The Star Music Hall, 189 Neckinger Road (Now Abbey Street), Bermondsey
Also known as - The Star and Garter Music Hall / The Star of Bermondsey / Star Kinema / Star Cinema
Above - The site of the Star Music Hall, Bermondsey in August 2014 - Photo M.L.
The Star of Bermondsey was a Music Hall attached to the early 1830s Star and Garter Hotel, a public house, situated in Bermondsey in what was then called Neckinger Road but is today called Abbey Street.
Right - A photograph of the Star, Bermondsey during its variety years. This photograph is in the public domain and its origin is unknown. Please Contact me if you know its origin.
The Star Music Hall opened in October 1867 and was probably begun as a result of the one hundred new houses which had been built in the Bermondsey area a year earlier. When the Victuallers Licence for the Star and Garter Hotel was passed from John Mack to Thomas Hayes this seems to have been the catalyst for opening the new Hall. Hayes' Licence for Music and Dancing was granted unopposed on the 17th of October 1867.
A few months later and the Hall was already 'on the map' and the ERA was already carrying notices about its entertainments. One such notice, published in their 23rd of February 1868 edition read:- 'STAR AND GARTER MUSIC HALL, NECKINGER-ROAD, BERMONDSEY. - (Proprietor, Mr. Thomas Hayes) - Immense Success of the following Company: - Miss Fanny Poole (the pleasing Serio-Comic), Miss Fanny Milton (Characteristic Vocalist), Miss Ada Folloy (Serio-Comic Singer and Dancer), Mr. Percy Anderson (the Rising Comic), Mr. Harry Curtis (the People's Favourite), Messrs. Webb and Danvers (with their Celebrated Dogs, Lion and Flora), Mr. Robert Coombs (Comedian, Author, and Composer), Mr. Paddy Folloy (Ireland's Gem), Mr. W. J. Adams (the Great Comique). Pianist, Mr. A. Webb. Manager, Mr. Chris Slater. Doors open Half-past Seven. Commence at Eight. Stalls, 6d.; Area, 4d.' - The ERA, 23rd of February 1868.
Already a popular Music Hall by 1868, the ERA decided to report on the Hall itself in their 26th of April 1868 edition saying:- 'As this place is fresh on our list it may not be amiss if we prefix to our report of its entertainments, a few words about its position, character, and prospects.
The Hall, which, though without a gallery of any kind, will accommodate about 400 persons, adjoins a large, respectable, and thriving hostelry, called the Star and Garter, which is situated in the Neckinger-road, Bermondsey, at no great distance from the Spa-road station, on the Greenwich line.
There is a large stage, with a pretty back scene, and the place is suitably decorated and well lighted. Although the establishment was only opened five months since, under the management of Mr. Thomas Hayes, the present Proprietor, as great has been the success attained that the need of larger space is already felt, and we believe that early enlargement is seriously contemplated.
On Wednesday evening last the place was quite full, and the audience
was of the most orderly kind. Mr. Chris. Slater, the Manager and Chairman,
opened the proceedings by singing "There
are many worse off than you," a "Song on the Tirnes,"
and "Im not so fat as I used to be." As a vocalist,
as an overseer of the artistes, and as ruler of the audience,
this gentleman appears to be well qualified for his post. He was followed
by Miss Jessie Patterson, who is a young lady of agreeable appearance
and manner, and possessed of a strong, clear, contralto voice. She appeared
more than once in the course of the evening, and her numerous songs,
among which were "Napolitaine" and "I've a welcome for
thee," were delivered in a ringing and tasteful style. Mr. Steve
Masters sang "Just the style for Frank," "The school
of roaring boys," and "It's enough to make a man go mad."
He was well dressed for the characters which he assumed, and sang and
gestured in a lively and vigorous manner, Mr. Orville Parker, who is
well known at most of the large London
Music Halls as a first-class Negro delineator, is evidently a favourite
here. He displayed great talent by his singing of the song " I'm
off to Baltimore," by a performance, on the banjo, and by the delivery
of an original and witty stump oration, which was ludicrously incoherent
and amusingly absurd. To him succeeded Miss Melly Wood' who sang of
"The Postman," "The pig that won't get over the stile,"
and "Somebody's Child." She supplemented her performance with
a clog dance, which was very cleverly executed, and was, like her vocal
efforts, much applauded. Mr. Walter Laburnum sings here with great success
"'The Maid of Maida:-hill," "Odd man out " "Just
the age for a soldier," and is so well received and so warmly recalled
that he has to sing a fourth and even a fifth time. Miss Emma Smith
appeared as a jockey and as a romping girl, and danced and sang well;
and Mr. Patrick Mills proved himself an efficient Irish vocalist and
dancer.' - The ERA, 26th of April 1868.
By 1908 early films were being shown as part of the entertainments and by 1919 it had been renamed the Star Kinema. The following year the Star was being operated by Vitagraph Theatres Ltd and by 1930 it had been equipped for sound too, although it was still showing both films and variety as part of its programming.
In its later years the Star Cinema, as it had become known, was mostly used as a Cinema although it did still stage a Christmas Pantomime every year until it was closed during the Second World War and never reopened.
The Star was demolished in 1963 along with the Star Public House it was attached to and the site is today home to the Bermondsey Community Centre and a small park.
Right - Abbey Street and the site of the former Star Music Hall, Bermondsey in August 2014. Abbey Street was originally called Neckinger Road after the Neckinger River which used to flow nearby, now one of London's lost rivers - Photo M.L.
If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.
Archive newspaper reports on this page were collated and kindly sent in for inclusion by B.F.
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