Scala Theatre

Theatre in/near Fitzrovia, existed between 1772 and 1969

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Theatre · Fitzrovia · W1T ·
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2017

Scala Theatre was a theatre in London, sited on Charlotte Street, off Tottenham Court Road. The first theatre on the site opened in 1772, and was demolished in 1969, after being destroyed by fire.

The Prince of Wales Theatre in 1903 shortly before its demolition for the building of the Scala Theatre in 1904.
Credit: Caroline Blomfield
The theatre began on this site as The New Rooms where concerts were performed, in Charlotte Street, in 1772, under the management of Francis Pasquali. Popularity, and royal patronage led to the building’s enlargement by James Wyatt, and its renaming as the King’s Concert Rooms (1780–1786). It then became Rooms for Concerts of Ancient Music and Hyde’s Rooms (1786–1802, managed by The Directors of Concerts and Ancient Music).

In 1802, a private theatre club, managed by Captain Caulfield, the "Pic-Nics" occupied the building and named it the Cognoscenti Theatre (1802–1808). It became the New Theatre (1808–1815, under Saunders and Mr J. Paul) and was extended and fitted out as a public theatre with a portico entrance, on Tottenham Street.

It continued under a succession of managers as the unsuccessful Regency Theatre (1815–1820), falling into decline. The theatre then reopened as the West London Theatre (1820–1831, under Brunton), Queen’s Theatre (1831–1833, 1835–1837, and again 1839-1865), and Fitzroy Theatre (1833–1835 and 1837–1839). The lessee of the theatre from 1843 to 1869 was a scenic artist, Charles James James, and the theatre became the home of lurid melodrama, being nicknamed The Dusthole.

In 1865, the theatre was renovated and named the ’Prince of Wales Royal Theatre’ and this continued until its demolition in 1903. The same year, in partnership with Henry Byron, Effie Marie Wilton assumed the management of the theatre, having secured as a leading actor Squire Bancroft. The house soon became noted for the successful domestic drama-comedies by Thomas William Robertson, including his series of groundbreaking realist plays.

In 1903, Dr. Edmund Distin Maddick bought the property, and adjoining properties, and enlarged the site. The main entrance was now situated on Charlotte Street, and the old portico, on Tottenham Street became the stage door. The new theatre, designed by Frank Verity, opened in 1905, as The Scala Theatre, seating 1,139 and boasting a large stage. The new venture was not particularly successful, however, and became a cinema from 1911–1918, run by Charles Urban. In 1918, F. J. Nettlefold took over and ran the premises as a theatre again.

It became known as the New Scala in 1923, with D.A. Abrahams as licensee for both staging plays and showing films, becoming owner in 1925. Amateur productions and pantomime were performed, and for a while the theatre became home to the Gang Show. During World War II, it again housed professional theatre, reverting to the Scala Theatre. After the war, under the management of Prince Littler, amateur productions returned, with Peter Pan being the annual pantomime. This continued until 1969 when, after a fire, it was demolished for the building of offices, known as Scala House. In 1964, the theatre was used by The Beatles for the concert sequences in the film A Hard Day’s Night. Today it is the site of an apartment block.


Main source: Wikipedia
Further citations and sources


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The Prince of Wales Theatre in 1903 shortly before its demolition for the building of the Scala Theatre in 1904.
Caroline Blomfield


 

Fitzrovia

Fitzrovia is the area lying to the west of Tottenham Court Road.


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