London Pavilion is a building located on the
corner of Shaftesbury
Avenue and Coventry Street on the north-east side of, and
Circus in London.
currently a shopping arcade, and part
of the Trocadero
The first building bearing the name was built in 1859
for Loibl and Sonnhammer, and was a music hall
formed from roofing the yard of the
Black Horse Inn. A gallery was constructed, but it could not
utilise the full width, as one part of the premises was used by Dr
Kahn’s Delectable Museum of Anatomy
In 1885, Shaftesbury Avenue was built through part of the site and
a new London Pavilion Theatre was constructed, opening on 30 November 1885
, with a
popular review. The new theatre was the first music hall
-topped tables (for
dining in the auditorium). According to Charles Stuart and A.J.
Park in The Variety Stage
(1895) the rebuilding signalled
a new era of variety theatre
Hitherto the halls had borne unmistakable evidence
of their origins, but the last vestiges of their old connections
were now thrown aside, and they emerged in all the splendour of
their new-born glory.
The highest efforts of the architect, the designer
and the decorator were enlisted in their service, and the gaudy and
tawdry music hall of the past gave way to the resplendent 'theatre
of varieties' of the present day, with its classic exterior of
marble and freestone, its lavishly appointed auditorium and its
elegant and luxurious foyers and promenades brilliantly illuminated
by myriad electric lights
The success of the venture, lead its owner, Villiers, to form a
limited company, this became the first combine of music halls,
Syndicate Halls Ltd
made his London début here in 1903, as Nipper
Between 1912 and 1936, the theatre presented a regular programme of
musicals, these included Noel Coward
first success, On With the Dance
in April 1925. There were
appearances by Sir Harry Lauder
in October 1921, the American actor and vocalist Clifton Webb
appeared here in The Fun of
and again in October the following year as Phidas in
. In 1923, electric billboards were erected for the
first time on the side of the building.
In 1934, the building underwent significant structural alteration,
and was converted into a cinema
, at a
cost of £70,000 by F. G. M. Chancellor, of Frank Matcham
and Co. It was the venue for the
première of many films including The Curse of Frankenstein
May 1957 for which the foyer was done up to look like
Frankenstein's laboratory, complete with the Monster in a tank . In
July 1964 it was the venue for the premier of "A Hard days Night".
In 1986, the Pavilion closed its doors forever as a theatre. The
interior of the building was gutted, and converted into a shopping
arcade, preserving only the 1885 façade
and the outer walls and roof. A wax figure exhibition opened in the
building that same year, run by the Madame Tussauds Group, called Rock Circus.
The exhibition consisted of waxworks
of famous rock
and pop musicians
Circus exhibition closed in September
the building became part of the Trocadero Centre, and signage on the building was altered in 2003 to
read London Trocadero.
basement of the building connects with Piccadilly
Circus tube station and the rest of the Trocadero Centre.
The London Pavilion now houses "Ripleys Believe It or Not!", a
visitor attraction dedicated to the weird, the unusual and the
unbelievable, which opened in August 2008.
- The Old Pavilion (Arthur Lloyd). The
site includes a photograph of the premises. Accessed 25 October 2007
- The Entr'acte, London, Saturday,
1885, p.6a (Footlight Notes).
- Oxford Dictionary of Biography "Lupino Lane"
- Shaftesbury Avenue, Survey of London: volumes 31
and 32: St James Westminster, Part 2 (1963), pp. 68–84 accessed
- Sinclair McKay (2007) A Thing of Unspeakable Horror: The
History of Hammer Films: 35
- Guide to British Theatres 1750–1950, John Earl and
Michael Sell pp. 123 (Theatres Trust, 2000) ISBN
- Who's Who in the Theatre, edited by John Parker, 10th
edition revised, London, 1947, p. 1429.