Friday, December 21, 2007

New Cross Xmas 1884: the Fun, the Frolic and the Mirth

Plenty of Pantomime action across South London this Christmas, with Aladdin at the Broadway Theatre in Catford, the Tinderbox at Deptford Albany and further afield Peter Pan in Bromley.
Nothing in New Cross itself, unlike in 1884 when 'the Great National Xmas Fair and South London Healtheries' took place in New Cross Public Hall. For 6d admission the attractions, as advertised on this poster, included Athletes, Juggling, Circus, Knife throwing, Swings, Theatre, Pantomime, Aunt Sally and Marrionettes.

Another poster for this event, held in the British Library's excellent Evanion collection of theatre memorabilia, provides more detail promising "Grand circus including the choicest gems of equestrian art! The most accomplished athletes and gymnasts! the most amusing, funny & grotesque clowns! the clever stud of trained horses and ponies! in fact the best circus in or out of London. … A Richardson's show! - on a scale not attempted in England for the last 50 years, the Grand Spectacular Pantomime entitled 'Harlequin Black Eyed Susan or the Black and Blue-Eyed Captain', supported by well-know London artistes...Burlesque, Comedy, Drama!". All this plus The Crown Minstrels ('a talented troupe of Negro Minstrels, Manager Mr. J. De Voye'), 'Phantasmagoria, or ghost illusions. Under the able direction of Mr. J D Humphreys' plus 'Peculiar dwarfs', 'Giant Ladies', elephants, leopards and performing camels. In short 'The Fun, the Frolic and the Mirth'.

I'm not sure where in New Cross the Public Hall stood, but the poster stated that for this event it was enlarged to hold 20,000 people. Also I have no idea what 'South London Healtheries' denotes. Any information/ideas welcome.

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