ARTHUR LLOYD - A REMINISCENCE
BY C. DOUGLAS STUART
Arthur Lloyd, whose death on Wednesday in Edinburgh, under such pathetic circumstances, will be deplored by all who remember him in the zenith of his popularity, was born on May 14, 1839, in Annandale street, Leith walk, Edinburgh. His grandfather was a well known hatter in The Strand who was patronised by Yates, Liston, and many other actors of that day.His father having, while in the same business, intercourse with the theatrical profession, eventually the same and became a popular comedian, and afterwards the proprietor and manager of several theatres in Scotland. He married Miss Eliza Horncastle, who was a member of the celebrated Pyne and Harrison opera company, and had eleven children, of whom Arthur was the fifth. His full name was Arthur Rice Lloyd, owing to his godfather being Rice, of 'Jim Crow' fame, who was a great friend of his father.
When children none of the Lloyd family were allowed to visit the theatre often, but Arthur Lloyd had vivid recollections of hearing Jenny Lind, and delighting in the acting of Mcready, Charles Kean, Fabby Vining, Mrs Glover, Agnes Robertson, Robson, Mrs Stirling, Southern, and other celebrities of the day.
At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a trade, but he had the family longing to become an actor, and eventually his father arranged an engagement for him with his brother Fred with Mr J. R. Newcombes company at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, where in 1856 he appeared as general utility at a salary of 12s a week. After two seasons in that town he returned to his home and for several years travelled with his father through Scotland with an entertainment called Facts and Fancies.
Arthur Lloyds first music hall engagement was with Mr James Shearer at the old Whitebait Music Hall, Glasgow, when he was engaged at a salary of £4 a week, and made a big success with a song of Sam Cowells called "The Railway Porter. Which that performer permitted him to make into a Scotch ditty. Years afterwards Lloyd appeared at the same hall and received a salary of £60 a week, Mr Shearers manager then being the late George Ware.
several years he toured the
country with increasing popularity,
Ultimately, Arthur Lloyd decided to come to the metropolis, and made his first London appearance on Oct.13 1862, when he performed at the Philharmonic, The Sun, and the Marylebone, his songs being Beef, pork, mutton, will you buy? Acting Mad, and The Street Musician. After six weeks Lloyd quitted the two last mentioned halls, and entered into an engagements with Messrs Sanders and Lacey, of the Philharmonic, and Mr Charles Morton, of the Canterbury, to sing only at their halls. At the latter of these on the first night he was down to at twenty minutes to 12.00, immediately after Unsworth, the stump orator, and nearly all the audience had left the hall before he came on, there being only about 100 present, but so successful was he that Mr Morton, thinking him too good for so late a turn, put him on the following week, and for many months after, at 10oclock. At the Canterbury Lloyd became a great favourite singing five and six times a-night, amongst them being Peppers Ghost, The Old Clothes Man, A Bundle Rolled Into An Apron, and The Song Of Songs.
In the following year he produced a burlesque drama at the Philharmonic entitled The Wicked Squire; or, Muggats Brook, which ran for six months, and afterwards at the Canterbury and Westons for a long while. There was no scenery, simply a screen at the back of the stage.
After engagements at the Oxford and other halls Mr Lloyd went to the London Pavilion, then under the proprietorship of Messrs Loibi and Sonhammer, where he remained for upwards of a year; indeed so enormously successful did this popular comedian become, and such an attraction to the establishment, that he never received his notice, but remained at the Pavilion as long as he was in London.
After two or three years Arthur Lloyd organised a concert party and travelled the provinces, calling his entertainment 'Two Hours Genuine Fun', and during the summer he visited the different seaside resorts, such as Scarborough, which then only possessed the Spa Saloon and the old Theatre Royal, while Blackpool had the Assembly rooms, What a difference now!
Several years later, owing to throat trouble, Arthur Lloyd had to give up singing and, therefore procured a three year lease of the Queens, which he opened as a music hall on May 3rd 1871, (This date appears to be incorrect and the actual year should be 1874 See here. M.L.) Lloyds first pantomime being Jack and the Bean Stalk by Frank Green, afterwards producing two others, the last of the trio being a financial failure owing to the colossal success of the first production of The Shaughraun at the Gaiety Theatre.
During his lesseeship of the Queens he engaged many well known actors, including Chas Sillivan, who often said that Lloyd was the man who was the cause of his popularity, Johnny Dallas, the MCarthy Family, T. C. King, the talented tragedian, John Billington, Tom Glenny, Joseph Eldred, Mrs Rousby, besides many of the best music hall artists of the time.
- Clara and Wybert Rousby - Conceive, ye pitiable beings who
have not yet seen the original of our description, an actress possessing
a charming presence - a fascinating manner - a voice clear, sweet,
and resonant as marriage bells - wondrous power of pouring forth silvery
peals of refreshingly natural laughter, and a graceful and unaffected
style of acting - then you will have some idea of Mrs Rousby.
Another speculation of Arthur Lloyd was the proprietorship of the Shakespeare music hall Glasgow, which he opened on Oct 10 1881, (See Poster Right) but after a season of fourteen weeks he was compelled to close to lack of support.
The poster Right is from a large collection of original Lloyd Posters collected since the mid 1800s by members of the family and found recently after being lost for 50 years. To see all these posters click the Poster Index here...
The Great Arthur Lloyd was the first music hall artiste who ever appeared before royalty. This was about 1868, Jolly Nash and himself were engaged to appear before the Prince of Wales, now our King, and a select company of noblemen.
Of Mr Lloyds later engagements it is unnecessary to say more than that he has been appearing for several years with his sons and daughters in popular little sketches written by himself, and altogether of a different class to those of the present time.Concerning sketches, they were, according to our old friend, not at all the same in the old days - the early days of the music hall - as they are now.
There was about fifteen or twenty minutes dialogue, with a musical finale, consisting of a verseand chorus of some popular song parodied to suite the sketch. All that was required as a rule for those little playlets was an interior scene, a table, and two chairs. To have asked for anything more in the shape of furniture would have struck the manager dumb with astonishment.
As to salaries, they also were in the heyday of Arthur Lloyds popularity vastly different to what they are today. The highest salary he ever received in town was £15, at the London Pavilion; while his average salary, star though he was, was £7, £8, or £10, but, of course, it was not so in the countrythere he used to receive £60 and more a-week.
Although Arthur Lloyd will ever be remembered as a comedian of the highest order, yet it should not be forgotten that he was morehe was a clever and versatile author of pantomime, sketches, trios, (see above) duets, and other songs. Upwards of 1,000 of the latter did he write, and it would therefor be impossible to enumerate a tithe of them, but a few of the most popular, some of which have become veritable bywords, must be recorded. "Not For Joe", perhaps heads the list; but Take it Bob, The Postman, I fancy I can see her now, I vowed I never would leave her, One more polka, Its the sort of thing we read about, Immensikoff, At it again, were all the talk of the town in the days gone by. Referring to these songs, several of those Lloyd used to sing were written by the late G. W. Hunt, who was introduced to him at the Philharmonic soon after his arrival in London. Whos for the bank? The German Band, "The Organ Grinder," Somebodys Luggage, and The Ballet Girl were all from the pen of Mr Hunt.
In 1863 Arthur Lloyd wrote and composed Song of Songs, the idea being suggested to him by reading on the back of a sheet of music a list of the popular songs. It proved a sensational success, thousands of copies being sold and the publishers reaped handsome profit by the sale.
In 1867 he wrote and composed another big hit with the public, Not for Joe. The title of this suggested itself to him in the following manner. On a very wet night I jumped into a bus at Holborn. The conductor was standing on his perch, talking over the top of the bus to the driver. Every now and then, in answer to some remark of the latter, I heard the conductor reply. Not me, not for Joe. This caught my fancy and before I left the bus I had the chorus and melody complete.
Going to the Derby is another of Lloyds compositions, which, as he did not care for it himself, he gave to Mr J. W. Rowley, whose success with it is, of course, known the world over.
Arthur Lloyd married, in 1871, Katty King, the daughter of the tragedian, T. C. King, and she used to appear with him on his concert tours. After an illness of several months Mrs Lloyd died in 1891. She was a clever actress and a loving wife and mother, and her memory is still revered by her children, Annie, Harry, Katty, Lillie, Arthur, and Dulcie. At the time of his death Mr Lloyd was busy completing a work of reminiscences of the many famous and notable persons of all ranks of life whom he had met. (If you have any information on the whereabouts of this work, please contact me. M.L.)
Even if some of the younger generation do not remember Arthur Lloyd, there are thousands throughout the British Isles to whom he is more than a name, who will recall many a merry laugh they had listening to his clever comicalities, and who will utter a passing sigh when they read of the death of one who in his day was at the head of his profession, a popular man, and a straightforward one to boot.
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