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Holborn Theatre

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Important events

(detail)1866 | opening

(detail)1880 | fire

History

Holborn Theatre, designed in 1866 by Finch, Hill and Paraire for the theatrical entrepreneur and speculator Sefton Parry. By the mid-1860s, open balconies projecting well over the pit had become usual practice, and the forestage had completely disappeared. Ventilation was improved, with openings in 'the most convenient positions to avoid draughts, while the heated atmosphere is allowed to escape into the roof by perforations in the ceiling'. The Holborn was a small commercial London theatre, built very much on the cheap and in the simplest possible way; it was designed to hold 1,500 people who were squeezed in tight. There were no aisles.

 

In: Glasstone, Victor: Victorian and Edwardian Theatres: An Architectural and Social Survey. Harvard 1975 p. 38

 

Built by Sefton Parry, this theatre opened on 6 Oct. 1866 with Boucicault's The Flying Scud, which was a success. Subsequent productions and several managements failed and in 1875 Horace Wigan assumed control, reopen¬ing the theatre on 24 Apr. as the Mirror. In October of the same year John Clayton scored a success with a long run of All For Her, the first dramatization of Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. On 8 Jan. 1876 the theatre, renamed the Duke's by its new manager, F. C. Burnand, reopened with his burlesque of Jerrold's Black-Eyed Susan, transferred from the Opera Comique. After a further undistinguished period a modern drama by Paul Merritt, The New Babylon (1879), proved acceptable, and had just returned to the theatre after a provincial tour when the building was destroyed by fire on 4 June 1880.

 

In: Hartnoll, Phyllis, ed. The concise Oxford companion to the theatre. 1st ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1972.  ISBN 0-19-281102-9.

 

 

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