Brixton and the surrounding London borough of Lambeth was home to thousands of music hall and variety performers and associated businesses between the 1850s and the 1960s.
As part of this year’s Lambeth Heritage Festival 2020 , during September you can attend and enjoy Music Hall Wednesdays, a series of talks about Brixton’s colourful Music Hall history. The Loughborough Road history project , The Society for Theatre Research, British Music Hall Society and the Brixton Society have all come together to support the project.
All events are online this year.
Please note that you will need to book for access to each of these fascinating talks which I believe should last around an hour each. The subjects are:
Come round any old time – Brixton’s music hall community Wed 2nd Sept at 19:00 BST. At this, the first of the Music Hall Wednesdays talks, Sue Mckenzie looks at how and why Brixton was home to so many people from music hall, early cinema and variety in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She will also tell the stories of some of the performers, their careers and their fortunes in what was a precarious and unpredictable world.
The Empress, Theatre of Varieties: Wed 9th Sept at 19:00 BST. Bill Linskey will talk about the history of The Empress Theatre of Varieties. The building on the corner of Bernays Grove opened in 1898 and quickly became one of Brixton’s best-known venues; it was described as ‘one of the finest of London’s suburban music halls’. Bill’s talk draws on a variety of sources including contemporary newspaper reports.
Researching Brixton’s Music Hall connections Wed 16th Sept at 19:00 BST. Christine Beddoe and Tracey Gregory share some of the sources they have used to uncover the stories of Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Road, the one time home of Charlie Chaplin, at the time when the area was a thriving hub for music hall people and when so many fascinating music hall people lived and passed through these buildings.
Music Hall Jugglers of Lambeth Wed 23rd Sept at 19:00 BST. Charlie Holland’s talk on music hall jugglers, featuring original props, posters, programmes and photographs, will draw you into the globe-trotting lives of Paul Cinquevalli, the Mongadors, and Hanvarr & Lee, all of whom were Lambeth residents for several years.
International Music Hall Wed 30th Sept at 19:00 BST. A panel discussion on how music hall linked Brixton to the world and how performance names and personas disguised true identity. Featuring Alison Young (British Music Hall Society); Steve Martin, (Brixton based historian and author, specialising in Black British history); Amy Matthewson, (Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).