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Foresters Music Hall, 93 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, London

Formerly - The Artichoke Music Hall / New Lyric Music Hall / New Lyric Theatre - Later - Foresters Super Cinema

Forresters Music Hall, later Foresters Super Cinema, after its closure in 1960 - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

Above - Forresters Music Hall, later Foresters Super Cinema, after its closure in 1960 - Courtesy Peter Charlton.

Foresters Music Hall was originally constructed as a room attached to an 1825 built Public House called The Artichoke, and consequently it was called the the Artichoke Music Hall when it first opened. Arthur Lloyd is known to have performed here in 1871 and 1873. Later converted to the designs of the architect Edward Clark it was reopened as Foresters Music Hall in 1889, operated by W. Lusby. Later the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit took over the running of the Hall, and from 1912 it began showing early films as part of its programming. In 1916 it was renamed the New Lyric Music Hall, and later the Lyric Theatre.

An article by Ronald Mayes, printed in a programme for 'Dirty Work' at the Aldwych Theatre in 1932, carried more details for the Foresters Hall's early years, along with a nice image of its auditorium, shown below right, which I have transcribed below, later details can be found below this article.

The Auditorium and Stage of Foresters Music Hall - From an article by Ronald Mayes printed in a programme for 'Dirty Work' at the Aldwych Theatre in 1932.Strype's description of White-chapel and the Mile End Road, the district in which the famous Forester's Music Hall is situated, would vary very much from the appearance it presents to-day. It was known to be then "a spacious and fair neighbourhood; well resorted unto and accommodated with good inns for the reception of travellers, and for horses, coaches, carts and wagons." To-day these quiet thoroughfares are teeming with inhabitants and the district is altogether commercialised.

Right - The Auditorium and Stage of Foresters Music Hall - From an article by Ronald Mayes printed in a programme for 'Dirty Work' at the Aldwych Theatre in 1932.

Forester's Music Hall stood in the Cambridge Road East, and had its beginnings in a music room attached to a tavern; its actual days of prosperity commenced in December, 1893, when it was reconstructed and reopened under the management of Mr. W. Lusby. In its first days it owned its traditional chairman, who occupied a sort of throne chair at the head of the table against the stage, around which sat privileged guests, who loaded this man of importance with drinks and cigars.

The audiences who patronised the house were at times very boisterous and uproarious. They were never undecided concerning what sort of reception should be accorded an unsuccessful performer.

Mrs. J. L. Graydon, also known as Miss Lottie Cherry in her Music Hall performing days, helped her husband Mr. J. L. Graydon run the Middlesex Music Hall. She also helped manage Foresters Music Hall with her husband and then went on to manage the Alhambra in Brighton. - From the Encore - Courtesy Jean Green, Great Granddaughter of John William Cherry.At this famous old hall, G. H. Macdermott or "The Great Macdermott" reigned for a long time as manager. He was almost universally known by the latter title, and was one of the foremost stars of the variety world. He was of Irish extraction and enormously popular with the people. He had several halls under his control at this time, and at intervals, when Forester's resorted to regular theatre fare, many of the dramas, farces and pantomimes presented, came from his pen and were produced under his stage management. He was also famous for the fact, that the song, with which during his career he made his greatest hit, was bought by him for half a guinea. Many will remember the refrain of "If Ever There was a Damned Scamp."

Left - Mrs. J. L. Graydon, also known as Miss Lottie Cherry in her Music Hall performing days, helped her husband Mr. J. L. Graydon run the Middlesex Music Hall. She also helped manage Foresters Music Hall with her husband and then went on to manage the Alhambra in Brighton. - From the Encore April 19th 1895 - Courtesy Jean Green, Great Granddaughter of John William Cherry.

The hall entered upon another period of prosperity when the MacNaghten Vaudeville Circuit took it over at the beginning of nineteen hundred. This concern had control of so many of the London and provincial halls, that they found it to their advantage to institute the famous "trial turns," which took place at Forester's, on one matinee during each week. The public were 'present at the performances, and any artiste having aspirations toward the music hall stage, could present himself for audition. The audiences were extremely critical, and if they were not pleased, the curtain was very quickly rung down upon the unfortunate artiste. In this way the circuit was able to acquire talent for their theatres.

The above article (edited) on Foresters Music Hall was written by Ronald Mayes and published in a programme for 'Dirty Work' at the Aldwych Theatre in 1932.

The Music Hall was closed in 1917 and remained so until it was eventually reconstructed by the architect George Coles, and reopened by Lou Morris as the new Foresters Super Cinema with seating for over 1,000 people on two levels, stalls and one circle.

A Google StreetView Image of Sovereign House on the Cambridge Heath Road, which was built on the site of the former Foresters Music Hall and Super Cinema in 1964 - Click to Interact.The Theatre was converted for 'talkies' in 1931 and then taken over by Odeon Theatres in 1937 although it was not run with the Odeon name.

During the war the Theatre did suffer some damage but continued in operation throughout and was only eventually closed in 1947 to repair the damage, reopening in October 1949 as part of the Gaumont Circuit with a slightly reduced seating capacity.

Right - A Google StreetView Image of Sovereign House on the Cambridge Heath Road, which was built on the site of the former Foresters Music Hall and Super Cinema in 1964 - Click to Interact.

The Cinema was eventually closed on the 20th of August 1960 and remained so until it was finally demolished in 1964 for the construction of a block of flats called Sovereign House.

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

Some further information on Foresters Hall from various articles

In 1885 Dan Leno was offered his first big London engagement at Foresters Music Hall in Mile End. For his wage of five pounds a week he gave his championship clog dance and performed two comic songs. He very soon became immensely popular pioneering the style of stand up comedy which is still with us today.

Dan Leno would start with a little character study, then going into the song and ending with a character monologue. He played the London Halls for almost twenty years and in that time created a wide range of comic characters. He was a great pantomime performer and one of the most famous pantomime dames in the business.

Despite being the most successful Music Hall performer of his day, Leno never felt secure, he was very sensitive to criticism, although he received hardly any.

The above article was first published by the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall Trust.

"Another Whitechapel Outrage"

The Central News says another desperate assault, which stopped only just short of murder, was committed upon a woman in Whitechapel on Saturday night. The victim was leaving the Foresters' Music Hall, Cambridge Heath Road, when she was accosted by a well-dressed man, who asked her to accompany him, and requesting her to walk a short distance with him as he wanted to meet a friend. They had reached a point near to the scene of the murder of the woman Nicholls, when the man violently seized his companion by the throat and dragged her down a court. He was immediately joined by a gang of women and men, who stripped the unfortunate woman of her necklace, earrings, and brooch. Her purse was also taken, and she was brutally assaulted. Upon attempting to shout for aid one of the gang laid a large knife across her throat, remarking "We will serve you as we did the others." She was eventually released. The police have been informed, and are prosecuting inquiries into the matter.

The above article was first published in the Manchester Guardian - Tuesday, September 4th, 1888.

MATCH GIRLS

Match girls come out very strong on a Saturday night, when any number of them may be found at the Paragon Music Hall, in the Mile End Road; the Foresters’ Music Hall, in Cambridge Road; and the Sebright, at Hackney; The Eagle, in the City Road, used to be a favourite resort of these girls, and in bygone summers dancing on the crystal platform was their nightly amusement. They continue to be very fond of dancing, but they are even more attached to singing. They seem to know by heart the words of all the popular music hall songs of the day, and their homeward journey on Bank holidays from Hampstead Heath and Ching­ford, though musical, is decidedly noisy.

The police are as a rule extremely good to the match girls, and a constable will rarely interfere with them unless positively compelled to do so. It must be admitted, however, that to have half-a-dozen of these girls marching down the Bow Road singing at the top of their voices the chorus of “Ta-ra-ra ­Boom-de-ay,” or “Knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road “ - these are at the present moment their favourites - is a little irritating to quiet-loving citizens.

The above article was first published in 'Down East and Up West', by Montagu Williams Q.C., 1894.

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