From Our Magazine
About John Earl's Article in the June 2012 Members Newsletter
Frank Matcham Society President, John Earl, writes a six page article in the Newsletter following our site visit on the morning of our 2012 Annual General Meeting, just before the scaffolding came down to reveal the restored and re-imagined London Hippodrome:
"Between 1900 and 1911, four big variety theatres in London's West End were commissioned by four giants of the variety world. They were Edward Moss with the London Hippodrome, completed in 1900; Oswald Stoll's London Coliseum in 1904; Walter Gibbons's London Palladium in 1910 and Alfred Butt's Victoria Palace in 1911.
There were already major music halls in the West End: the Alhambra, the Oxford, the Empire and the Palace, but the new breed of variety magnates lifted the whole game on to a new level. Variety had become a hugely profitable industry, nationwide, and these four lavish buildings reflected its golden age. It happened that, like most golden ages, this one came immediately before a period of slow decline but, while it lasted, it gave London four wonderful architectural landmarks.
These big boys were never likely to employ anyone but the best to design their theatres. All four were by Frank Matcham. Each one has a unique and interesting story, but Moss's Hippodrome started the ball rolling..."
Surely there cannot have been a more tantalising prospect? A chance to see behind the scaffolding at Frank Matcham's first big variety theatre to have been built in the West End of London.