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Albany Empire


Originally established in 1894 to support charitable enterprises in the local community, the Deptford Fund quickly decided to fund its own projects within a purpose built centre. In 1898 the foundation stone of the Albany Institute was laid and the building was officially opened by its patron, the Duchess of Albany, in 1899. Paul Curno was appointed director in 1966. In 1972 a Brighton based theatre company, The Combination, led by creative director Jenny Harris, become resident at the Albany Institute with a brief to transform the old and forbidding Victorian building into a vibrant fusion of community work and the arts. Projects included community health initiatives, outreach projects on the Pepys Estate, a free school, fringe theatre and community plays. One of the many campaigns that the Albany supported in the 1970s was Rock Against Racism (RAR), a national anti-racism campaign which brought black and white musicians together in a series of concerts. On 14 July 1978 the Albany Empire, the name The Combination had given to the Albany's theatre, was destroyed by a fire that was blamed on arson. A new building to replace the entire Albany Institute was already being planned due to the compulsory purchase of the site for a road widening scheme. A temporary refurbishment resulted in the building re-opening in December 1978 with a workshop production in the converted basement theatre space. In January 1979 the show transferred into the newly rebuilt main theatre as its opening production. The new Albany in Douglas Way opened on 18 May 1982 and the old building finally closed for demolition in December 1982.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
Current state
Current use
47 Creek Road, Deptford, London, Lewisham, SE8 3BU,
Further details
Other names
Albany Institute
  • 1899 Design/Construction: centre for charitable enterprises
  • 1979 Design/Construction: rebuilt following 1978 fire
  • 1982 Demolition: replacement by the Albany in Douglas Way
Stage type
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Stage dimensions: -
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Orchestra pit: -