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(detail)1867 | opening

(detail)1886 | closure


It must be a matter of considerable surprise to many persons that the equestrian interest should have, to all appearance, died out in the world of public amusement. London once had its regular equestrian theatre (Astley's), which was one of the most prosperous under the Lord Chamberlain's control; and it is with pleasure we announce to our readers that a most spirited attempt will shortly be made to revive the glories of the peaceful sawdust ring. On the site of the Holborn Horse Bazaar is now rapidly progressing towards completion an Amphitheatre which will vie with any building in London in the beauty and elegance of its decorations, and its admirable arrangements for the safety and comfort of the public. The Royal Amphitheatre, under the Management of Mr. Thomas M'Collum, a gentleman of great practical experience and excellent judgment in such matters, will soon be thrown open to the public on the evening of the 18th inst., when the Directors may feel sure of seeing their commodious Theatre filled from ground floor to roof. We now proceed to give our readers some particulars of the building and its exceedingly satisfactory arrangement. The plan of Mr. Thomas Smith, the architect, of Bloomsbury Square, is remarkably ingenious in detail, and in the employment of the space at command he has most carefully studied the interests of the Proprietors, the performers, and the public.

The building has three entrances. The Grand' is wide and roomy, and arches are to support the ceiling. Decorations in the Pompeian style are to be used here, and an extremely handsome stone staircase (carved balustrades) leads to the boxes. The corridor at the back is entered through an aperture, which can be closed with steel shutters, C and the Amphitheatre will contain twenty-four private boxes. A balcony follows the circle in front of the boxes, and in it will be placed  damask-covered spring seats (numbered and reserved). The pit, which is entered from the west side, is intended to accommodate 500 persons, and here again stuffed seats will be supplied. The gallery, access to which will be made from the east, is arranged to seat 550 persons. The front row will be cushioned and reserved, and, like those lower in the building, will turn back. The curve of the Amphitheatre is extremely imposing, and the ceiling will be constructed of stretched and illuminated canvas, with a large centre flower radiating from the sunlight. The mouldings are by Jackson, of Rathbone Place, and the decorations by Green and King, of Baker Street. To mention these well-known names is at once to suggest that a cultivated and correct taste will regulate the embellishments of the Amphitheatre.

All the entrances are fireproof, and all the staircases of stone; and especial care has been taken to provide facilities for clearing the building in a few minutes, should that necessity ever arise. Ventilation is promoted by an immense air-shaft, which runs through the entire structure, and the lighting has been en- trusted to the well-known firm of Defries and Sons. A crystal sunlight, nine feet in diameter, and containing nine hundred and sixty burners, will illuminate the whole of the auditorium. The supply of water will be copious, hydrants being fixed on every floor. Refreshments will be procurable in the theatre. The Box-office and Saloons will be under the supervision of Mr. Nugent, who is decidedly the right man in the right place. At the back of the Pit will be C found an enclosed Promenade fifteen feet in width. Iron doors and steel shutters are the rule throughout the establishment. There are two separate sets of stables, and sixteen dressing-rooms, replete with comfort, for the use of the double company of equestrians and dramatic artists.


The Era, 5th May, 1867



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