Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Bermondsey Music Hall

Lowry refers to a music hall in Bermondsey in his novel Ultramarine; "'This reminds me of the Bermondsey Music 'All Bill.' 'No boy, you can't beat it'." (Pg.99).

There were 6 music halls in Bermondsey:

1853-1878 Old Rose Music Hall
1861-1893 Jolly Tanners Music Hall
1862-1871 Crown And Anchor Music Hall
1867-1878 First Surrey Light Horse Music Hall
1867-1919 Star Music Hall
1874-1875 Red Lion Music Hall

The one which Lowry is referring is most likely - the most famous and long-lasting. Originally part of the Star and Garter pub, the Star Music Hall opened in 1867 in Abbey Road, Bermondsey, London. The original seating capacity was for 1,395, with 364 in the orchestra stalls, 233 in the balcony and 224 in the gallery. It was altered in 1883 to the designs of architects Smith & Stock. The proscenium was 24 feet wide, the stage 20 feet deep and there were two dressing rooms, one for men, the other for women. Some films were shown as part of the programme from 1908. By November 1919 it was not licensed as a music hall or theatre and had been renamed Star Kinema.

In 1920, the Star Cinema is listed as being operated by Vitagraph Theatres Ltd. Equipped for sound films in 1930, single screen and seating for 590, it was advertising pictures and variety. The Star Cinema was closed during World War II, probably due to the German bombing raids on the nearby London Docks. The building went to other uses and was demolished in 1963.

Lowry could not have possibly attended the music hall. He may be recalling an unidentified catchphrase of a performer or a song as Dana is thinking of a performance at an unnamed theatre in Liverpool.

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