The Holborn Theatre, 85 High Holborn
Formerly - The New Royal Ampitheatre / Royal Ampitheatre and Circus / Grand Cirque & Ampitheatre / National Ampitheatre / Holborn Ampitheatre / Hamilton's Royal Ampitheatre / Royal Connaught Theatre / Alcazar Theatre / The International Theatre / The Holborn Theatre - Later The West Central Hall / Holborn Stadium / The Stadium Club
See also in this area: The Theatre Royal, Holborn - The Embassy Theatre, High Holborn - The Holborn Empire / Weston's Music Hall - The Novelty Theatre - The Holborn Restaurant - Images of High Holborn - Disappearing London.
The Holborn Theatre originally opened as the New Royal Ampitheatre on the 25th of May 1867. The Theatre was built by Thomas Ennor to the designs of the architect Thomas Smith.
Right - For more images of Holborn and London's lost Streets see the Disappearing London page here.
The Building News and Engineering Journal reported on the construction of the Theatre in their 17th of May 1867 edition saying:- 'A Spirited attempt is about to be made to revive the glories of the peaceful sawdust ring. On the site of the Metropolitan Horse Bazaar, Holborn (nearly opposite the Inns of Court Hotel), 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, which will be under the management of Mr. Thomas M'Collum, is announced to be opened on the 25th inst.
Right - A Programme for 'Our Boarding House' at the International Theatre, High Holborn, on Friday February the 1st 1884, shortly before the name was changed to the Holborn Theatre.
The entire span of theatre is 70ft. in the clear; the whole length is 130ft. The width from box to box is 60ft., length from proscenium to box is 68ft. The Royal box is situated in the centre of the house, facing the stage, and the retiring room for same is immediately behind. There are no stage boxes whatever.
The architects found that in no instance whatever could a second row of persons in a stage box see the stage, much less be able to see clearly the ring of an amphitheatre; they therefore adopted an entirely different course, and arranged the dress circle at the side where the private boxes are usually placed, putting the private boxes in front of the house; they have, in addition, designed one row of stalls in front of the private boxes entirely round the house; these stalls hold 200 people, the seats for which are so managed that as persons rise to allow others to pass, the seats fold against the back self acting, so giving an additional space of 1ft. 6in. for passing room.
There are 26 private boxes. The amphitheatre (propre) holds about 700 persons. The gallery is approached by a stone staircase 5ft. wide. The front row in gallery is appropriated for gallery stalls, 150 in number, each seat being a stuffed cushion with a comfortable back. The other part of gallery will seat about 550 persons, besides having a large promenade behind, from which place every part of the ring and the stage can be plainly seen...
Above - Two entrance tokens for the Holborn Theatre, one for the Gallery and one for the Pit Stalls - Courtesy Alan Judd - The reverse sides of the tokens are blank.
...The stage is only 20ft. deep, but the proprietors consider this sufficient for the class of plays they propose to bring before the public. The building has three entrances. Messrs. Thomas Smith and Son, of Bloomsbury-square, are the architects. The mouldings are by Jackson, of Rathbone-place, and the decorations by Green and King, of Baker-street.
All the entrances are fire-proof, 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 entrusted to Messrs. Defries and Co. A crystal sunlight, 9ft. in diameter, and containing 900 burners, will illuminate the whole of the auditorium.
In all probability before the expiration of another twelve months we shall have two more new theatres in London. One will be in Long Acre, in the building presently known as St, Martin's Hall. The other will be erected on the ground in Leicester-square, now occupied by Pagliano's Sabloniere Hotel, and once the residence of Hogarth.'
The above text in quotes was first published in the Building News and Engineering Journal, 17th of May 1867.
The New Royal Ampitheatre opened on the 25th of May 1867 and would go on to have a multitude of name changes over its short twenty year life as a live Theatre. Even in the year the Theatre was built the name was changed, to the Royal Ampitheatre and Circus, and then in 1873 it was changed to the Grand Cirque & Ampitheatre. Later that year the name was changed to the National Ampitheatre and then the following year to the Holborn Ampitheatre when John Hollingshead took over management of the building for six months. Four years later in 1878 the name was changed to Hamilton's Royal Ampitheatre and the following year it was changed to the Royal Connaught Theatre. In 1881 Charles Morton ran the Theatre for three months. In 1882 it was known as the Alcazar Theatre, 1883 the International Theatre, and finally in 1884 the Holborn Theatre.
The building ceased operation as a live Theatre in 1887 and was converted into the West Central Hall which was later to become known as the Holborn Stadium and finally the Stadium Club.
Some of the information on the Holborn Theatre on this page was gleaned from 'London Theatres And Music Halls 1850 - 1950' by Diana Howard, 1970.
Right - Programme detail for 'Our Boarding House' at the International Theatre, High Holborn, on Friday February the 1st 1884, shortly before the name was changed to the Holborn Theatre.
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