Watch Now: You can now watch all five entertaining Brixton Music Hall talks for free!

Music Hall artistes waiting to go on at the Royal Music Hall. Undated photo from the arthurlloyd.co.uk website

The month of September welcomed Music Hall Wednesdays (part of Lambeth Heritage Festival’s first totally ‘online’ season) which gave an entertaining look at Brixton and Lambeth’s Music Hall history from a number of viewpoints.

The organisers have now loaded all five talks to their YouTube channel (Music Hall Brixton and Beyond). So if you missed out on a talk, or enjoyed them so much you want to go back and see them again, they are all now available online for you to enjoy at your leisure.

Here’s a quick reminder about each talk:


COME ROUND ANY OLD TIME – BRIXTON’S MUSIC HALL COMMUNITY, where 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 also tells the stories of some of the performers in what was a precarious and unpredictable world. Link to Sue’s talk here


THE EMPRESS THEATRE OF VARIETIES, where Bill Linskey talks about the history of The Empress Theatre of Varieties, now long-demolished. Opened in 1898 it quickly became one of Brixton’s best-known venues; described as ‘one of the finest of London’s suburban music halls’. Link to Bill’s talk here

RESEARCHING BRIXTON’S MUSIC HALL CONNECTIONS, where Christine Beddoe and Tracey Gregory share stories of music hall people associated with the legendary address Glenshaw Mansions on Brixton Road and reveal some of the sources they have used to uncover the stories. Link to Christine and Tracey’s talk here


MUSIC HALL JUGGLERS OF LAMBETH, Charlie Holland’s talk on music hall jugglers features original props, posters, programmes and photographs, and draws you into the globe-trotting lives of Paul Cinquevalli, the Mongadors, and Hanvarr & Lee. Link to Charlie’s talk here.


INTERNATIONAL MUSIC HALL is an interesting panel discussion on how music hall linked Brixton to the world, and how changing performance names and personas disguised true identities. Featuring Alison Young (a solicitor who has turned her research skills to exploring the lives of her paternal family of music hall performers); 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). Link to the panel discussion here

In addition to the talks, the Music Hall Brixton and Beyond collection on the fascinating historical website Layers of London continues to grow. They now have over 50 short histories of music hall people in and around Brixton. You can explore street by street.
It’s well worth a visit, and all praise to the contributors for the ingenious way it has been created and the detail which is available. You can find LAYERS OF LONDON by clicking here

The group have been delighted by the large online attendance for each of these events and are consequently planning more talks and possibly walks live or virtual.

Please do share the links to the talks and the Layers of London music hall collection with anyone you think might be interested. They’re all well worth a look!


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