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One of the last of Frank Matcham's works before he retired and handed his practice over to F G M Chancellor, the Karsino was (to the state of present knowledge) quite unlike anything else he designed.

Fred Karno, the variety artiste and originator of a famous touring sketch company, had the Karsino built on Tagg's Island as a hotel and entertainment centre. More than half of the development consisted of a grand ballroom and dining theatre, whose stage could be opened up to face the garden in fine weather.

Externally, this was a pavilion-like building with a low lantern crowning its pyramidal roof. The form of the roof was expressed internally, with four broad corner piers flowing into massive sloping beams, converging to support the lantern light at the apex.

The stage was small, suitable for orchestral concerts and solo turns, rather than theatrical productions. It had a segmental proscenium arch. The auditorium, with window bays down the sides (again, openable to the garden) and arched clerestorey above, was prettily decorated with treillage patterns. The great panels between the ceiling beams were painted with landscapes, viewed as if over a terrace balustrade.

Karno failed to attract the well-heeled patrons he had hoped for. The building, however, survived until 1971.

Built / Converted
Dates of use
  • 1913 - 1928
Current state
Current use
Tagg's Island, Hampton, London, Richmond, TW12, England
Further details
Other names
  • 1913 Design/Construction:
    Frank Matcham
    - Architect
  • 1913 Owner/Management: Fred Karno
  • 1913 - 1928 Use:
  • 1971 Demolition:
  • Listing
    Not listed
Stage type
Building dimensions: -
Stage dimensions: -
Proscenium width: -
Height to grid: -
Inside proscenium: -
Orchestra pit: -