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The Ealing Theatre, Broadway, Ealing, London

Formerly - The Lyric Hall - Later - The Ealing Hippodrome / The Broadway Cinema / The Broadway Palladium Cinema

A sketch of the Ealing Theatre - From the ERA, 16th December 1899.

Above - A sketch of the Ealing Theatre - From the ERA, 16th December 1899 - To see more of these Sketches click here.

The Ealing Theatre, with a capacity of 2,000 people, opened on Saturday the 23rd of December 1899 with a production of the pantomime 'Dick Whittington'. The Theatre was built as part of a complex of buildings which included the Theatre itself and to the east of it, connected by a corridor, the Lyric Restaurant, which it was said at the time resembled a miniature Holborn Restaurant. The Theatre and the Restaurant were built on the site of the former Lyric Hall which was built in 1881 and was eventually demolished so that the new Ealing Theatre could be constructed, the Lyric restaurant took the name of the former Concert Hall.

The restaurant consisted of a ballroom on the ground floor, called the Montague Rooms, which had a dance floor some 65 foot by 35 foot; the Percival Rooms at the end of the building of 51 foot by 20 foot; and running along the building's Broadway frontage on the first floor, the Leopold Rooms, with the largest being 40 foot by 35 foot. There was also a Masonic Temple on the second floor above the Leopold Rooms, a Grill Room, a cafe, a billiard room, a buffet, and a reading room.

Both the Ealing Theatre and the Lyric Restaurant were constructed by Beer and Gash for a project which was created by Edwin Stephens and designed by the architects George Pargeter and Walter Emden. The Manager chosen to run the Theatre was George Lee who had been running Toole's Theatre for many years previously, and his office was located on the top floor of No. 19, The Broadway.

Construction of the buildings was unusually long for the period and although local press reports were saying in March 1899 that the Theatre would soon be opened it wasn't until December that construction was finally complete. In their December the 16th edition, a week before the Theatre opened, the ERA printed a sketch of the Theatre, shown above, and a review of the building saying: 'Entering direct from the Broadway the visitor finds himself in a spacious outer vestibule 32ft. by 21ft., from the right hand side of which extends the grand corridor. This corridor, by an ascent of four steps, leads to the reception lounge, which will extend at the rear of the grand circle the entire width of the theatre. The stalls are attained by a descent on either side of the grand circle. The balcony is reached by a short flight of steps leading direct to that portion. The patrons of the pit gain access thereto by a sloping corridor leading direct from the Broadway...

...The stage is one of the largest in London, and will have an area of 700 square feet. Above it there is height enough to allow the scenes being lifted bodily out of sight, and below will be a drop of 20ft. The special attention which has been given to all the stage details enables any of the great dramas that may be sent on tour from London to be mounted with ease... The dressing-rooms are up-to-date and thoroughly well appointed. They are situated in a self-contained block, separated from the main building by fireproof doors... The internal fittings and decorations are most ornate, and uniform good taste has been observed in carrying them out. The ceiling is saucer-domed, and treated in the early Greco-Classic style. This style, indeed, is the key-note of the whole interior decoration. The grand circle front is divided into panels by small Corinthian columns. The panels are, tilled with Wedgwood representations of Thespian subjects. The panels of the family circle front contains representations of the Fine Arts, and are separated by Grecian vases. The gilded proscenium frame is square, and forms a beautiful and fitting border for the act drop, which represents a piece of tapestry from the famous Baranth collection...

A period postcard depicting the Ealing Theatre and Lyric Restaurant.Eastward of the theatre, leading direct from the Broadway, runs an 8ft. corridor giving access to the Lyric Restaurant.

Right - A period postcard depicting the Ealing Theatre and Lyric Restaurant.

This corridor opens into a noble reception hall, surmounted at a height of 50f t. by a handsome glass dome. Round this apartment, on the first floor level, runs a marble balcony from which ascends the grand marble staircase leading to the principal rooms on the first and second floors. This ball-room suite, named the Montague Rooms, is entered from the ground floor. The, ball-room itself has a dancing space of 70ft. by 40ft., and when used for concerts, &c., will have a seating accommodation for 550 persons. At one end is a permanent orchestral platform, and at the other, the south, is a balcony somewhat similar to that in the old Lyric Hall, save that it has a flat floor instead of one consisting of raised tiers. On the east side of the bail-room are two spacious ante-rooms, thus providing that great desideratum, "sitting-ou." accommodation, on the same floor as the ball-room. The floor of the ball-room itself will be laid upon springs. The walls are lined with fitted mirrors, and the appointments renders this suite unsurpassed as a centre for dances, soirees, concerts, at homes, and all similar functions. A smaller suite is arranged at the end of the buildings to be called the "Perceval Rooms." These rooms measure 54ft. by 20ft., and should prove extremely popular for smaller social functions. The entire Broadway frontage on the first floor is occupied by a suite of rooms called the "Leopold Rooms." The largest of these is 40ft. by 30ft., adjoining which is a reception-room, 29ft. by 16ft., and the ante-rooms. Running the Whole length of the Broadway frontage is an open balcony on to the street. This balcony, like its counterpart at the Parisian Opera House, communicates with the suite by French casement windows, and will doubtless be much appreciated in the summer. The Masonic Temple forms the second floor of the Broadway frontage. The walls are lined with high wainscot oak, and the room is thoroughly equipped in every way. The domed ceiling is as fine as that of the Holborn. The "Glory" is illuminated by electricity, the source of the light being invisible; the same remark applying to the "Starry Firmament."'

The above (edited) text in quotes was first published in the ERA, 16th December 1899.

The Building News and Engineering Journal also reported on the new Ealing Theatre in their 22nd of December 1899 edition saying:- 'The new Ealing Theatre, erected on the site of the old "Lyric" in the Broadway, is the largest for a place of public entertainment yet sanctioned by the Middlesex County Council. The architects are Mr. George Pargeter and Mr. Walter Emden. Doulton ware is largely used in the elevation. The mouldings have been specially designed and executed in biscuit-coloured material. Four doorways give entrance to the various sections of the building. The back elevation facing Haven-green is treated in fancy brickwork, the north-west corner being capped by an open-domed turret.

The scheme includes a theatre, a restaurant, a ball-room suite, which will be available for dances, concerts, at homes, &c., a small suite for minor social gatherings, a second large suite opening on to a balcony overlooking the Broadway, a Masonic Temple, a grill-room, a cafe, a billiard-room, and a buffet and reading-room, and all the necessary rooms for service, storage, &c.

Entering direct from the Broadway the visitor finds himself in a spacious outer vestibule 32ft. by 2lft., from the right-hand side of which extends the grand corridor. This corridor, by an ascent of four steps, leads to the reception lounge, which will extend at the rear of the grand circle the entire width of the theater. The stalls are attained by a descent on either side of the grand circle. The balcony is reached by a short flight of steps leading direct to that portion. Seating accommodation is provided for 2,000 people. The stage is one of the largest in London, and will have an area of 700sq.ft.

The whole building is of entirely fireproof construction, and the illuminant both for auditorium and stage effects will be electricity, with gas in reserve. The ceiling is saucer-domed, and treated in the Early Greco-Classic style. The grand circle front is divided into panels by small Corinthian columns. The panels are filled with Wedgwood representations of Thespian subjects. The panels of the family circle front contain representations of the Fine Arts, and are separated by Grecian vases. The gilded proscenium frame is square, and forms a border for the act drop, which represents a piece of tapestry from the famous Baranth collection. The building is heated throughout with hot water.

Eastward of the theatre, leading direct from the Broadway, runs an 8ft. corridor giving access to the Lyric Restaurant. This corridor opens into a reception hall, surmounted at a height of 50ft. by a handsome glass dome. Round this apartment, on the first-floor level, runs a marble balcony, from which ascends the marble staircase leading to the principal rooms on the first and second floors. This ball-room suite, named the Montague Rooms, is entered from the ground floor. The ball-room itself has a dancing; space of 70ft. by 40ft., and when used for concerts, &c., will have a seating accommodation for 550 persons. At one end is a permanent orchestral platform, and at the other, the south, is a balcony. A smaller suite is arranged at the end of the buildings to be called the Perceval Rooms.

The entire Broadway frontage on the first floor is occupied by a suite of rooms called the Leopold Rooms. The largest of these is 40ft. by 30ft., adjoining which is a reception-room, 29ft. by 16ft., and the ante-rooms. Running the whole length of the Broadway frontage is an open balcony on to the street.

The Masonic Temple forms the second floor of the Broadway frontage. The walls are lined with high wainscot oak, and the room is thoroughly equipped in every way. The domed ceiling is as fine as that of the Holborn. The "Glory" is illuminated by electricity, the source of the light being invisible; the same remark applying to the "Starry Firmament."

There is a grill-room 30ft. by 20ft., a cafe, a billiard-room, which will be located in the half basement, a buffet, and a reading-room. The kitchens, and everything connected with them, are in the central top portion of the building, and connect by means of lifts, with service and wine stockrooms on each floor. The depth of the excavations - nowhere less than 20ft. below the Broadway level - gives ample room for extensive cellarage. The lighting (gas and electrical) and the heating arrangements are being carried out by Mr. G. E. Cockburn, of 33, Great Pulteney-street, Regent-street, W. (late partner with Strode and Co.), and are in all respects complete and up to date.'

The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal, 22nd of December 1899.

The Ealing Theatre first opened on Saturday the 23rd of December 1899 with a production of the pantomime 'Dick Whittington'. However, in 1906 the Theatre was reconstructed when it became part of the Water Gibbons Circuit, some say to the designs of the well known Theatre Architect Bertie Crewe, and reopened under the name of the Ealing Hippodrome with a slightly lower seating capacity of 1,800.

A Google StreetView Image of the site of the Ealing Theatre today - Click to Interact.Only 2 years later, in 1908, it was converted for Cinema use and reopened as the Broadway Cinema in November the same year. In 1913 a new entrance was constructed by Edward A. Stone and the Theatre reopened on the 16th of March the following year, 1914, as the Broadway Palladium Cinema with a reduced capacity of 1,260.

Right - A Google StreetView Image of the site of the Ealing Theatre today - Click to Interact.

The Theatre was closed on the 1st of February 1958, whilst under the ownership of the Rank Organisation, after the last showings of the films 'Paths of Glory' and 'Baby Face Nelson', and was subsequently demolished so that shops could be built on the site.

If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.

Some of the archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.

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