The Oldest "Surviving" Purpose-Built Music Hall

…was the Clarence Music Hall, above the main entrance to Greenwich Market. Built in 1832, it was included as the equivalent of today’s “entertainment complexes” that seem to have to be included in new public developments, when Sir Joseph Kay redesigned the area. Its entrance was at Number 7a and the main room spanned the archway. It was traditionally linked with The Admiral Hardy, but sadly that’s about all I can find out about it so far.

A 1991 book by Darrell Spurgeon says it was, at the time he was writing, mooted to be a museum, but it would seem that that money started talking and it became the “Time Bar” and, now, of course, “Inc” with those Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen designs and the erotic wallpaper.

I haven’t been in there since I found a fly in my very expensive cocktail and the waitress merely giggled and walked away.

But back to the Music Hall. I find it absolutely astonishing that in no book I own or anywhere on the Internet can I find anything more about this lost palace of entertainment. When Darrell Spurgeon was writing it was an empty room and the gallery was already enclosed but it seems that like so many other things in Greenwich’s history, Clarence Music Hall has been forgotten.

Rebecca agrees – she writes:

I’m interested in the Admiral Hardy and the old music hall – as to what sort of music they’d have put on there and also any direct links to history of the market, which goes into more depth than just skimming over – which seems to be the case on the net.

The Phantom continues:

I am horribly busy at the moment, so I don’t have time just yet to look into these, but I’m posting this in case anyone else knows any more. I know there are some historic-sleuths out there who might like to get their teeth into this one.

My suggestions for places to go on this would be The Heritage Centre at Woolwich (a lovely, lovely facility, but such a faff to get to I don’t get to it nearly as much as I’d like)and The Theatre Museum – yes I know it’s closed but they’re moving to the V&A and they have a research department. If no one gets to it before I’m less busy, I’ll go myself – but it’s in Olympia and I just don’t have time just now. In the meanwhile, a suggested reading list can be found here

For more general information about the market, see first here then – sorry – it’s a trot back to the Heritage Centre in the depths of Woolwich…

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