Collins’ Music Hall

At the rear of the Lansdowne Arms public house, there was, as early as 1790, an annex in Old Paradise Row.

The Lansdowne Music Hall was erected here in 1861-2. A bankrupt proprietor of the Marylebone Music Hall, Samuel Thomas Collins Vagg, also performed under the stage name of Sam Collins. He was a ’Stage Irishman’ and vocalist. He took over the management of the Lansdowne Music Hall in 1863 but died in 1869.

His widow took over with Harry Sydney who himself died in 1870. The music hall was rebuilt in 1897 with a capacity of 1800 and had ten bars.

By 1908 it had become Collins Theatre of Varieties and during the First World War, the Islington Hippodrome.

In June 1904 Bioscope pictures were shown there. Gracie Fields appeared in 1915 when the price of a gallery seat was tuppence. Tommy Trinder made his first stage appearance there and Norman Wisdom appeared in December 1945. Old-time ’greats’ were numerous: Charles Chaplin, Fred Karno, Kate Carney, Gus Elen, Sir George Robey, Marie Lloyd, Albert Chevalier, Nellie Wallace, Sir Harry Lauder, ’Wee’ Georgie Wood and more.

Collins’ Music Hall did repertory until 1932, variety 1932-7, repertory again, but in its last and declining years, strip shows. Notable proprietors were the Lake family, particularly Lew Lake Junior from 1939 until 1958.

A disastrous fire on 13 September 1958 gutted the dressing rooms and the rear of the building and on 23 April 1963 Tommy Trinder auctioned off the photographs, playbills and other material that formerly adorned the bar of the Lansdowne Arms from which you could watch a performance on the stage.

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