Trocadero Music Hall
The site has a long and complicated history of development, much of it concerned with one form or another of public entertainment. Cottages existed before 1742. These had been replaced by 1744 by a tennis court. By the 1820s, this was in use as a circus, theatre and exhibition room. In 1829, part was noted as having been converted to a theatre. Two watercolour drawings of c.1832 show a plain front announcing ‘Cooke’s Equestrian Circus’. The theatre illustrated was narrow, with a pit, two tiers of shallow balconies along the sides and a small proscenium stage. This became known as the Royal Albion Theatre, also the New Queen’s Theatre. In the 1840s it was used for ‘mechanical waxworks’.
Robert Bignell, who had taken a lease, opened the Argyll Rooms there in 1850 or 51. This was an assembly rooms complex modelled on the more famous Argyll Rooms off Regent Street (closed 1830). By this time the building had an elaborate Italianate front, behind which was a lofty hall with an iron-fronted balcony on all sides. There was a great mirror behind the orchestra. A writer who had known it in the 1870s said that it operated ‘like a modern night club’, with music and dancing until morning. The place acquired a dubious reputation and lost its licence in 1878.
Bignell reconstructed the room in 1882 with a bar occupying almost the whole of one side and reopened it as the Trocadero Palace Music Hall. This lasted until 1894 under a sequence of licensees, with only patchy success.
The cutting of Shaftesbury Avenue in 1885-6 had left the Trocadero in a narrow link road (a cut-off part of Great Windmill Street) next to an acute junction with the Avenue and adjoining Wylson & Long’s Avenue Mansions, a block of shops and mansion flats.
J Lyons & Co acquired a lease of the Trocadero in 1896, converting it into a restaurant. From here they expanded laterally acquiring Avenue Mansions, which they linked with the restaurant, together with frontage land in Coventry Street. In 1924 they engaged C B Cochran to present cabaret and ‘supper time revues’ in the Grill Room, which was what remained of the Music Hall. Mecca took over in 1965 and the grill room became a bowling alley.
In the 1980s a sprawling complex carrying the name Trocadero was developed, covering a complete island site between Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street and incorporating the former Lyons’ Corner House in the latter street. In 2003 the name crossed Great Windmill Street to incorporate the London Pavilion (q.v.) island site. This was no doubt thought to be a sound move in terms of impressing a corporate image but, in the process, the historical record of the Trocadero itself has become thoroughly corrupted.
Although most of the façades, ranging from 1885 to the 1930s, have been kept, there has been massive and visually confusing internal reconstruction and it is not clear whether any part of the interior fabric of the former music hall was incorporated. However, the fine coloured plaster reliefs by Gerald Moira, installed in the restaurant in 1896, do survive in a stairway to the cinemas.
The one remaining façade that can be firmly related to the old Trocadero is in Franco-Flemish style in red sandstone. A footway has been formed behind it at ground floor level to allow widening of the carriageway. The complex includes a retail arcade, several floors of deafening amusements, restaurants, cinemas and offices.
See entry for London Pavilion for details of the most recently colonised building.
- 1820 : s-30s (theatre); 1882-95 (music hall); 1924-1940s (cabaret)
- Owner/Management: Later: Various lessees including Mecca
- 1743 - 1744 Design/Construction: Array as tennis courtUnknown- Architect
- 1820 Use: s-30s (theatre); 1882-95 (music hall); 1924-1940s (cabaret)
- 1823 Owner/Management: Charles Adams
- 1829 Alteration: internal conversion to a theatreUnknown- Architect
- 1831 Owner/Management: Cooke’s Royal Circus
- 1833 Owner/Management: N Elliott, licensee
- 1835 Owner/Management: Thomas Cooke, licensee
- 1840 - 1849 Owner/Management: John Dubourg
- 1842 Owner/Management: Sir John Musgrove, owner
- 1849 Owner/Management: George French Boyer, licensee
- 1850 Owner/Management: Charles Emile Laurent, licensee
- 1850 Alteration: rebuilt with Italianate front and large hall (Argyll Rooms)Unknown- Architect
- 1864 Owner/Management: Robert Bignell, owner
- 1882 Alteration: altered to music hallUnknown- Architect
- 1888 Owner/Management: Samuel Adams
- 1893 Owner/Management: H J Didcott & Albert Chevalier
- 1894 Owner/Management: Augustus Hibberd
- 1895 Owner/Management: J Lyons & Co, lessees
- 1896 Alteration: partly rebuilt as restaurant and linked to No 8 Shaftesbury AvenueJ Hatchard Smith with W J Ancell- Architect
- 1896 Design/Construction:Gerald Moira- Consultantplaster relief in restaurant
- 1900 - 1902 Alteration: Array further extension into Avenue MansionsW J Ancell- Architect
- 1901 Alteration: long barDenis & Emanuel- Architect
- 1921 Owner/Management: J Lyons & Co, owner
- 1924 Alteration: conversion to cabaretF J Wills- Architect
- 1980 - 1989 Alteration: incorporation into extensive Trocadero complex- Architect
- ListingNot listed