22-28 December 1914: Christmas Concerts

The Tooting and Balham Gazette of 26 December reported on a matinee concert held at Balham Hippodrome in aid of the Home Defence League Equipment Fund. The paper praised the artistes involved, saying “it speaks volumes for the profession – probably the hardest hit of any by the war – that so many prominent performers in the music-hall world figured on the programme”. The acts performing included Gus Garrick, singing The Kaiser and Any Old Iron, which was reported as being very funny and a hit with the audience (Garrick appears on this Cambridge postcard in 1898 and was appearing in films in the 1930s, so obviously had a long career). Several of the other acts were highlighted as performing patriotic material, including “local favourites” Will Deller and Ernest Shand.

The afternoon ended with local business man Edwin Evans, president of the South West Division of the Home Defence League, thanking the audience, the performers and the Hippodrome for the fundraising event. The League consisted of nearly 2000 trained men ready to defend Balham and Wandsworth.

(c) Wandsworth Heritage Service

(c) Wandsworth Heritage Service

The Hippodrome had opened in 1899 as the Royal Duchess Theatre on Balham Hill. It became the Hippodrome in 1909 and closed in the 1930s, after various owners had financial difficulties. During the Second World War it was badly damaged and subsequently demolished.

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