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Frank Matcham

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(detail)1900 | opening



London: Hippodrome The Hippodrome (1899-1900), next to Daly's, was erected by Moss. By this time his architect, Frank Matcham, had built him umpteen music halls up and down the country; here the commission was for a circus/water-spectacle/ music hall. Circus-theatres and hippodromes had been very popular throughout the nineteenth century, both in Britain and on the Continent. In London, Matcham combined his typical rectangular plan, with its ornamental niches and straight-sided balconies, with a central circus arena poised on hydraulic rams. For naumachiae (water-spectacles) the lowest level of the arena could be flooded with 100,000 gallons of water from the Cran Bourne which conveniently flows under the stage. High-divers could plunge from the balustraded central dome, which opened to reveal the starry night, and twenty elephants could slide down a chute into the water. When animals were used, the arena was enclosed with steel railings 12 feet high.


In: Glasstone, Victor: Victorian and Edwardian Theatres: An Architectural and Social Survey. Harvard 1975 p. 98




Author: Victor Glasstone

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