end. 

On the 4th of December 1890, the New Olympic 
Theatre was opened by Mr Wilson Barrett and Air 
Wilmot, as lessees, and dedicated with the usual 
flourish of trumpets to the ser\'ice of Melpomene. 
The house, however, which had arisen out of the 
ashes of the old Olympic, and was therefore rich 



200 THE VARIETY STAGE 

in memories of Vestris, Robson and other his- 
trionic associations, was compelled to meet the 
changed requirements of the time, and after the 
failures of several successive theatrical ventures, the 
place was converted into a music hall, and on 
August 7th, 1893, within the portals of the temple 
sacred to her more serious sister, Terpsichore now- 
reigned supreme. This state of affairs continued, 
however, but for a period of three months, and on 
the 30th of the October following the house was 
again closed. After a further interval of theatrical 
enterprise it was once more converted into a variety 
establishment on the ' two houses a night ' principle 
by Messrs Belmont & Wilmot. In this form it was 
opened in 1894, but at the time of writing it is again 
devoted to the service of the legitimate drama. 

Of the suburban halls there are two or three 
that should be mentioned. The present Parthenon, 
at Greenwich, now owned and managed by Mr 
Hurley, was originally opened on October 28th, 
1 87 1, by Mr C. S. Crowder. Then there is the 
Varieties at Hammersmith, of which Mr Acton 
Phillips and his son are the proprietors ; and the 
Peckham Varieties, better known as Lovejoy's, 
after the name of its popular proprietor. 

In December 1892, the London Music Hall, 
Shoreditch, was opened by Mr Barnes, the former 
manager of Collins's, and a new and important 
addition was made to the long list of variety 
establishments in the east end. 



THE MODERN VARIETY STAGE 201 

The fashion of converting unsuccessful theatres 
into popular music halls had not ran its day, and 
in November 1893, the old Sadlers' Wells Theatre, 
where Grimaldi had sung ' Hot Codlins ' and 
' Tippettywitchet,' and Phelps impersonated the 
immortal creations of the ' divine Will,' was given 
up to the service of song and dance. Mr 
George Belmont, who rejoices in the cognomen of 
* Barnum's Beauty,' and whose skill in the com- 
pilation of alliterative advertisements is simply 
marvellous, rules the destinies of this establish- 
ment in its present form. 

Another London theatre which within recent times 
has been converted into the ubiquitous variety 
theatre — drama, pantomime, comedy, ballet, farce, 
and varieties — is the old Marylebone — originally the 
Pavilion Theatre in Church Street, Edgware Road. 
Under the style of the West London, this estab- 
lishment, newly decorated and upholstered, was 
opened on Saturday the ist of April 1893 by 
Messrs Bailey & Oliver, the former a gentleman 
who had long filled the position of chairman and 
manager at the neighbouring Metropolitan. The 
latest addition to metropolitan halls has been the 
Grand, in the vicinity of Clapham Junction, which 
was opened under the proprietorship of a small 
syndicate of well-known music-hall gentlemen 
in November 1894, and which has so far met 
with a gratifying reception from residents in the 
surrounding; districts. 



CHAPTER XIV 

LEGISLATURE AND THE HALLS 

The Law and the Halls — An Arid but Important Subject — The 
Magistrate — The First Licensing Body — 25 George II. — 
No Matinees — The Theatres Registry Act — Stage Plays — 
A Bone of Contention — Trade Rivalry — Hodge-Podge — 
The Alhambra and the Act — Whereas the Police ? — 
The Committee of 1866 — Its Resolutions — Sundry Acts 
— The County Council — The Committee of 1892 — Qui 
Bono ? 

Except to the favoured few, legal matters possess 
little or no attraction, and many who have accom- 
panied the writers in their historical peregrinations 
so far will perhaps feel inclined to follow the ex- 
ample of certain committee gentlemen, and take 
the present chapter as ' read.' But, as Mr Paulton 
sings, ' there are others.' To music-hall pro- 
prietors, managers and artistes — and especially to 
sketch artistes — the subject is endowed with special 
and peculiar interest. A work of the present scope, 
moreover, would hardly be complete did it not deal 
in a more or less exhaustive manner with the im- 
portant and active relations which exist between 
the legislature and the halls. In treating on this 
necessarily arid subject, however, the writers will 

202 



LEGISLATURE AND THE HALLS 203 

endeavour to be as explicit and succinct as the 
matter will allow. If they fail in the latter re- 
spect, however, they will have the satisfaction of 
knowing that they err in excellent company, for 
on this same subject the learned pundits who 
make our laws and the bewigged gentlemen who 
expound them are, to use a convenient colloqui- 
alism, altogether at 'sixes and sevens.' It is, 
indeed, a tangled skein to unravel, and one from 
the meshes of which it is not easy to extricate 
oneself with either credit or satisfaction. 

The music halls originally derived their privi- 
leges from the magistrates acting under the 2 5 
of George II., a statute which was passed in the 
year 175 1 to enable this body to license houses 
for music, dancing and public entertainments after 
five o'clock P.M. Under this Act, the magistrates 
had power to take away the licence for ever of 
any establishment opening its doors for a public 
entertainment before that hour, and it was not 
until the year 1866 that the Lord Chamberlain, 
acting under the powers reserved in the Act of 
George II., at the instigation of the proprietors 
of the concert-rooms and similar places, granted 
special permission for the performance of matinees. 

The next enactment affecting the variety stage 
was the passing of the Theatres Registry Act, 1843, 
6 and 7 Victoria. Under this Act no theatre within 
the metropolis was permitted to put on a stage 
play which was defined to include a tragedy, farce, 



204 THE VARIETY STAGE 

opera, burletta, prelude, interlude, pantomime, or 
other entertainment of the style, or any part there- 
of, without being first duly licensed by the Lord 
Chamberlain. This clause has been a bone of 
contention between theatrical proprietors and the 
proprietors of music halls ever since the Act was 
placed upon the Statute Book, and has given rise 
to interminable litigation and undying controversy 
between these two classes of public entertainers. 
Under this Act a dramatic performance — or any- 
thing which can be construed into the nature of 
a dramatic performance on the music-hall stage — 
renders the proprietor liable to be mulcted in a 
penalty of ;^20 per night, and lays at the same 
time each individual performer open to a simi- 
larly heavy fine. 

Theatrical proprietors have been particularly 
jealous of their privileges in this respect, and 
although within recent years they have, under 
compulsion of public and official opinion, dis- 
played a greater tolerance towards their rivals, 
the latter are still amenable to the Act in question, 
and at the present day there is hardly a music hall 
the programme at which does not contain one or 
two features which only need the usual formal in- 
formation to be laid against the proprietor to inflict 
upon the latter the drastic penalties imposed by the 
statute. In the earlier days of music-hall history, 
however, the same sullen leniency was not affected, 
and the law reports at that time bristle with actions 



LEGISLATURE AND THE HALLS 205 

instigated and carried on in a spirit of petty jealousy 
and competitive spite. 

As an instance, culled from among many others 
which occurred in various parts of the metropolis 
and provinces, may be cited the case of Mr Charles 
Morton and his shadow pantomime. 

On the 2nd of February 1865, Mr Robert applied 
at the Lambeth Police Court, before the Honour- 
able G. C. Norton, for a summons against the Oxford 
and Canterbury Music Hall Company, Limited, for 
a violation of the Act 6-'] Victoria, chap. 68, in 
performing the shadow pantomime Hodge-Podge, 
or Butterfly's Christmas Party, a sketch presented 
at the Canterbury Hall. The application, which 
was made on behalf of the proprietors of Her 
Majesty's Theatre, Drury Lane, the Lyceum, the 
Haymarket, Adelphi, Astley's and the Olympic, 
although taken out by Mr Chatterton on behalf 
of his brother lessees, ended in a decision for the 
defendant with mitigated damages, and Mr Morton 
was obliged to withdraw the pantomime sketch, 
which the magistrate himself admitted was an 
admirable, and morally speaking, irreproachable 
performance. 

With the ballet taken from L' Enfant Prodigue, 
and produced at the Alhambra about the same 
time, the subject was again raised, and excited the 
combined opposition of metropolitan managers, 
conspicuous amongst whom were the late Ben- 
jamin Webster and Horace Wigan. The burning 



2o6 THE VARIETY STAGE 

question was by no means satisfactorily solved. 
It was held that the ballet was not proved to be 
a * stage play ' within the meaning of the Act, a 
decision due in all probability, such is the subtlety 
of the law, to the word divertissement having 
been appended to the description of the ballet. 
The Alhambra management, however, with Mr 
John Hollingshead — ' practical John ' — at its head 
decided to test the business further. A panto- 
mimic sketch entitled, not inappropriately, Where's 
the Police ? was produced, with Messrs D'Auban, 
Warde, F. Evans, Miss Warde and Mrs Evans 
in the role of harlequin, columbine, pantaloon, 
clown and sprite. The inevitable summons was 
issued, and the case was in due course heard at 
Marlborough Street. The decision of the magis- 
trates, however, was this time against the manage- 
ment, who appealed to the Judge at Quarter 
Sessions, when the appeal was dismissed, and 
the full penalty, amounting to ;^240 and costs, 
inflicted. 

These and many similar cases gave rise to an 
agitation which resulted in the first parliamentary 
committee on the subject. This committee began 
its sittings on Tuesday, March 13th, 1866, the 
sessions extending to the 4th of the May following. 
Mr Goschen occupied the chair, and among the 
members of the committee were Lord Eustace 
Cecil, Lord Ernest Bruce, Sir Arthur Buller, 
and Colonel Sturt. The witnesses called were 



LEGISLA TURK AND THE HALLS 207 

Frederick Strange of the Alhambra, Frederick 
Stanley of the Oxford and Canterbury, Benjamin 
Webster, Buxton, Dion Boucicault, Shirley Brookes, 
Horace Wigan, Tom Taylor, Nelson, and John 
Hollingshead. 

After many adjourned deliberations, the com- 
mittee adopted and recommended to the con- 
sideration of the House of Commons the following 
resolutions : — 

As to the metropolis. 

(i.) That the present system of double juris- 
diction, under which theatres are licensed 
by the Lord Chamberlain, and music halls 
and other places of public entertainment 
by the magistrates, is inconvenient and 
unsatisfactory. 

(2.) That the power of licensing of * any house, 
room, garden, or other places occupied for 
public dancing, music or other public 
entertainment of the like kind,' hitherto 
vested in the magistrates by the Act 25 
George H. c. 36, sections 2 and 3, be trans- 
ferred to the same authority which 
may be empowered to grant licences to 
theatres, so that the entire regulation of 
theatres, music halls and other places of 
public entertainment be placed under 
one authority. 



2o8 THE VA RIE TY STAGE 

(3.) That such power of licensing could not be 
efficiently exercised by a subordinate 
authority, and that it is therefore desir- 
able that it should be placed in the hands 
of an officer of high position and dignity. 

(4.) That it is desirable that the department of 
the Lord Chamberlain be so organised 
as to be able to deal with all such 
places of public entertainment within 
the metropolis. 

(5.) That it is desirable that any Act of Parlia- 
ment dealing with the licensing of theatres, 
music halls and other places of entertain- 
ment should render compulsory the in- 
spection and survey of such places as 
regards the stability of structure, due 
security against fire, ventilation and 
facility of ingress and egress, and that the 
authority to whom the licensing may be 
entrusted be required to form regulations 
from time to time for ensuring the safety 
and accommodation of the public, which 
regulations should receive the sanction of 
the Secretary of State, and be laid upon 
the table of the House of Com- 
mons. 

(6.) That apart from the question whether an 
identical form of licence should or should 
not be given to theatres and music halls, 
it is not desirable to continue the restric- 



LEGISLATURE AND THE HALLS 209 

tions which prevent music halls from giv- 
ing theatrical entertainments. 

(7.) That there should be different forms of 
licence, (i) where intoxicating drinks, 
refreshments and tobacco may be con- 
sumed in the auditorium of the build- 
ing ; (2) where intoxicating drinks, re- 
freshments and tobacco may not be 
consumed. 

(8.) That the control which the Lord Cham- 
berlain now exercises over the perform- 
ances in theatres should be extended to 
other places of entertainment for which 
licences may be required. 

(9.) That the censorship of plays has worked 
satisfactorily, and that it is not desirable 
that it should be discontinued. On the 
contrary, that it should be extended as 
far as practicable to the performances in 
music halls and other places of public 
entertainment. 

(10.) That it is desirable that when application 
is made for a licence for a theatre, music 
hall, or other similar place of entertain- 
ment, the applicant should be required to 
furnish such security as shall be satisfac- 
tory to the licensing authority, not exceed- 
ing j^ , and satisfactory evidence as to 
their respectability, as to the fitness of the 
building for which it is intended, and as 
o 



2io THE VARIETY STAGE 

to the convenience of the site ; and that in 
the event of such evidence being satis- 
factory, the licence should be granted 
without reference to any question of 
competition with other establishments. 

(ii.) That the decision of the Lord Chamber- 
lain should be subject to an appeal to 
the Home Secretary as far as the original 
granting of the licence is concerned. 

(i2.) That the provisions for enforcing the 
proper working of the Act of 25 George 
II. c. 36, relative to the licensing of music 
halls are insufficient and unsatisfactory, 
as there is no legal authority under which 
the police can take direct proceedings 
against unlicensed houses in which music 
and dancing are going on, although they 
are empowered to deal summarily with 
the cases of unlicensed theatrical enter- 
tainments. 
(13.) That it is desirable to repeat the 7th 
clause of the Act 5 and 6 William IV. c. 
39, which empowers the Excise to grant 
beer and spirit licences to all buildings 
licensed by the Lord Chamberlain or the 
Justices. 

As far as relates to the coimtry. 

(14.) That it is desirable that the licensing of 
a new theatre should be by the Lord 



LEGISLATURE AND THE HALLS 211 

Chamberlain instead of as heretofore by 
the magistrates, but that the powers now 
exercised by the magistrates, both as 
regards the renewal of licences and as 
regards regulations, should continue in 
force. 

(15.) That it is desirable that the proprietors 
of music halls and other similar places 
should be required to apply to the magis- 
trates for licences under the same or 
similar provisions to those which may be 
indicated relative to similar places of 
entertainment in the metropolis. 

(16.) That the 2nd section of the Act 6 and 7 
Victoria, c. 68, relative to the censorship of 
plays intended to be produced or acted 
for hire in any theatre in Great Britain 
continue in force, and that such censorship 
be extended as far as practicable to music 
halls and other places of public entertain- 
ment throughout Great Britain. 

The Metropolis Management and Building Act 
Amendments 'Act, 1878, provided, with respect to 
new theatres and places of public entertainment, 
that the Metropolitan Board of Works might frame 
such regulations as to position and structure as 
might be necessary for the protection of the public 
frequenting the same against danger from fire, and 
it was made unlawful for any person to open a new 



212 THE VARIETY STAGE 

theatre or place of entertainment until the Board 
had granted a certificate that the building was in 
accordance with the regulations. The Act further 
directed with respect to theatres and music halls 
which were in existence at the passing of the Act, 
that if the Board were of opinion that any building 
was so defective in its structure that there was 
special danger from fire, the Board might, with the 
consent of the Lord Chamberlain in the case of 
theatres under his jurisdiction, and of the Secretary 
of State in other cases, require the owner to make 
such alterations in the building as might be neces- 
sary to remove the defect, provided that such 
defect could be remedied in a moderate expendi- 
ture. Additional powers of control were also given 
to the Board by the 45th section of the Various 
Powers Act of 1882. In 1888 the powers vested in 
justices as regards theatres and music halls were by 
the Local Government Act of that year transferred 
to the County Council. 

The County Council has, strange to say, never 
been particularly well disposed towards the halls, 
and the latter very soon found out that in the 
Council they had to deal with a fresh and powerful 
enemy. The position taken up by the County 
Council in regard to sketches and other matters 
led to a fresh agitation on the part of the artistes 
particularly concerned, and on the 2d of June 
1892 another select committee of the House of 
Commons sat to consider the matter. Among the 



LEGISLATURE AND THE HALLS 213 

witnesses called on this occasion were Messrs 
James Lawrence Graydon, George Conquest, John 
Hare, Edward Terry, Lionel Brough, John Hol- 
lingshead, Henry Newson-Smith, William Archer, 
Arthur Swanborough and Clement Scott. 

This committee advocated arbitration on appeal 
from the licensing body to a standing arbitrator 
permanently attached to Her Majesty's Office of 
Works, and under the general direction of the 
First Commissioner, who should be answerable to 
Parliament for his action. It also considered that 
the County Council should have a staff of fit and 
proper persons to act as inspectors of the safety of 
places of public entertainment. It did not, how- 
ever, concur in the recommendation of the Councils 
that the latter should be the licensing authority for 
all theatres within the administrative county of 
London, but recommended the extinction of tiie~ 
Lord Chamberlain's authority to licence all those 
theatres within the county of London which are 
now outside the limit of his jurisdiction. 

But the committee did not see its way to 
endorse the resolutions adopted by the County 
Council, that the latter should have power to 
summon witnesses on oath, and that the ordinary 
privilege of a court of law should attach to their 
proceedings. It decided, however, in favour of 
three species of licence, one for theatres proper, 
where smoking and drinking would not be per- 
mitted in the auditorium, one for those music 



214 THE VARIETY STAGE 

halls which are now sometimes called theatres 
of varieties, and one for concert and dancing- 
rooms. It also recommended that all licences 
should be granted on the same day, and that the 
licensing authority should have power to grant 
occasional licences. 

In spite of these special committees the old Act 
of George II. still remains unrepealed in all its 
hideous incongruity, and the only benefits that 
have resulted so far from these prolonged commis- 
sions have been a couple of ponderous, albeit 
interesting. Blue Books. 



CHAPTER XV 

POPULAR ARTISTES OF TO-DAY 

Diversity of the Profession — Difficulty of Classification — Anec- 
dote in Point — The Conjurer and the Compiler — The 
Comic Vocalist — Dan Leno — His Quaint Characterisations 
and Patter — Herbert Campbell — Tom Costello — Harry 
Randall — James Fawn — Tom Bass — Charles Coborn — ^J. 
C. Rich — Little Tich — Descriptive Singers — Arthur 
Coombes — Leo Dryden — Alf Chester — George Leyton 
— Charles Godfrey — His Dramatic Ability — Humble 
Beginning — 15s. to ;^ioo a Week — His First 
Success — On Guard — Arthur Roberts — Arthur Corney 
—Austin Rudd— Chirgwin— « The White-Eyed Kaffir' 
— Negro Entertainers — Eugene Stratton — 'The 
WTiistling Coon ' — Brown, Newland and Leclerq — 
R. G. Knowles — Fish and Warren — Albert Chevalier — 
Gus Elen — Other ' Stars ' — The Ventriloquist — Lieutenant 
Cole — Mimics — Medley to Cissie Loftus — Sketch Artistes 
— Fred Williams — Keegan and Elvin — Acrobats and 
Troupes — Pantomimists — Paul Martinetti — The Boisset 
Troupe — Serio-Comics — Marie Lloyd — Jenny Hill — Katie 
Lawrence — Nellie Richards — Ada Reeve — Lottie Collins 
— Harriet Vernon — Dancers — Ida Heath — Marie Leyton 
— Loie Fuller. 

The apparently endless diversity of talent to be 
found within the ranks of the music-hall profession 
to-day is one of its most prominent and peculiar 
features. 

It is a variety world in all sooth, and the 
intrepid individual who would attempt to classify 

215 



2i6 THE VARIETY STAGE 

its members according to their special genre would 
have before him a task, the limit and complexity 
of which it would not be easy to estimate. 

There is a story told of an earnest and con- 
scientious young man who was instructed by a 
firm of theatrical publishers to compile a directory 
of music-hall artistes, with a special section for 
each line of business. It took him a long time to 
master the nice distinctions existing between 'vocal' 
comedians, ' characteristic ' artistes, and ' actor ' 
vocalists, and when he had overcome that difficulty 
he had to contend with a whole host of bewildering 
'specialities,' including 'funambulists,' 'eccentrics,' 
' knockabouts,' ' high-kickers,' and others who, in 
very despair of acquiring a suitable designation, 
styled themselves ' nondescripts.' He struggled 
on manfully with the work, however, until a pro- 
fessor of legerdemain whom he had inadvertently 
described as a conjurer, instead of ' prestidigitateur 
and illusionist ' withdrew his advertisement. Then 
the publishers wrote a snubbing letter to the com- 
piler, who finally threw up the work in despair. 

But although in its very nature the general form 
of music-hall entertainment is necessarily hetro- 
geneous, and subject to complete and continuous 
changes, there is one particular feature which 
varies only in kind and degree, and that is its 
comic vocalism. This has ever constituted the 
main strength and attraction of its programme, 
and the position of a comic singer in consequence 



POPULAR ARTISTES OF TO-DAY 217 

is usually one of considerable prominence and im- 
portance. 

In this connection the name of Mr Dan Leno at 
once suggests itself. Mr Leno is an artiste, who, 
in his own peculiar line, is inimitable. His quaint 
conception of character, sly humour, and inex- 
haustible flow of funny patter are all his own, and 
his appearance before the footlights is invariably 
the signal for general and irrepressible laughter on 
the part of his audiences. 

Mr Herbert Campbell, whose real name by-the- 
way is Story, and who commenced his career at 
small temperance halls in Clerkenwell, is another 
popular favourite, and a genuine possessor of the 
vis comica. His name has for many years been 
familiar to London audiences, and his distinctly 
comic creations are as varied as they are numerous. 
Mr Tom Costello, Mr Harry Randall, Mr James 
Fawn, Mr Tom Bass, Mr Charles Coborn and Mr 
J. C. Rich are other artistes in the same line who 
have won distinction for themselves by sheer force 
of artistic merit. In the same category too must 
be mentioned Mr Charles Bignell, Mr Arthur 
Lennard, Mr Harry Pleon, Mr Tom Leamore and 
Mr Arthur Rigby. ' Little Tich,' despite his diminu- 
tive stature, is one of the drollest artistes on the 
music-hall stage, and is in receipt of one of the 
largest salaries ever paid in the profession. 
Among descriptive vocalists Mr Arthur Coombes, 
Mr Leo Dryden, Mr Alf Chester and Mr George 



2i8 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Leyton occupy conspicuous positions, but the 
originator and foremost exponent of the dramatic 
scena is undoubtedly Mr Charles Godfrey, whose 
patriotic and sentimental songs are rendered with 
a dramatic force and treatment rarely met with on 
the boards of the variety stage. Mr Godfrey is 
a sympathetic and conscientious artiste, and all 
his vocal and histrionic efforts bear the stamp of 
high conceptive power, combined with a keen 
knowledge of life and character. Like many other 
members of his calling, Mr Godfrey began his 
career at the lowest rung of the professional 
ladder, with a weekly salary of fifteen shillings. 
For this handsome stipend, which he received at 
the Elephant and Castle Theatre, he played as 
many as thirteen parts a week, besides officiating 
as super and ballet-master. During his conection 
with the music-hall stage he has received as much 
as ;^ioo for the same period. Mr Godfrey was 
not long in making his way to the front. The 
first of his many successful monologues was On 
Guards which he produced at the Paragon with the 
most beautiful and elaborate stage effects which 
had so far been attempted. Since then he has 
entertained London and provincial audiences with 
a long list of similar dramatic scenas, the most 
notable of which has been the Seven Ages of Man, 
The Golden Wedding, After the Ball, Nelson, and 
The Armada. 
Among eccentric vocalists Mr Arthur Roberts 



POP ULA R AR TIS TES OF TO- DA V 219 

has so far been unexcelled, but this gentleman has 
now seceded from the halls to the more congenial 
sphere of comic opera and burlesque. Among 
artistes of the same school may be mentioned Mr 
Arthur Corney and Mr Austin Rudd. Mr George 
Robey, Mr George Beauchamp, Mr Will Crackles, 
Mr Charles Deane and Mr Jake Graham are each 
eccentric and character vocalists of creative ability. 
The operatic element which still lingers in latter 
day programmes is worthily represented by such 
able vocalists as Miss Lucy Clarke, Miss Lillian 
Alexander, Miss Elsa Joel, Mr Frank Celli and 
Mr Leo Stormont. Chirgwin, who likewise re- 
joices in the additional cognomen of the ' White- 
eyed Kaffir,' is an entertainer whose style is ab- 
solutely unique. He is an accomplished musician, 
and master of a fund of extempore drollery. His 
white eye, by the way, was suggested by quite a 
chance circumstance. Going on to perform one 
evening he happened to rub one of his optics, and 
thus accidentally to remove the ' make up ' from 
this part of his physiognomy. The effect was so 
funny that the audience at once burst into a roar 
of laughter, and from that time to the present Mr 
Chirgwin has retained his white eye as a peculiar 
feature of his make-up. Other popular Ethiopian 
entertainers of the present are of course Mr Eugene 
Stratton, ' the Whistling Coon,' Mr Sam Redfern, 
and those droll sketch artistes, Brown, Newland 
and Leclerq. Mr R. G. Knowles, ' the very 



220 THE VARIETY STAGE 

peculiar American comedian ' as he describes him- 
self, is a welcome addition from the transatlantic 
variety stage, as are those talented duologuists 
Miss Marguerite Fish and Mr Charles Warren. 
Mr Albert Chevalier and Mr Gus Elen are un- 
rivalled in their artistic and sympathetic delinea- 
tions of cockney and coster character, and many 
of their ditties are as familiar in the drawing- 
rooms of Belgravia as in the humbler parlours of 
the East End. Mr George Macdermott, the last 
of the lion comiques, whose celebrated ' Scamp ' 
and ' Jingo ' songs at one time set the town by the 
ears, Mr J. H. Milburn, Mr Harry Rickards, Mr 
Walter Munroe, Mr J. W. Rowley and Mr T. W. 
Barrett belong to an older school of vocalists, 
which can still, in many respects, maintain its own 
with the younger generation of singers. 

The ventriloquist is a popular favourite v.ith 
music-hall audiences, and finds admirable represen- 
tatives in Lieutenant Walter Cole with his merry 
folks, Mr F. W. Millis, Lieutenant Travis and Mr 
Vento. Closely allied with this division of the frater- 
nity are the mimics, among whom Mr Medley, Mr 
Kenway, Charles Compton and Mr Arthur Faber 
are conspicuous examples. Within recent years 
several lady artistes have tested their powers in 
this direction, among the first being Miss Collie 
Conway, whose novel innovation at once brought 
this talented young artiste into prominence. The 
phenomenal success in the same sphere of Miss 



POPULAR ARTISTES OF TO-DAY 221 

Cissie Loftus, who followed, is too well known to 
call for more than passing mention. Since the last- 
mentioned young lady's romantic elopement, two 
other lady mimics. Miss Millie Lindon and Miss 
Marie Dainton, have come to the front and are 
winning new laurels by their clever impersonations. 
Closely allied to the two preceding divisions are 
the illusionists, of whom Mr Carl Hertz, Mr 
Charles Morritt and M. Servais le Roy are among 
the most clever and original. 

The dramatic sketch, however unpopular it may 
be with theatrical proprietors, is highly appreciated 
by the patrons of the halls, and finds employment 
for a large number of clever comedians. Among 
the latter may be enumerated Mr Fred Williams 
and Mr E. W. Barwick, Messrs Keegan and Elvin, 
H. D. Burton, Mr Brian M'Culloch, and Mr Wal 
Pink, in addition to the Collinson and the Brown 
and Kelly Combinations. 

Acrobats and troupes find a large amount of 
support at the halls, where the marvellous Craggs, 
the Frantz Family, the Selbinis and the Three 
Delevines are familiar and popular performers. In 
this connection may be mentioned those clever 
pantomimists Mr Paul Martinetti, Mr George 
Lupino, Sells and Young, and the Boisset 
Troupe. 

Musical performances also figure prominently in 
modern music-hall .programmes, and among this 
class of artistes the Jees, the Florador Troupe, the 



222 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Musical Palmers, Virto and the Brewster Com- 
bination take prominent rank. 

Lady variety entertainers are represented by a 
very large and talented contingent, and to attempt 
to enumerate with anything like detail the many 
serio-comics, sisters, dancers, male impersonators, 
and ballad and character vocalists would be well 
nigh impossible within the confined compass of a 
single chapter. Among representative lady artistes, 
however, must be mentioned Miss Marie Lloyd, 
whose brightness and piquant vivacity are appar- 
ently unexcelled. Miss Jenny Hill, Miss Katie 
Lawrence, Miss Nellie Richards, Miss Ada Reeve, 
Miss Lottie Collins (of ' Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay ' 
fame), Miss Fanny Leslie, Miss Lily Burnand, Miss 
Harriett Vernon, Miss Ada Lundberg, Miss Flor- 
ence Levey, Miss Minnie Cunningham, Miss Kate 
James, Miss Bessie Bellwood, Miss Marie Loftus 
and Miss Bessie Bonehill (the latter a clever male 
impersonator) have also each won distinction in 
their own particular line ; while among the dancing 
girls, Miss Ida Heath, Miss Marie Leyton, Miss 
Loie Fuller, Miss Nellie Navette, Miss Kate 
Seymour and Miss Clara Wieland are worthy of 
special mention. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE 

Rise of the Provincial Music Halls — Frec-and-Easies — An Illus- 
tration — First Halls in the Country — The Rodney — The 
Youdon — The Star, Bolton — Increase of Halls — Parthenon 
Rooms, Liverpool — Tableaux Vivants — Sample of Pro- 
gramme — Two Houses a Night — The Alhambra, Liverpool 
— History of Hull Music Halls — Springethorpe's — Jenny 
Hill's Proprietorship — Leotard Bosco — H. T, Downs — 
The Alhambra and Pavilion — Chief Provincial Halls of 
Twenty Years Ago- London 'Stars' not on Bills — Own 
Concert Parties — The ' Catch Clubs ' — Their System — 
Circuits Past and Present — Moss and Thornton, Livcrmore 
and StoH's Tours — H. E. Moss's Enterprise — Empire, 
Edinburgh — Empire, Newcastle — Empire, Birmingham — 
Dan Lowrey and His Ventures — Palace, Manchester — 
Salaries paid to Artistes in the Country — ;^i5o a Week — 
Repaid to Proprietors by the Public — A Clause in the Con- 
tracts. 

The rise of the music halls in the country has 
been, if less rapid and more gradual, equally as 
effective as that of the metropolitan temples de- 
voted to variety. The present palaces which have 
arisen in nearly every one of the leading cities of 
the United Kingdom sprang originally, just as did 
those of London, from the taproom of the public 
house. These rooms were generally known as 
' free-and-easies ' and they did not belie their title. 



224 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Admission was ' free gratis and for nothing,' and 
as a natural consequence the salaries artistes 
received were proportionately low. The sort of 
places which even in quite recent years are com- 
mon in country towns of the smaller class is illus- 
trated in the following incident which occurred 
to a now prominent performer whose name is 
well known in professional circles. It happened 
that this gentleman was, at the time in question, in 
very shallow water, and having what is technically 
known as ' a week out,' he accepted the advice of 
a friend to write to the proprietor of a little hall, 
in a neighbouring town, for an engagement. He 
did so, and his terms were accepted. On the 
Monday morning the vocalist set out on ' Shanks' 
pony,' the only mode of travelling he could 
afford, and eventually arrived at what he found 
to be a very small town. Inquiry led him to 

the Inn, in front of which was standing the 

worthy Boniface. ' Is this the Grand Music Hall ? ' 
quoth our friend. ' Ay, it be. Beest thou one of 
those singing folk.' ' I am,' was the brief answer. 
The host then led the performer to a small tap- 
room. The artiste surveyed it carefully, but saw 
not a ghost of a platform, so meekly inquired if 
the proprietor had forgotten to provide one. ' Oh, 
no,' was the reply, followed by the command to a 
servant near by to bring in the stage ! The latter, 
when brought in, was found to be a few planks 
nailed upon four barrels. The vocalist, who tells 



THE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE 225 

the tale, says that after he had done his perform- 
ance on the first night, the proprietor came round 
and told him that he thought that in future 
he had better stand on the floor while he sang, 
as his voice was so powerful that he was afraid of 
the roof falling in. 

But to return to our moutons. These ' free-and- 
easies,' together with the saloons, formed the only 
species of entertainment of the variety order which 
could be found within the length and breadth of 
the land, with the exception, of course, of London, 
until early in the forties, when three notable estab- 
lishments opened the way for the newer order of 
things. These halls were the Rodney at Bir- 
mingham ; Youdon's Alexandra at Sheffield, and 
the Star at Bolton. At these places a very 
moderate sum was charged by way of admission, 
and they were at once largely patronised, as the 
performers engaged were of considerably greater 
talent than those appearing at the establishments 
which still continued in the older groove. 

A start having been made in the right direc- 
tion, the example of the enterprising organisers 
was speedily emulated, and kindred places of en- 
tertainment sprang up all over the country, such 
principal cities as Liverpool, Manchester and 
others having later in the same decade quite a 
number of music halls which had a just and legiti- 
mate right to the title. 

As an example of the entertainment proffered 
P 



226 THE VA RIETY S TA GE 

to the public in those days is appended a bill of 
the Panthenon Rooms in Liverpool, as it was 
called in those days, but which now is known as 
the Panthenon Music Hall. This is of special 
interest, as it gives evident proof that the idea of 
tableaux vivants, which has had such a ' boom ' 
recently, and which, after all is said and done, is 
little more than a revised and more artistic form 
of the old ' Poses Plastiques,' is no new thing, but 
only a revival of the popular craze of the days of 
our fathers. 

PARTHENON ROOMS, 

Great Charlotte Street, Six Doors from 
Ranelagh Street, 

MODELS OF ART, 

Tableaux Vivants, and Poses Plastiques, 



The Proprietor has the pleasure to announce to his Friends and 
the Public the complete success of this truly Classic Exhibition ; 
and, in order to merit the patronage with which this Establishment 
has, since its opening, been honoured, begs to announce it will be 
his constant study to produce a 

SUCCESSION OF NOVELTIES 

Of a superior character, which, he trusts, will meet with their 
universal approbation. 



THE SPLENDID DECORATIONS 
AND APPOINTMENTS, 

From Authentic Sources, are Entirely New. 



THE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE 227 



MR JOHN REED, 

The Old Favourite Comic Vocalist. 



MISS M. BAXTER, 

The Celebrated Sentimental Singer, from the London and Glasgow 
Concerts. 

Programme of Tableaux and Songs for 

Monday, May 20th, 1850, 

and during the Week 

Comic Song, ' Mr Brown and Mrs Black,' . . Mr REED 

Song, . . . . ' Single Gentlemen,' . . Miss BAXTER 
Comic Song, ' Don't be Foolish, Joe,' . . Mr REED 

Song, ' I Hear Them Speak of My Fatherland,' Miss BAXTER 
Tableau — Jeptha's Rash Vow. 

SACRF.n HISTORY. 

Comic Song, . . 'The Review,' . . . Mr REED 

Tableau — The Sultan's Favourite Returning from the 

Bath. 

COMPOSITION. 

Song, . 'The Peace of the Valley is Bed,' . Miss BAXTER 
Tableau — Brutus Ordering the Execution of his Son. 

IN TWO TABLEAUX. 
ROMAN HISTORY. 

Comic Song, . . ' Pity the Sorrows,' . . . Mr REED 
Tableau — Diana Preparing for the Chase. 

A. COOPER, R.A. 

Song, . . ' I Strive to Forget Thee,' . Miss BAXTER 

Tableau — A Bacchanalian Procession. 

FROM THE BORGHESE VASE. 
ANTIQUE. 

Lady Godiva, in character, ..... Mr REED 

Tableau — Daughters of the Deep. 

COMPOSITION. 

Song, . . ' Who'll Buy my Heart,' . Miss BAXTER 

Tableau — Greeks Surprised by the Enemy. 

COMPOSITION. 



228 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Comic Song, . . ' Ruined Cobbler,' . . Mr REED 

Tableau — Lute Player. 

PRAIDER. 

Song, . ' Come and let us be happy together,' Miss BAXTER 
Tableau — Amazons' Triumph. 

A. COOPER, R.A. 

Comic Song, Mr REED 

Tableau — The Grecian's Daughter. 

GRECIAN HISTORY. 

Doors open at Half-past 6 o'clock, to commence 
at 7, and the Performances will be one continued 
routine of Tableaux and Soncrs. 



This style of performance continued the stand- 
ing dish at provincial halls without any special 
development until the commencement of the 
■ sixties, when a novelty in the fare provided was 
introduced. This was the two-houses-a-night 
principle, a system not unknown in the metropolis. 
It proved naturally of pecuniary advantage to pro- 
prietors, as it caused the salary list to be lessened, 
while at the same time it allowed double the 
number of visitors to be admitted, even if the prices 
were on a lower scale. The Alhambra Music 
Hall in Liverpool was one of the earliest ventures 
of this description, and within a very brief period 
it was extended to halls in other cities, and even 
to the present time is very frequently to be met 
with. Artistes grumble at the custom, for they 
argue that they have to do double the work and 
only receive half as much again in salary. But 



THE PRO VINCI AL VA RIETY S TA GE 229 

some proprietors have found they cannot run 
their halls on a profit on the other line, and so 
the performers have simply to grin and bear it. 

The history of the music halls in Hull — the 
fourth city in the kingdom — may be briefly cited 
here, as it will serve as an example of the gradual 
rise which, at the same period, was taking place 
all over the country. 

Early in the sixties the Mechanics' Hall, in 
Grimston Street, was occupied by Springethorpe's 
Waxworks, at which, as an additional attraction, a 
few performers were engaged to sing a song or 
two, and dance a step or so. A number of pro- 
prietors took possession of this hall, among others 
Burton, Wood, etc., but with varying success. 
In connection with the Mechanics' — or, as it came 
to be called, Springethorpe's — it is interesting to 
note that for the brief period of one week Miss 
Jenny Hill was the proprietress, but even her 
vitality could not put a spark of life into the 
business. It was not until Mr Leotard Bosco 
took possession that the hall began to show any- 
thing in the way of tangible receipts, but, being 
brim-full of business tact, this gentleman raised 
the hall high in the estimation of the townsfolk, 
and it speedily became a success. Mr Bosco 
took into partnership after a while Mr H. T. 
Downs, who, since the former quitted the ancient 
port, has continued to rule over its destinies. 
The hall is at present known as the Empire, 



230 THE VARIETY STAGE 

but at one period of its chequered existence was 
called the Star. The other hall in this town is 
the Alhambra, now owned by Mr Phillips. It 
has also been the cause of severe losses to many 
enterprising caterers in its time. There was also 
a place of entertainment known as the Pavilion 
in Carr Lane, but this proved so unsuccessful 
that it was ultimately pulled down, and on its 
site is now erected the handsome Grosvenor 
Hotel. At a ' free-and-easy ' in this town, known 
as Harriday's, called ' The Golden Cross,' Miss 
Nelly Moon made her first appearance, in the 
year 1863. 

As in Hull, so in other towns, music halls in- 
creased very rapidly in number, but all did not 
meet with the same success. 

Coming nearer to the present day, we find 
twenty years ago that the chief resort of the 
variety order in Birmingham was Day's Concert 
Hall, while at Manchester there were in friendly 
rivalry the Gaiety, the Alexandra, the Canterbury, 
the People's, which to-day is a thriving and pros- 
perous concern, and the Royal Grecian, at which 
Mr Peter Conroy, now musical director of the 
London Canterbury, used to wield the baton. 
The Star Music Hall in Liverpool was at this 
time one of the best of the many halls great 
and small within the city on the Mersey. 

The principal hall of that day in Edinburgh 
was Moss's Music Hall, previously known as 



TIJE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE 231 

Levey's. At Belfast, the leading haunts were the 
Alhambra and the Colosseum. Glasgow was well 
provided for by the Scotia, the Britannia and 
Brown's. Bradford boasted of the Star and 
Pullan's, Hanley did not deem two variety houses 
unnecessary, and at Dublin Mr West was host 
of the Old Griffin, while 'Jude's' establishment 
was a celebrated institution. At Southampton 
Gordon's Theatre of Varieties did well, and 
Stocktonites revelled in the attractions provided 
at the local Star. There was Thornton's Music 
Hall at Leeds, Jeffrey's at Jarrow, Ned Hammond's 
at Huddersfield, and Mr and Mrs Sweeney's at 
Leicester, which was afterwards owned for a while 
by Mr Sam Torr and then by Paul. This estab- 
lishment is now known as the Empire. Mr and 
Mrs White, the duettists, took over the music hall 
at Huddersfield ; Bagnall & Blakey had the 
Oxford Music Hall at Newcastle ; the Folly, 
Manchester, was opened by Mr Cambridge, and 
afterwards run by Mr Garcia. 

No one in looking over the programmes of that 
period can fail to note that the principal ' stars ' 
of the metropolis, or at least the majority of them, 
are conspicuous only by their absence, it being 
the custom in those days for the most popular 
artistes to tour the country with their own 
companies. Thus, one heard of Vance's Concert 
Party ; Mr and Mrs Henri Clarke with their 
musical entertainment, TJie World lue live in; 



232 THE VARIETY STAGE 

Mr Jolly Nash and Party, and so on. It is rather 
interesting and also curious to note that after 
the system of artistes touring with their own 
companies had quite become out-of-date and 
almost forgotten, it should so recently have 
become once again the vogue, and there is 
more than a probability that every year will find 
the custom increasing in popularity. 

In dealing with the subject of the provincial 
variety stage, mention must not be omitted of 
the Catch Clubs, which at one time were 
as numerous as they were prosperous. Of 
these institutions there are but few remaining, 
the best known being the Dover Catch Club. 
These harmonic gatherings were conducted in 
a manner peculiar to themselves. Several local 
men of affluence each winter agreed to subscribe a 
certain sum, which was devoted to paying artistes, 
the hiring of a hall for a series of concerts, and for 
other incidental expenses. These clubs used not 
to engage many performers, but those retained 
were always well-known and popular personages. 
At least one if not two were always engaged from 
London to sing the songs that were their most 
successful and that were * the talk of the town * 
as the saying is. And the managers of these 
C. C.'s thought nothing of paying large sums to 
induce artistes to go down for just one night or 
for a couple of evenings every now and then 
throughout the season. From these institutions 



THE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE 233 

it may be said sprang up the present smoking 
concert, which is such an established institution 
during the winter season in London, and which 
must necessarily have a baneful effect on the 
pockets of music-hall proprietors. 

Another not uninteresting feature in the develop- 
ment of the provincial variety stage is the 
revival, though in a different form it is true, of 
the 'circuit' system. In the days of the past it 
was customary for those artistes who sought for 
— and very often found — fame and fortune in the 
provinces to appear at the halls in certain towns 
which were all near to one another, and this used 
to be known as the circuit system, and although 
nowadays not called by the same appellation, the 
principle involved is the same. The Moss and 
Thornton tour, the Livermore tour and the Stoll 
tour are nothing else than ' circuits/ though the 
towns visited in the tw^o first instances may be 
many miles from one another. 

The provincial cities, however, as in most other 
things, followed in the wake of London, and did 
not become possessed of such magnificent palaces 
as some of the theatres of varieties which are 
now rapidly springing up everywhere in the 
country until less than five years ago. But since 
then it has been found that by the aid of Limited 
Liability Companies, these mighty structures, with 
their exquisite decorations in the highest style of 
art, with their grand staircases, their electric lights. 



234 THE VARIETY STAGE 

and their commodious and supremely comfortable 
auditoriums, can be erected, and that they will pay 
so handsomely as to render the dividends to the 
lucky shareholders, in the language of a well-known 
advertisement, both ' grateful and comforting.' 

The honour of introducing this liberal-minded 
policy in the provinces belongs without doubt to 
Mr H. E. Moss, who is the head and corner stone 
of the Moss & Thornton firm. This gentleman 
has a keen eye to business, and is a shrewd, calcu- 
lating manager, who thoroughly knows the pro- 
vinces and what the audiences there require. Mr 
Moss's first great undertaking in this direction 
was the Empire, Edinburgh, which, though it had, 
and even now continues to have, no licence for 
drinking, has proved a wonderful success. The 
Empire, Newcastle — one of the prettiest halls in 
the country — was the next effort of this gentle- 
man's ingenuity, and this proving equally as success- 
ful as the other, a third town was ' struck,' and on 
the site of the old Days' Concert Hall, at Birming- 
ham, was erected and opened, in the May of 1894, 
another Empire, which is flourishing mightily, and 
which is on a par as far as handsomeness of de- 
coration and elegance- of design with any theatre 
of variety in the metropolis itself. 

The celebrated firm of Moss & Thornton, in cer- 
tain of whose enterprises Mr Kirk is a partner, 
controls no less than seven halls, viz. : — the Empire, 
Edinburgh ; the Empire, Birmingham ; the Empire, 



THE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE 235 

Newcastle ; the Scotia and the Gaiety, Glasgow ; 
the Varieties, South Shields ; and the New Al- 
hambra, West Hartlepool, several of which estab- 
lishments are now owned by Limited Companies. 
In addition to this large number yet another is 
in course of erection, to be called the Empire, 
which is Sheffield. 

Next in importance to the above ejitrepreneurs as 
purveyors of variety fare to our provincial cousins 
are the Livermore Brothers, who have halls which 
are being carried on satisfactorily in Newcastle, 
Bristol, Sunderland and Aberdeen. 

Mr Oswald Stoll, as well as being an agent, is 
also proprietor of halls at Cardiff, Swansea and 
Newport, each of which he has christened by the 
' mascottic ' name of Empire. 

Another celebrated and experienced provincial 
prince of caterers is Mr Dan Lowrey, who has for so 
many years been proprietor of the Star Music Hall, 
Dublin, in which city he has myriads of friends, as 
is shown by the magnificent presentation of plate 
made to him in the year 1894. Not content with 
one successful property, which he sold in 1893 to a 
Limited Company, Mr Lowrey has just recently 
— December — opened an Empire at Belfast, 
which is built and decorated in the very best and 
most up-to-date style, and is proving, as was ex- 
pected, a great and a genuine success. This popular 
gentleman has intentions of erecting similar palaces 
at Cork and Londonderry, so that ere long the 



236 THE VARIETY STAGE 

people of the Emerald Isle will not be able to say, 
with reference to their music halls, that the 
latter are 'another injustice to Ireland.' 

Of other theatres of varieties, we would briefly 
mention the handsome Palace Theatre at Man- 
chester, of which, by order of a Puritanical magis- 
tracy, the licence for drinking has repeatedly 
been refused ; and the Empire, Bristol, which 
has up to now not proved a success, and is there- 
fore closed. It will be opened shortly, however, 
by a Limited Company, in conjunction with the 
Pavilion at Bath. 

The progressive policy is evidently strong within 
the hearts of the leading music-hall managers in 
the provinces, and every year will see new palaces 
erected on a scale of lavish splendour and liber- 
ality — a state of affairs equally beneficial to artistes 
as it is to the proprietors. 

The salaries that are paid to artistes at pro- 
vincial halls are comparatively fabulous : for where- 
as, if a performer working in London is appearing 
at four halls, each of which pays him ;^io to ^^15 a 
week, the country manager would have to pay — 
and does pay — such an artiste £^Q and £']0 a week, 
and the former has no brother proprietor to share 
the outlay with him. 

The writers know of a proprietor of a large hall 
in the north who told them recently that he did 
not want small turns, he could get them any time. 
What he wanted to compete against the strong 



THE PROVINCIAL VARIETY STAGE 237 

Opposition in his town were ' stars,' and he promptly 
offered i^ioo a week for two weeks for a certain 
popular serio, and ^^125 a week for one comedian, 
and ;^I50 for another. This will show the enor- 
mous prices that, chiefly owing to competition, have 
to be paid by provincial proprietors. It also shows 
very clearly, that if they can afford to grant such 
salaries to the best artistes, they must know that 
the public of their town or towns will respond 
in sufficiently large numbers to recompense them 
for the gigantic outlay. In order, very naturally, 
to guard against contingencies arising in the con- 
tracts made between proprietor and artiste, the 
latter is bound not to appear for a certain time 
before and after the engagement at any other hall 
in that town. This is, in the opinion of the 
writers, only a just and reasonable condition used 
by managers for their own protection. 



CHAPTER XVII 

CONCLUSION 

Survey of the Variety Stage — Its Early Struggles and Final 
Triumph — Its Opponents and Critics — Its Shortcomings — 
The Cause — The Music Hall and the Theatre — The Re- 
lations of the Two — The Variety Stage of the Future — 
Its Prospects — Apology for the Present History — Acknow- 
ledgment of Indebtedness — F'inis. 

In the preceding chapters the writers have en- 
deavoured to trace the rise, progress and gradual 
development of the variety stage from its rude be- 
ginning in the saw-dusted parlour of the obscure 
tavern and the harmonic supper-rooms of the night 
hostelries of sixty years ago, down to the pro- 
minent and prosperous position which it holds 
among places of popular entertainment at the 
present day. They have followed its history from 
the day of small things and lowly environments 
to the hour of its triumph, when, like the prodigal 
son, it has cast off its garments of sorrow, and, 
robed in rich vestments, has sat down to the 
feast of the fatted calf It has passed, like many 
other popular institutions, through many gradations, 
has endured much obloquy and long and persistent 

238 



CONCLUSION 239 

persecution, but though smitten hip and thigh, 
and sorely tried by many public and private 
enemies, it has managed to live down opposition 
of the fiercest and most virulent description, and 
in many cases, too, it is consoling to record, it has 
contrived to outlive its opponents. There are, 
however, still many who regard the variety stage 
with no friendly eye — Puritanism in the dotage 
of the century dies hard — but where it has one 
enemy it has countless friends. The music hall, 
indeed, has ever been beloved of the populace, and 
the public, for whom it caters and upon whose suf- 
frage it solely and wholly exists, have ever been its 
best and constant friends, standing by it through 
thick and through thin, and never, whatev^er else its 
Pecksniffian censors might do, deserting it in the 
hour of its need. To-day it stands upon a solid 
and enduring foundation, and if assailable, and 
yet assailed by the scattered forces of its olden 
foes, still continues practically and placidly im- 
pregnable. There have been periods in its history, 
no doubt, when the tone of music-hall entertain- 
ments was both corrupt and degenerate, when the 
ribald song and the obscene jest polluted the 
ears and defiled the morals of the audience, when 
no decent woman, and no self-respecting man 
might be seen without shame within the four walls 
of a temple of Terpsichore. But the same might 
be said of the stage of the Restoration, or of a still 
earlier and more robust period. But the cause is to 



240 THE VARIETY STAGE 

be found without rather than within. The variety 
stage, Hke its elder sister, is peculiarly sensitive 
to the tone and spirit of the times of which it is 
at once the mirror and the record. But tempora 
mutantur et nos mutmnur in illis, as the old and 
oft-quoted adage has it, and the modern music 
hall presents a programme which is as pure and 
irreproachable in tone as, and in many cases still 
more so, than that provided by the legitimate 
stage itself Indeed, the relation of the two is 
as close as it is intimate. Every year a multitude 
of variety artistes — the flowers of the profession 
usually — are attracted to the theatres, whose 
flickering fortunes they are called in to revive, 
and where they at once fill leading and distin- 
guished positions, and year by year there has 
been an exodus of clever actors and actresses to 
the variety halls, to which they are attracted by 
the handsomer emoluments, the readier recogni- 
tion, and the more substantial rewards which it 
holds out to genuine and legitimate talent of 
every style and degree. Critics may carp, there- 
fore, and prudes may prowl to their hearts con- 
tent, but facts are proverbially stubborn things, 
and there is no contesting the fact that the posi- 
tion occupied by the variety stage to-day is as 
conspicuous everywhere as it is unique. Neither 
drama nor opera has had erected to its service 
more numerous or more palatial temples, and 
neither branches of art can count so many pro- 



CONCLUSION 241 

fessors and supporters as those devoted to the 
cause of this peculiar and popular form of enter- 
tainment. But if the music hall has a glowing 
and interesting past, it has a still more golden 
and attractive future. 

Keeping, as before, in close and sympathetic 
touch with the great, beating heart of the people 
and enlisting in its service, as its sphere of useful- 
ness extends and broadens, the active and artistic 
co-operation of the best authors, the best artistes and 
the keenest intelligence of its day, it will neces- 
sarily yield still better and brighter results, and the 
cultured audience of the twentieth century — when, 
melancholy prospect ! the present writers have 
been gathered to their fathers — may sit through 
a programme in which the Shakespeares and the 
Henry Irvings of the future may collaborate to 
glorify and adorn. But, as the novelist is wont 
to say, we anticipate. The writers have finished 
their self-set task and have no further right to 
the reader's indulgence. 

In a work of the present kind it would perhaps 
be impossible to avoid some degree of error and 
inaccuracy. They may fairly say, however, that 
they have conscientiously endeavoured to make 
the book as free, as far as possible, from blemishes 
and defects of every description. And in this con- 
nection they desire to thank publicly and personally 
the many friends, both professional and private, 
who from time to time in the course of their 

Q 



242 THE VARIETY STAGE 

task have rendered them so much valuable as- 
sistance and advice, which in every case has been 
as sincerely appreciated as it has been freely and 
generously accorded. Lack of space prevents 
them mentioning in detail the names of the 
man)' talented artistes, managers, chairmen, pro- 
prietors and litterateurs who have thus aided 
them in the present history, while it would be 
unjust as well as invidious to make exceptions. 
With these few farewell words, the writers take 
their reluctant leave of a work which has involved 
them in many months of arduous research, and 
many hours of exacting toil, but which has been 
to them ever and through all — a labour of love. 



INDEX 



Abrahams, Alf, 133. 
Abrahams, Fred, 133, 137. 
Abrahams, Michael, iiS. 
Abrahams, Morris, 75. 
Acknowledgment of Indebtedness, 

241, 242. 
Acton, Phillips, 200. 
Adams, Annie, 103, 122. 
Adams, Bert, 197. 
Adams, Emily. 60. 
Adams, Sam, 59, 60, 62, loS, 195 

et seq. 
Adams, W. J., iS, 79. 
Adelaide Galler)-, 18, 79. 
Adelphi Theatre, Liverpool, 125. 
After the Ban{scG Godfrey Charles), 

218. 
Agencies, Rise of the, 114. 
Albert and Edmunds' Troupe, 135. 

137- 
Albert, P'rank, 135. 
Albert, Fred, 57, 76, 106 et seq. 

120. 
Albert Club, 33. 
Alcazar Theatre, 193. 
Alexander, Lillian, 219. 
Alexandra (see Music Halls). 
Alhambra (see Music Halls). 
Allen, George, 136. 
AUport, Frank, 151. 
Amusements, Popular, Fifty years 

Ago, 5. 
Anderson, Harry, 186. 
Anson, J. \V., 124, 156. 



Anti-Agency Societies, 140 et seq. 
Apo]lo(Poplar), (see Music Halls). 
Apollo (Bethnal Green), (see Music 

Halls). 
Arg)'ll Rooms, The, 195. 
Armada, The (see Godfrey, Charles), 

218. 
Arthur and Bartraud, 118. 
Artiste, The (see Press, the Music 

Hall), 149. 
Asher, Angelo A., 198. 
Astecs, The, 122. 
Atkins, Norton, 179. 
Auckland & Brunetti, 135. 
Aytoun, ' Lord ' George, 136. 



B. 



Bagnall & Blakely, 231. 

Bagnigge Wells, 7, 8. 

Bailey, William, 83, 86. 121, 124, 

158- 
Bailey, 145. 
Bailey & Oliver, 201. 
Barber, 148. 
Bards, Music Hall, and their Lyrics, 

167. 
Barnard, R , 153. 
Barnes, E. S., 85, 200. 
Barnes, J., 151. 
Barnes, 21. 

' Barney ' (see Barnes, J. ) 
Barnum, Marie. 108. 
* Barnum's Beauty' (see Belmont, 

George). 



243 



244 



INDEX 



Barrett, T. W., 220. 

Barrow, Samuel Albert, 147. 

Barry, W. H., 189. 

Bartholdi, Mnie., 57. 

Barwick, E. W., 221. 

Bass, Tom, 217. 

Bathe, 83. 

Baum, J., 58. 

Bayliss, C. J., 195. 

Beauchamp, George, 219. 

Bedford, The (see Music Halls). 

Bell, Charles, 68. 

Bellwood, Bessie, 76, 125, 222. 

Belmont, George E., 201. 

Belmont & Wilmot, 200. 

Benefit Bill, A, 43, 44. 

Beresford's Agency, 135. 

Bignell, Charles, 

Bijou, The (see Music Halls). 

Binge, John, 18. 

Blanchard, Richard, 109. 

Blanche, Ada, 197. 

Bland, Mrs, 7. 

'Boar and Castle Inn' (see Oxford, 
Music Halls). 

Bohee, Brothers, 76. 

Boisset, La Famille, 121 ; Troupe, 
164, 221. 

Boleno, Harry, 36. 

Bonehill, Bessie, 121, 222. 

' Boro ' (see Music Halls). 

Bosco, Leotard, 229. 

Botting, W., 59, 186. 

Boucicault, Dion, 157, 193, 207. 

Bowmer, 103. 

Braham, Augustus, 53. 

Braham, John, 8. 

Brett, Harry, 86. 

Brewster Combination, 222. 

Brighten, Charles R., 72. 

Brill, J., 62, 188. 

British Foreign Dramatic, etc.. 
Agency, 123. 

Brooks (see Judge and Jury So- 
cieties). 

Brough, Barnabas, 28. 

Broughton, Phyllis, 57. 

Brown, R. A., 87. 

33- 
and Kelly Combination, 221. 



Brown, Newland and Le Clerq, 219. 

Bruton, James, 32. 

Bryan, Alfred, 147. 

Bryant, 33. 

Burgess, George, 62. 

Burnand, Lily, 222. 

Burnot, Walter, 141. 

Burton, H. D., 221. 

Brushfield, W. F., 136, 137, 

Brushfield & Company, 147. 



C. 



Cambridge, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Cambridge, 231. 
("ampbell, Herbert, 76, 120, 147, 

158, 217. 
Canterbury, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Carroll, Jack, 48. 
Carter, Harry, 88. 
Catch Clubs, 232, 233. 
Caulfield, John, 32, 33, 53, 183, 

184. 
Cave, J. A., 7, 23, 32, 36, 38,88, 

103. 
Cavendish, Harry, 76, 187. 
Celli, Frank, 219. 
Ceres, Ballet of (see Canterbury), 

57. 
Chabert, 7. 

Chairmen Past and Present, 182. 
Chambers, Mab, 121. 
Chant, Mrs Ormiston, 194, 195. 
Chantrill Family, II 9. 
Chapman, Charles, 164. 
Chappell, James, 61, 158. 
Charing Cross Theatre, 126. 
Cherry, J. W., 41. 
Cheny, Lottie, 120. 
Chester, Alf, 217. 
Chevalier, Albert, 196, 220. 
Chilperic, Ballet of (see Empire), 

194. 
Chirgwin, 219. 

City, The (see Music Halls). 
Clarke, Lucy, 135, 219. 
Clark, Henri, 67, 86, 124, 231. 



INDEX 



245 



Clarkson, W. , 141. 

Clifton, Harry, 108, 171 et seq. 

Coborn, Charles, 27, 142, 150, 158, 

185, 186, 217. 
Coburg Tavern, 115. 
Cole, Lieut., 220. 
Cole Hole, The (see Song and 

Supper- Rooms), 13 et seq. 
Colley, Edward, 116, 119, 131. 
Collier, J. C, 194. 
CoUins's (see Music Halls). 
Collins, Lottie, 103, 178, 222. 
Collins, Mrs, 85. 
Collins, Sam, 42, 59, 84, 85, 98 et 

seq., 1 28. 
CoUinson Combination, 221. 
Compton, Charles, 220. 
Concert-Rooms — 

Alexandra, 40. 

Deacons (idem). 

Dr Johnson, 14, 31, 184. 

Grapes, iS, 40, 41. 

Hungerford, 40, 134. 

Ironmongers' Arms, 40. 

King and Queen (idem). 

King's Head, 40, 42. 

Mogul, 18, 40, 99. 

New Inn, 40. 

Rose of Normandy (idem), 59. 

Salmon and Ball, 18. 

Salmon and Compass, 40. 

Salmon (idem). 

Swan (idem), 41. 

White Lion (idem), 49, 85. 
Conquest, George, 95, 213. 
Conroy, Peter, 230. 
Conway, Collie, 220. 
Cook, 49. 

Coombes, W. H. 147. 
Coombes, Arthur, 219. 
Coote, Charles, 83. 
Copelia, Ballet of (see Empire), 194. 
Corney, Arthur, 219. 
Corri, Pat, 124. 
Cosmotheca, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Costello, Tom, 179, 217. 
Courtney, 'Baron,' 68, 187. 
Cox, Douglas, 84. 
Coyne, Fred, 57, 76, 107. 



Cowell, Sam., 20, 32, 53, 95 et seq., 
104, 128, 169, 170. 

Crackles, Will, 219, 

Cragg.J. W.,158. 

Cragg Troup, 221. 

Cremorne Gardens, 6, 19. 

Criterion (see Music Halls), 

Croslin, Tom, 132. 

Cross, 89. 

Crowder and Payne, 58, 61. 

Crystal Palace, 122, 132. 

Cunningham, Minnie, 222. 

Cyder Cellars (see Song and Supper- 
Rooms), 13 ^^ seq. 

Cyprus, Ballet of (see South Lon- 
don), 66. 



D. 

Dacre, Harry, 179. 

Dainton, Marie, 221. 

D' Alcorn, 180. 

Dallas, J. J., 66, 67. 

D'Auban, Mrs, 48. 

Davenport, Charles, 64. 

Davey's (see Music Halls). 

Davis, Capt., 74. 

Davis, E. H., 121. 

Davis, William, 75. 

Dawson, 41. 

Deacon, J., 73. 

Deacon, James, 164. 

Deacon's (see Music Halls). 

Deane, Charles, 219. 

De Frece, Maurice, 12^^ et seq. 

Delevines, The Three, 221. 

Denmark Theatre, 193. 

Denton, St John, 135. 

D'Est, Annie, 129. 

De Vere, Ernest, 133, 136. 

De Vere, Stella, 133. 

Dickson, Walter, 194. 

Didcott, Hugh jay, 66, 121, 128, 

129, 133, 137, 196. 
Didcott & Company, 129. 
Dietrich & Company, 135. 
Dodds, Will, 152. 
Downes, H. T., 229. 
Dowsett, Vernon, 198. 



246 



INDEX 



Dramatic, etc., Sick Fund, 97, 124, 

156. 
Dr Johnson, The (see Song and 

Supper- Rooms), 13 et seq. 
Dryden, Leo, 217. 
Dunn, John, 8. 
Dunbar, Annie, 61, 122. 
Dunning, AHce, 124. 
Durandeau, A. E., 179. 



E. 



Eagle (see Music Halls). 

East, 68. 

Eastern, The (see Music Halls). 

Eastern Alhambra {idem). 

Eastern Empire (idem). 

Edgar, Jack, 135. 

Edgar, Ralph, 186. 

Edwardes, George, 194. 

Egerton, Frank, 129, 134. 

Eldorado, The (see Music Halls). 

Elen, Gus, 27, 136, 220. 

Elliott Family, 119. 

Elliott, Richard, 135. 

Ellis, 62. 

Empire (see Music Halls). 

Encore, The (see Press, The Music 
Hall), 151, 152. 

England, Ballet of (see South 
London), 67. 

Epinosa, 121. 

Epplett, Fred, 179. 

Era, The (see Press, the Music 
Hall), 144, 145, 148. 

Escourt, Frank, 61. 

Etoile Family, 119. 

Eugene, loi. 

Evans's (see Song and Supper- 
Rooms), IT, et seq. 

Evans, Fred, 89. 

Evans, Harry, 189. 

Everleigh, Kate, 122. 



Faber, Arthur, 220. 



Fair, W. B., 67, 131, 186. 

Fannin, Pat, 50, 57, 102, 

Farini, 83, 130. 

Faust, 53. 

Favourites, Old Time, 93. 

Fawn, James, 57,76, 158, 175, 217. 

Feeney, Pat, 48. 

Fernandez, James, 39. 

Figaro, The, 177. 

Fineberg & Company, 136. 

Fires at the Oxford, 71. 

Fish and Warren, 220. 

Fisher, George, 135. 

Flexmore, Richard, 7, 37, 38, lOO. 

Florador Troupe, 221. 

Foote, Barrington, 67. 

Forde, A. G., 84, 102. 

Forde, J. G., 102. 

Ford, T. Murray, 152. 

Foresters' (see Music Halls). 

Fort, R., 87, 88. 

Foster, George, 135. 

Foster, H. W., 147. 

Foucarts, The, 83. 

Fox, Harry, 32, 49, 108, 115, 123, 

184. 
Fox, Gallimore, 135. 
Frampton's (see Music Halls). 
Francis, Day & Hunter, 180. 
Frantz Family, 221. 
Eraser, W., 146. 
Fredericks, George, 73. 
French, 32. 
Frewin, 57, 58. 
Friend, Wilton, 88, 100, 117. 
Fuller, Lore, 222. 



Gaiety Theatre. 90. 

Garcia, Edward, 58, 133, 231. 

Gardens, Pleasure, 6. 

Gatti, Carlo, 90, 189. 

Gatti's (Charing Cross), (see Music 

Halls). 
Gatti's (Westminster Bridge Road), 

(idem). 
Gear, 88. 
'Georgia Magnet,' The, 83. 



INDEX 



247 



Gilbert's (see Music Halls). 
Gilbert, Fred, 1 16, 119, 131, 177, 

189. 
Gilchrist, Connie, 67. 
Giovannelli, Edward, 8. 
Glenister, Frank, 77. 
Glindon, Robert, 31, 36, 38, 171. 
Godfrey, Charles, 27, 125, 218. 
Goldnt Widding, The (see Godfrey, 

Charles), 218. 
Gooch, Walter, 65, 73. 
Gordon, Theodore, 64, 91. 
Graff, Herr, 135. 
Graham, 7. 
Graham, Jake, 219. 
Grand Theatre, Islington, 59. 
Grand Hall, Clapham (see Music 

Halls). 
Grapes, The (see Concert-Rooms), 

18. 
Graydon, J. L., 49, 159, 164, 213. 
Greenrnore, John (see Green, 

' Paddy '). 
Green, ' Paddy,' 16, 17, 18. 
Griffiths Brothers, 120. 
Grimes, 75. 
Grimes, W., 162. 
Gros, Henri, 86. 
Grover, Russell, 76, 87, 187, 



H. 



Hague, Sam, 108. 

Hall, Frank, 87, 123, 159, 174, 175. 

Halls, Progress of the, 63, 78. 

Hammersmith (see Music Halls). 

Hanlons, The, 132. 

Harman and Elston, 120, 122. 

Harrington, J. P., 178, 179. 

Harris, Sir Augustus, 158, 159, 194, 

199. 
Harrison, Ralph Augustus, 148. 
Hart, Henry, 41, 60, 73. 
Hart, John, 89. 
Harwood. George, 90. 
Haslip, 88. 
Hawkins, 61. 
Hayes, Thomas, 88. 
Head. Charles, 197. 



Healy, Gus, 136. 

Healy & Cooke, 136. 

Heath, Ida, 222. 

Henderson, Alexander, 193. 

Hertz, Carl, 221. 

nibble, Charles, 144. 

Higham, Fred, 131, 134. 

Highbury Barn, 7, 8, 124. 

Hill, Jenny, 32, 102, 125, 131, 132, 

175, 222, 229. 
Hillier, 121. 
Hitchens, H. J., 194. 
Hodge Podge, etc.. Pantomime of, 

205. 
Hodson, 38. 

Hodson, Henrietta (idem). 
Hodson, George, 102. 
Holland, William, 56, 62, in. 
Hollingshead, John, 67, 82, 83, 193, 

206, 207. 
HoUings worth, A. B., loi. 
Holmes Brothers, 32. 
Holmes, Tom, 126, 131, 134. 
Holmes & Gant, 131. 
Hopwood & Crew, iSo. 
Horn, Brothers, 164. 
' Horner, Little Johnny,' 148. 
Howard, Carl, 221. 
Howard, Cecil, 152. 
Howes & Gushing, 82. 
Howell, Harry, 36. 
Hudson, Thomas, 28 et seq., 169. 
Hudson, H. C, 179. 
Hudson, Percy, 152. 
Hunt, G. W., 108, 157, 176, 177. 
Hunter, G. W., 137. 
Hutchisson & Dixon, no. 
Hyatt, Percival, 123. 



I. 



Ivanhoe (see Palace Theatre), 199. 



Jacobi, 83. 
James, Kate, 222. 
Jee Troupe, 164. 



hs 



INDEX 



Jennings, J. H., 71, 72, 164. 

' J's,' The, 162 et seq., 221. 

Joel, Elsa, 217. 

Johnson, Sam, 38. 

Johnson, 87. 

'Jones,' 135. 

Jones, S. A., 18. 

Jonghmann, Ferdinand, 53, 57, 70, 

179. 
Judge and Jury Societies, 8 et seq. 
JuHan, Carrie, 122. 
JuHan, W. R., 124. 



K. 



Karne, Dr, 75. 
Keegan and Elvin, 221. 
Ken way, G. W., 220. 
Kesterton, 186. 
King, J., 74. 
Kiralfy, Bolossy, 83. 
Kiralfy, Imre, 83. 
Kirk, James, 72, 234. 
Knowles, R. G., 219. 
Kopt, 129. 

Kopt & Company, 130. 
Krauche, 59. 



> 



Labern, John, 19, 25, 169. 

Labouchere, Henry, M.P., 39. 

Laburnum, Walter, 107, 121, 147. 

Lacey, Edward, 59. 

Lacey, Fred, 152. 

Lady of the Locket., The Ballet of 

(see Empire), 194. 
Lake, 86. 
Lamb, 88, 99. 
Lane, Mrs, 40. 
Lane, 37. 

Lansdowne (see Music Halls). 
Laroche, Fred, 57, 124. 
Lauri, John, 147. 
Law, Fred, 61, 68, 158, 189. 
Lawrance, Edward, 152. 
Lawrence, Katie, 222. 
Lay, Fred, 186. 



Leach, Gus, 50, 184. 

Leach & Kirk, 91. 

'Leaf,' The (see Allport, Frank). 

Leamar, Sisters, 122. 

Leamore, Tom, 217. 

Le Brunn, George, 179. 

Lee Nelson, 123. 

Legislature and the Halls, 202. 

Leigh, H. S., 173, 174. 

L' Etifant Prodigiie, Ballet of, 205. 

Lennard, Arthur, 217. 

Lennon, Will, 61. 

Leno, Dan, 47, 50, 131, 137, 217. 

Leon, E., 136. 

Leopold, Brothers, 121. 

Leotard, 82, 83, 118. 

Leprachaun, Ballet of (see South 

London), 66. 
Le Roy, Servais, 221. 
Leslie, Fannie, 222. 
Lethbridge, Alice, 136. 
Levey, Florence, 222. 
Lewis, 'Jolly' Little, 102. ^. 

Leybourne, George, 56, 57, 67, 90, V" 

105, 106, 108, 109, 120, 122. ^ 
Ley ton, George, 218. 
Leyton, Marie, 222. 
Licensing of Halls, 204 et seq. 
Licensing Victuallers Mirror (see 

Press, Music Hall), 153. 
Lincoln, Richard D., 184. 
Lindon, Millie, 221. 
Lindon, Sisters, 122. 
Lingard, 124. 
Linton, Gus, 147. 
Liskard, 147. 

Liston, Harry, 107, 108, 124, 148. 
Liston, Victor, 107 ct seq., 147, 174. 
Livermore Minstrels, 122. 
Livermore Tour, 233, 235. 
Lloyd, Arthur, 107, 109, no, in, 

113, 185. 
Lloyd, Marie, 222. 
Loftus, Cissy, 221. 
Loftus, Marie, 179, 222. 
Lofthouse, 128, 132. 
Lofthouse, Miss, 133. 
Loibl, 75, 76, 197. 
Loisset, 82. 
London, The (see Music Halls). 



INDEX 



249 



London County Council, 2\z et seq. 
I^ndoii Entr'acte, The (see Press, 

Music Hall). 146 et seq. 
London Pavilion, The (see Music 

Halts). 
Lonnen, E. J., 136. 
Lord Chamberlain, Interdict of, 39. 
Lord Raglan (see Music Halls). 
Love, 38. 

Lovejoy's (see Peckham Varieties). 
Lowrey, Dan, 235. 
Lundy, Harry, 72. 
Lund berg, 132. 
Lundberg, Ada, 222. 
Lupino, George, 222. 
Lusby's Summer and Winter Garden 

(see Music Halls). 
Lusby, W.,6i, 88. 



M. 



Macdermott, G. H.,67, 131, 134, 

137. 176, 178, 220. 
Macdonald's (see Music Halls). 
Macdonald, James, 84. 
Mackney, E. W., 42, 43, 64, 128, 

174. 177- 
Maclagan, Tom, 102, 147. 
M'CuUoch, 221. 
M'Glennon, Felix, 179. 
M'William, 150. 
'Magpie,' The (see Music 

Halls). 
Magnet, The (see Press, Music 

Hall), 146, 148. 
Maple, Sir Blundell, 165. 
Marchant, Fred, 164. 
Marian, 129. 

Marlow, Mrs (see Adams, Emily). 
Mario w, Fred, 61. 
Martin, Tom, 21. 
Martinetti, Paul, 221. 
Marylebone Theatre. 201. 
Marylebone, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Matthews Troupe, 121. 
Maurin & Perrin, 124. 
Maynard, Ambrose, 115 et seq., 

127, 147, 175. 



Meacock, James, 86. 

Medley, George, 220. 

Mellon, Mrs Alfred, 97. 

Merry, Tom, 150. 

Metropolitan Management, etc.. 

Act, 211. 
Middlesex (see Music Halls). 
Midgets, 132. 
Milburn, J. H., 107, 220. 
Miles, Ernest, 77. 
Millis, F. W., 220. 
Mills, Ben, 23, 24. 
Modern Variety Stage, 190. 
Mogul, The (see Concert- Rooms), 

13 f/ seq. 
Mohawk Minstrels, 180. 
Molesworth, Captain, 192. 
Montgomer}', 84. 
Moody, John, 25, 32, 38. 
Moon, Nellie, 76, 121, 230. 
Moore, G. W., 91. 
Mordaunt, Frank, 121. 
Morley, John, 42. 
Moro, Signor, 67. 
Morris, Alfred J., 179. 
Morritt, Charles, 221. 
Mortimer, James, 87. 
Morton, Charles, 50, 52, 62, 68 

et seq., 72, 96, 198, 199, 205. 
Morton, Richard, 178. 
Moss & Thornton Tour, 234, 

235- 
Moss, H. E., 234. 
Moul, Alfred, 83. 
Munroe, Walter, 220. 
Music Hall, The, 46. 
Music Hall, The Rise of the, 46, 

47- 
Music Hall Artistes Association and 

Club, 141. 
Music Hall and Theatre, 240. 
Music Hall Benevolent Fund, 158 

et seq. 
Music Hall, The (see Press, Music 

Hall), 149, 150, 151. 
Music Hall Critic, etc. (idem), 148. 
Music Hall Gazette (idem), 149. 
Music Plall Provident Society and 

Sick Fund, 157. 
Music Hall Sports, 159, 160. 



250 



INDEX 



Music Halls — London. 

Alexandra, 88. 

Alhambra Theatre of Varieties, 
79, 82, 129, 175, 193, 205 etseq. 

Apollo (Poplar), 61, 118, 137. 

Apollo (Bethnal Green), 60. 

Bedford, 73 et seq., 190. 

Bijou, 47. 

Borough, 88. 

Cambridge, 90, 122, 175, 176. 

Canterbury, 50 et seq. 

City, 33. 

CoUins's, 84, 85, 158, 172, 188. 

Cosmotheca, 88. 

Criterion {idem). 

Davey's, 91. 

Deacon's, 73 et seq. , 102. 

Eagle, 61. 

Eastern, 88, 

Eastern Alhambra, 87. 

Eastern Empire, 61. 

Eldorado, 88. 

Empire Theatre of Varieties, 191 
et seq. 

Foresters', 87, 108, 184. 

Frampton's, 58. 

Gatti's (Cross), 97, 189. 

Gatti's (Road), 90, 91. 

Gilbert's, 60, 106. 

Grand (Clapham), 201. 

Great Eastern, 60. 

Hammersmith Varieties, 200. 

Lamb, 60. 

Lansdowne, 84. 

London, 85, 200. 

London Pavilion, 73, 75 et seq., 
190. 

Lord Nelson (Whitechapel), 60. 

Lord Raglan (idem). 

Lovejoy's (see Peckham Varie- 
ties). 

Lusby's Summer and Winter 
Garden, 61. 

Macdonald's, 108. 

Magpie, 91, 137. 

Marylebone, 59, 61, 84. 99. 

Metropolitan, 49, 65, 86, 105. 

Middlesex, 49, 56, 99, 1S4. 

New Olympic, 199, 200. 

Oriental, 73, 75. 



Oxford, 70 et seq., 75. 

Oxford and Cambridge, 86, 87. 

Panopticon, 79, 80, 81. 

Palace Theatre of Varieties, 198, 

199. 
Pantheon, 88. 
Paragon, 61, 122. 
Parthenon (Greenwich), 200. 
Peckham Varieties, 200. 
Philharmonic, 59, 105. 
Price's, 108. 

Queen's (Poplar), 61, I2i, 137. 
Raglan, 88. 

Regent (S.W.), 87, 120, 186. 
Regent (Mile End), 186. 
Rodney, 60. 
Rotunda, 46, 47. 
Royal, 62, 140, 176, 186. 
Royal New, 87. 
Scott's, 91. 
South Eastern, 88. 
South London, 63 et seq. 
Spread Eagle, 68. 
St Leonard's, 90, 91. 
Standard, 41, 87. 
Star, 88. 
Strand, 89. 
Sun, 60, 120. 
Surrey, 47 et seq. 
Sutton Arms, 106. 
Swallow Street, 88. 
Three Colts, 185. 
Three Crowns, 61. 
Tivoli, 191, 198. 
Trevor, 60. 

Trocadero, 191, 195 et seq. 
Turner's, 60. 
Varieties, Hoxton, 90. 
Victor, 61. 
Washington, 91. 
West London, 201. 
Weston's, 56, 60, 62, 68, 75, 103, 

109, 124. 
William IV., 100. 
Wilton's, 59, loi, 1 28. 
Winchester, 49, 91, 185, 186. 
Woodman, 60. 
Music Halls — Provincial. 
Bath, Pavilion, 236. 
Belfast, Alhambra, 231. 



INDEX 



251 



Belfast, Colosseum, 231. 

Empire, 235. 

Birmingham, Day's, 129, 230, 

234- 
Empire, 234. 

Roclney's, 225. 

Bolton, Star, 225. 
Bradford, Pullan's, 231. 

Star, 231. 

Bristol, Empire, 236. 
CardiiT, Empire, 235. 
Dublin, Jude's, 231. 

Old Griffen, 231. 

Star, 235. 

Dudley, Alexandra, 137. 
Edinburgh, Empire, 234. 

Levey's, 231. 

Moss's, 230. 

Glasgow, Britannia, 231. 

Brown's, 231. 

Gaiety, 235. 

Scotia, 231, 235. 

Whitebait, 127. 

Gravesend, Grand, 122. 
Huddersfield, Ned Hammond's, 
231. 

Mr and Mrs White, 231. 

Hull, Alhambra, 230. 

Empire, 229, 230. 

Golden Cross, 230. 

Mechanics', 229. 

Pavilion, 230. 

Springthorpe's, 122, 229. 

Jarrow, Jeffrey's, 236. 
Leeds, Thornton's, 231. 
Leicester, Sweeney's, 231. 
Liverpool, Alhambra, 125, 228. 
Colosseum, 127. 

Oxford, 132. 

Parthenon Rooms, 226. 

Star, 230. 

Manchester, Alexandra, 230. 

Canterbury, 230. 

Folly, 231. 

Gaiety, 230. 

London, 120. 

Palace, 236. 

Royal Grecian, 230. 

Newcastle, Empire, 235. 

Oxford, 231. 



Newport, Empire, 235. 

Nottingham, Alexandra, 136. 

Sheffield, Alexandra, 225. 

South Shields, Varieties, 235. 

Swansea, Empire, 235. 

West Hartlepool, New Alham- 
bra, 235. 

Wolverhampton, Prince of 
Wales, 121. 



N. 

Nagle, Archibald, 83. 

Napoli, 132. 

Napoli, Felix, 131, 133. 

Nash, 'Jolly' John, 90, 109, no, 

III, 112, 147, 158, 232. 
Nathan, Ben, 129. 
Nathan & Somers, 136. 
Navette, Nellie, 222. 
Nelson (see Godfrey, Charles); 218. 
' Nelson, Alec,' 150. 
' New Crown and Cushion,' 162. 
New Olympic, 199, 200. 
Newson-Smith, H., 77, 165, 213. 
Nichols, D., 193. 
Nicholson, ' Baron ' (see Judge and 

Jury Societies), 9. 
Nilen, Frank M., 85. 
Norris, Tom, 48, 185. 
Nugent, 90, 122. 
Nye, Edward, 164. 



O. 



Ogden, J. H., 102. 

Old Milestone Tea Gardens, 6. 

Oliver, A. E., 86. 

Oliver, Will, 132, 136, 137. 

On Guard (see Godfrey, Charles), 

218. 
Operatic Selections, 53, 54. 
Opfermann, 67. 
Oriental (see Music Halls). 
Oxford and Canterbury Company, 

Limited, 205. 
Oxford (see Music Halls). 



252 



INDEX 



Oxford and Cambridge (see Music 
Halls). 



P. 



Page, E. V., 90, 175. 

Page, G. S., 90. 

Palace, The Theatre of Varieties 

(see Music Halls). 
Palmers, Musical, 222. 
Pandora Theatre, 193. 
Pantheon (see Music Halls). 
Paragon (see Music Halls). 
Parepa, Mme., 70. 
Park, A. J., 152. 
Parker, Will, 122. 
Parliamentary Committee, 206. 
Parravicini, S. A., 123, 147. 
Parravicini & Corbyn, 123. 
Parthenon (Greenwich) (see Music 

Halls). 
Paul, 231. 
Pavillio, T., 135. 
Payne, G. A., 58, 159. 
Pearce, 41. 
Pearce, Miss, 37. 
Peckham Varieties (see Music 

Halls). 
Penniket, Tom, 25, 32. 
Perrin, George, 32. 
Perry, Tom, 103. 
Phantasy, Ballet of (see South 

London), 66. 
Philharmonic (see Music Halls). 
Phillips, 38. 
Phillips, M., 48. 
Phillips, J., 230. 
Pink, Wal, Combination, 221. 
Pleon, Harry, 217. 
Plevna, Ballet of (see Canterbury), 

57- 
Polytechnic, The, 79. 
Pongo, 192. 

Poole, J. J., 65, 66, 105, 107. 
Poole, Mrs, 66. 
Poole, Charles, 68. 
Popular Artistes of the Day, 215. 
Powell, Florence, 57. 
Powell, Orlando, 179. 



Power, Nelly, 67, 102, 120, 133, 

175- 

Preece, Richard, 48, 186. 

Press, The Music Hall, 143. 

Preston, Sisters, 133. 

Price's (see Music Halls). 

Prichard, Tom, 135. 

Programme Parthenon Rooms, 
Liverpool, 226 et seq. 

Prompter, The (see Press, Music 
Hall), 150. 

Proprietors of Entertainments As- 
sociation, 164. 

Provincial Variety Stage, 223. 

Purkiss, Captain, 62, 159, 176, 197. 



Queen's (Poplar), (see Music 
Halls). 



R. 



Raglan (see Music Halls). 

Randall, William, 57, 102, 108. 

Randall, Harry, 74, 158, 217. 

Randall, Polly, 102. 

Raphael, Francis, 153. 

'Rats,' The, 161. 

Read, John, 85, 188, 

Redfern, Sam, 219. 

Reeve, Ada, 222. 

Regent (S.W.), (see Music Halls). 

Regent (Mile End), see Music 
Halls). 

Reign of Love, Ballet of (see Can- 
terbury), 57. 

Renals, Sir J., 159. 

Revill Family, 60. 

Reynolds & Company, 180. 

Rhodes, J., 22, 24, 183. 

Rhodes, W., 28. 

Rice, T. D., 8, 103. 

Richards, Nellie, 222. 

Rich, J. C, 217. 

Richter, George, 77. 

Rickards, Harry, 107, 185. 

Rigby, Arthur, 217. 



INDEX 



253 



Riley, J. II., loS. 

Riley, Will, 90, 121, 176. 

Ritchie, Josiah, 192. 

Riviere, 83. 

Roberts, Charles A., 118 et seq., 

147, 14S. 
Roberts, Arthur. 19, 57, 74, 76, 

218, 219. 
Robey, George, 219. 
Robinson, James, 88. 
Robson, Fred, 36, 39. 
Rodney (see Music Halls). 
Rogers, E. W., 179. 
Rose, W. E., 153. 
Rosen, J., 134. 

Ross, G. W., 25 et seq., 32, 95, 169. 
Rotunda (see Music Halls). 
Rouse, Thomas, 37. 
Rowley, J- W., 220. 
Royal (see Music Halls). 
Royal Aquarium (see Music 

Halls). 
Royal, New (see Music Halls). 
Rudd, Austin, 219. 
Russell, Miss, 53, 70. 
Rutland, W. H., 164. 
Ryland, 68. 



Sadlers' Wells Theatre, 73. 

Sala, G. A., 199. 

Salmon and Ball (see Concert- 
Rooms). 

Sampson, Henry, 106. 

Saunders, Fred, SQ- 

Saunders, Joe (see Leybourne, 
George). 

Savile House, 122. 193. 

Scotland, Ballet of (see South Lon- 
don), 66. 

.Scott, Clement, 213. 

Scott's (see Music Halls). 

Selbini Troupe, 221. 

Sells and Young, 221. 

Sergeant, Will., 68, 91. 

Seven Ages of Man (see Godfrey, 
Charles), 218. 

Seymour, Katie, 66, 222. 



Sharp, J. W., 18, 19, 32, 95, 169. 

Shaw, Tom, & Company, 135. 

Shaw, Tom, 135. 

Sheard, Charles, & Company, 180. 

Sherlock, 87. 

Sherrington, Louie, 48. 

Sims Reeves, 37, 70, 96. 

Sinclair, Charles, 87, 97. 

Sinclair, George, 131, 134. 

Sketch, The (see Press, Music Hall), 

153. 
Skinner (see Evans's), 18. 
Slaughter, W., 67. 
Sley, 136 

Slomaii, Charles, 7, 19, 20, 23, 24, 
28, 42, 43, 47, 96, 98, 180, 181. 
Smith, E. T., Si, 82. 
Slater, C. Du^idas, 194. 
Solomon, Charles, 41. 
Solomon, Edward, 41. 
Song and Supper-Rooms, The, 13. 

Cyder Cellars, 14, 23 et sea., 26, 
28. 

Coal Hole, 14, 21 et seq.., 24, 28. 

Dr Johnson, 14, 31, 184. 

Evans's, 14 et seq., 20, 24, 53, 99, 

177- 
Sonhammer, 75. 

South-Eastem (see Music Halls). 
South London (see Music Halls), 
Speedy, George, 65, 86. 
Speedy, H. P., 65. 
Spillane, 67. 
Sport ami Bird, Ballet of (see South 

London), 66. 
Sporting Times (see Press, the Music 

Hall), 153. 
Sprake, Herbert, 85. 
Spread Eagle, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Stage, The (see Press, the Music 

Hall), 153. 
Stage, The Variety, Origin of, I. 
'Stags,' The, 162. 
Standard, The (see Music Halls). 
Stanley, Frederick, 50, 56, 207. 
Star, The (see Music Halls). 
Stead, J. H., 103, 104. 
Stevens, Alfred Peck (see Vance). 
Stewart, Herbert (see Hall. Frank). 



2 54 



INDEX 



Stokes, Bertie, 122. , 

Stoll, Oswald, 136. 

Stoll Tour, 233, 235. i 

Stormont, Leo, 219. | 

Strand, The (see Music Halls). 

Strange, Frederick, 83, 207. 

Stratton, Eugene, 219. 

Stratton, George, 180. 

Street & Kite, 87. 

Stuart, 58, 59. 

Stuart, C. Douglas, 150, 152, 153. 

St Pants (see Press, the Music 

Hall), 153. 
St Leonard's, The (see MusiC 

Halls). 
Succi. 192. 

Sullivan, Sir Arthur, 199. 
Sun, The (see Music Halls). 
Surrey, The (see Music Halls). 
Sutton, Henr)-, 83. 
Sutton Arms, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Sutton, Sam, 185, 186. 
Swales, Alfred, 87. 
Swallow Street, The (see Music 

Halls.) 
Swanborough, Arthur, 62, 213. 
Swanborough, Edward, 77. 
Sweasey, J. S., 62, 197. 
Sydney, Harry, 85, loi, 171, 172. 
Syers, 120. 
Syers & Taylor, 71. 
Symons, T. K., 41. 



Tabrar, Joseph, 179. 
Tanner & Parkes, 87. 
Taylor and Brj'ant, 104. 
Taylor, James, 42, 109, lie. 
Taylor, W., 77. 
Tennent, Hector, 194. 
' Terriers,' The, 161. 
Terr}', Edward, 21. 
Theatres of Varieties, 1 90. 
Theatre Royal, Liverpool. 125. 
Theatres Registry Acts, 39, 203. 
Thiodon, 122. 
Thornton, R. C, 73 



Three Colts, The (see Music 
Halls). 

Three Crowns, The (see Music 
Halls). 

Thurgood, George, 187. 

Tich, Little, 131, 217. 

Tindall & Villiers, 64. 

Tiller, John, 136. 

Tinsley, Tom, 189. 

Tivoli (see Music Halls). 

Toole, J. L., 96. 

Toole's Theatre, 125. 

Topical Twies, The (see Press, the 
Music Hall), 153. 

Torr, Sam, 150, 231. 

Trafalgar, Ballet of (see Canter- 
bury), 57, 58. 

Travis, Lieut., 220. 

Tressidder, 58. 

Tressidder, Adolphe, 58, 77. 

Tressidder, Arthur, 58. 

Trevor, The (see Music Halls). 

Trewey, 121. 

Trocadero (see Music Halls). 

Trotman, Alfred, 73, 122. 

Turner's (see Music Halls). 

Turnham, John, 59, 85. 

Turpin, Miss, 53. 



Unsworth, ioi. 
Upton, F., 87. 



Vagg, Samuel (see Collins, Sam). 
Vance, ' The Great,' 57, 76, 90, 

104, 105, 148, 231. 
Vanoni, 132. 
Variety Profession, Gro\vth of the, 

'55- 
Varieties (Hoxton), (see Music 

Halls). 
Variety Saloons and Concert-Rooms, 

The, 34 et seq. 
Albert, 39. 
Apollo, 38, 75. 



INDEX 



255 



Bower, j8, 39. 

Britannia, 37, 39. 

Kagle, 35. 

Eftingham, 39. 

Grecian, 35, 30, 37, 39. 

Union, 37. 
Variety Stage of the Future, 241. 
Variety Stage, Survey of the, 238, 

239- 
' Vates,' 145. 
Vauxhall Gardens, 6, 18, 19, 20,. 

25- 
Vento, 220. 
Verrall, Nunn, 91. 
Vernon, Harriett, 76, 222. 
Vernon, Harry J. C, 76, 1S7, 188. 
Victor, The (see ■\Iusic Halls). 
Victor, Leon, 129, 131. 
Victor & Turnbull, 131, 
Victoria, Mile., 122. 
Villiers, R. Edwin, 57, 58, 64, 65, 

76, 77, 91- 
Virto, 222. 

Vokes Family, 48, 122. 
Volta Brothers, 132. 



W. 

Wake, Richard, 87. 

Waldiane, 136. 

Wallack, Mrs Henry, 53. 

Wallis & Wood, 47. 

Ward, William, 48. 

Ward, Willie and Emma, 48. 

Ward, A., 61, 

Ware, George, 41, 75, 127, 177. 

Warner, Richard, 127, 129, 130, 

158, 159, 164. 
Warner & Company, 127, 129, 

130, 134, 164. 
Washington, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Watts, H., 85, 172. 
Webb, George, & Company, 123. 
Wells, Joe, 23. 



Wenham, S. J., 164. 

Weston, Edward, 62. 

West London (see Music Halls). 

Weston's (see Music Halls). 

Weston, Julia, 116. 

Whales' Tea Gardens, 7. 

Where's the Police ? 206. 

White Conduit House, 7. 

Wieland, H., 131, 132, 137. 

Wieland, Clara, 132, 222. 

Wilde, ' Johnny,' 47. 

Wilde, William, 82. 

Wilkinson, Marcus, 103. 

William IV. (see Music Halls). 

Williams, Charles, 67. 

Williams, Fred, 74, 185, 201. 

Williams, 99. 

Williamson, ' Bill,' 97. 

' Will o' the Wisp ' (see Park, A. J.) 

Wilmot, Charles, 59. 

Wilson, Ada, 57. 

Wilson, T., 73. 

Wilton's, The (see Music Halls). 

Winchester (see Music Halls). 

Winder, Edward, 49, 65, 86, 99. 

Wood, 49. 

Woodman, The (see Music 

Halls). 
Wood & Bennett, 47. 
World We Live In (sec Clark, 

Henri), 231. 
Wortham, General, 83. 
Wreghilt, Miss, 124, 125, 148. 



Y. 

Young, Willie, 153. 

Z. 

Zazel, 192. 

Zaeo, 132, 192, 193. 

Zeluti, 48. 



EDINBURGH 

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1963 

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