UK – London – Alhambra Theatre

Dates: 1854 – 1936

Some information below from Arthur Lloyd website
Additional information from Theatre Lighting in the Age of Gas by Terence Rees, Illustrated London News, The Builder

  • 1854: Originally the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art 
  • 1856: Closed. 
  • 1858 (3 April): Alhambra Palace opened, with a newly installed circus ring. 
    From Illustrated London News, 8 May 1858:
    “The Palace has been converted into an Amphitheatre at a heavy outlay, 1000 gas-burners added, and is, beyond a question, the most convenient, magnficent, gorgeous and costly amphitheatre in the world. Rome, in her palmiest days, could not boast of one so splendid. The structure, for examination as a work of art, is alone worth the price of admission. The company has been selected regardless of expense, and is the best in either hemisphere, and the only American Equestrian Company that has visited England since 1840”
    Alhambra Theatre - Illustrated London News
    Alhambra Theatre - Illustrated London News (April 1858)
    Click on thumbnail to enlarge
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  • 1859 (25 December): Listing in The Observer- Royal Alhambra Palace Circus
  • 1860: Converted again into a Music Hall by adding a proscenium arch and stage
  • 1860 (10 December): Opened as the Alhambra Palace Music Hall
  • 1861 May – London debut performance by Jules Leotard on trapeze
  • 1862 (30 April): Final performances by Jules Leotard. 300th appearance. (Daily Telegraph 30 April 1862)
  • 1871: New licence for drama – reopened on 24 April as Royal Alhambra Palace of Varieties. 
  • 1872 (20 May) Name changed to Royal Alhambra Theatre
  • 1881 (3 December) Opened as Alhambra Theatre after further conversions, including widening the proscenium (ref. The Builder, June 3 1882 p.670)
  • 1882 (7 December) Destroyed by fire
    From The Builder, 20 October 1883
    “The Alhambra Theatre – The gas arrangements for lighting the New Alhambra Theatre, Leicester-square, are now in progress, from special designs made by the architects, Messrs. Perry & Reed, including a new improved flash-lighting arrangement for lighting and extinguishing the whole of the stage lights instantaneously. The work is in the hands of Messrs. Vaughan & Brown, who are also supplying their improved stage gas-water joints, and large gas-holder tanks for their new lime-light arrangements, which they believe will be a great improvement and precaution against fire”
    From The Builder, 27 October 1883
    A Large Sun-Burner – The auditorium of the Alhambra Theatre will be lighted by one of Strode & Co’s 
    patented ventilating sun-burners. The sun-burner will have 819 jets, giving a light of upwards of 12,000 standard candles; it will be fixed in the centre of the domed ceiling, and be surrounded by a grating of pierced ironwork designed by the architects, Messrs Perry & Reed, and, in addition to the removal of the products of combustion of the very large quantity of gas consumed, is also expected to efficiently ventilate the auditorium.  The only sun-burner approaching this one in size was made and fixed by Messrs. Strode & Co at the Michaeloff Theatre in St Petersburg, some years ago. In addition to this sun-burner, Messrs. Strode & Co. are also constructing and fitting up arrangements of rings or coronas of gas jets for illuminating the turrets, which will be lighted simultaneously by the flash-light arrangement applied by them at the Princess’, Savoy, Strand, Glasgow, Belfast, and many other theatres in London and the country.” 
  • 1883 (3 December) Completely rebuilt theatre opened – Alhambra Theatre Royal
  • 1884 (18 October) Renamed Alhambra Theatre of Varieties and reopened as a Music Hall
  • 1891 – ‘Limelight Effects by W Stone’ in credit for The Sleeping Beauty
  • 1897 – 2nd entrance built for the theatre on Charing Cross Road
  • 1936 (1 September) Closed
  • Demolished in 1936
  • 1937 (2 November) Odeon Leicester Square built in its’ place. 


The Theatres Trust

Alhambra Palace Theatre, London on the Theatres Trust Database


Alhambra Palace Theatre 
[External Website]
From Arthur Lloyd website




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