The Great British Music Hall tradition didn’t die a death overnight.
The decline of interest in the medium was a gradual one.
After nearly a century of entertaining the masses, the performers and managers of Music Hall began to see a decline in the number of faces in the audience. The end of the Second World War had brought about more than just peace. With young people suddenly freed from the hampering restrictions of Wartime curfews and daily blackouts, their lives were finally their own.
Young men, who had grown up as children throughout the War, could now breathe easy. Their brothers and fathers had served in the War so that they did not have to. Instead of being pressured to join the army and help the war effort, risking a very probable death, they could follow their dreams and do whatever they wished to.
Likewise, young women could look forward to much brighter futures. Many of them were forced to take on jobs during the War that would previously have been associated with men, they’d proven themselves worthy of those jobs and could now argue that they were more than capable to take them on full time.
Young people, as well those older ones that had survived both wars, were distinctly aware that they were living in a new modern era. With the War over, the great minds of the world could once more unite and collaborate on ideas that would completely revolutionise the way that people spent their spare time. Television, Cinema and an increasing focus on popular music on Radio meant that the British public now had a huge choice of entertainment. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like there was a place for Music Hall in this brave new world.
If you’re interested in seeing what remains of the Music Halls of yesterday, then there are a few still in existence, tucked away in corners around the country. Here are a handful that you can visit for yourself, all of which shouldn’t be too hard to find, even if you’re an International visitor!
Wilton Music Hall, London
Wilton Music Hall is conveniently placed near some of London’s biggest and most well known attractions, however it’s secluded location puts it well out of the line of the thousands of tourists that run rampant through the city each year. Touted as ‘the oldest grand music hall in the world’, Wilton was opened in 1859 and has been threatened with demolition several times during it’s near 170-year tenure.
If you want to leave your car somewhere safe and arrive at the Music Hall on foot, then London City Airport parking is you best bet. Otherwise, the Wilton is just a short walk away from Tower Hills tube station.
Colston Hall, Bristol
Bristol’s largest concert venue and a quintessential example of British Music Hall design, Colston Hall might have undergone significant redevelopment since it was opened back in 1867, but it still hasn’t lost it’s sense of Victorian grandeur. Although you might not be able to see the same kind of traditional entertainment that once graced that stage, the venue now plays host to bands, orchestras and comedians.
Colston Hall is currently under refurbishment, but the Concert Hall space is still very much in use. It’s easy to access, placed right in the centre of time, just a short walk away from Bristol Temple Meads Station. Parking can be easily be found at the nearby super market.
Hoxton Hall, London
Much like Wilton Music Hall, Hoxton Hall’s reputation was built on decades of successful Variety shows, hosting some of the most iconic faces of the Music Hall era. Marie Lloyd, Dan Leno and George Leybourne were just a few of the high profile names that performed . After a careful restoration in 2015, Hoxton Hall has become a highly accessible venue for both young and old.
Reachable by hopping off the tube at Old Street tube station or by getting off the at the Overground at Hoxton – parking is never easy in the centre of London, but you can usually find a space over on Shoreditch High Street (just be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it!).