MAY 2017

Hackney Empire, perhaps the most famous of the surviving Matcham theatres, unveiled a Walk of Fame on Thursday 25th May. Since this venue has seen most of the famous names in entertainment during its incredible history, it was bound to be a memorable event; and so it turned out. The Frank Matcham Society’s Vice President Mike Sell and Chairman Mark Fox  were there to represent us and reveal the plaque for the architect of the theatre Frank Matcham.

The theatre was built in 1901 and is one of the most perfect examples of his work.  It went on to other uses before a thorough restoration and re-working of the interior and exterior by architect Tim Ronalds in 2004, which returned it to theatrical use…so lots to celebrate.  The other commemorations on the day were for the original owner Oswald Stoll and Dame Barbara Windsor drew the gold and red velvet curtain to reveal her plaque; highly appropriate as she grew up nearby and has trod the Empire’s stage: photo David Reed.





We visited Bristol in late May for the Annual General Meeting and associated theatre events. It included the renowned Bristol University Theatre Collection, Frank Matcham’s Hippodrome, always good to see, Bristol Old Vic following its recent restoration, and Colston Hall which previously housed the Bristol Little Theatre, still existing in the space now called the Lantern alongside the later concert hall building.  Members unable to attend can read about it in the next Newsletter..



Pavilion Theatre Torquay 1912-1976

A Summer Sunday day out in Torquay is promised for a walking tour of theatre related sights with Mark Fox followed by a cream tea. Details already sent with the Newsletter.








Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne: photo Mike Wood

A visit to the theatres in the Eastbourne area is scheduled for mid September, which will include the Royal Hippodrome and Devonshire Park & Winter Gardens in Eastbourne plus the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.  Visit options and booking information are in the member’s Newsletter.








Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford: photo John Cooper

The three theatres in Guildford will feature in a visit early October organised by Mike Sell. Booking information for members is in the Newsletter.  The price will include a lunch.







Also in October members are invited to book for ‘Frank Matcham’s Masterpieces on Film’ in collaboration with the V&A Theatre & Performance Collections. This presentation by Richard Norman will feature clips from films that show Matcham theatres and marks European Historic Theatres Day. Members are advised to book early as this event is open to others; information in the Newsletter.




Canterbury Theatre: photo London Borough of Lambeth

A walking tour led by Mark Fox will feature old and new theatre sights in Lambeth. Open to members and non-members, numbers will be limited as with the popular Covent Garden tour last year.









Amongst other visits also in the planning stage for later in the year is the New Wimbledon Theatre which will host us for a tour in mid December with the option of a ticket for the panto matinee. Members should register their interest in this so that group size and price can be assessed.

It is also hoped to see the newly built Tim Ronalds designed home for Grange Park Opera at West Horsley Place when they can take us – expect more details here when available.

Planning for our 2018 international visit is at an advanced stage and details will be available in our members Newsletter and here.