Bedford Theatre

93-95 Camden High Street,
London, NW1 7JL

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Bedford Theatre

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Located in the northwest London inner-city district of Camden Town. Originally the Bedford Arms Tavern and Tea Garden had stood on this site from 1824-1861. In 1861 a theatre named the Bedford Music Hall was built, designed by architect Edward Clark. This later became the New Bedford Palace of Varieties.

Between 1896-98 it was reconstructed to the plans of architect Bertie Crewe and re-opened as the New Bedford Theatre. Seating was provided for 488 in pit and stalls, 238 in the dress circle and 426 in the gallery with 16 seats in boxes. The theatre was a favourite haunt of Victorian artist/painter Walter Sickert who imortalised on canvas many scenes within the theatre.

The Bedford Theatre was taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in 1933 and they operated it until 24th June 1939 when it was taken over by Odeon Theatres Ltd. until closing as a cinema on 11th December 1939 with George Formby in “Keep Your Hats On”.

The Bedford Theatre then returned to it former use as a live variety theatre until closing in 1959. It lay empty and unused for many years gradually deteriorating until it was finally demolished in 1969. Retail premises were built on the narrow footprint of the entrance foyer, but it took several more years before the space where the auditorium had once stood was built upon with a residential block.

The Bedford Theatre can be seen in two films; “Trottie True”(1949) starring Jean Kent and a documentary “The London Nobody Knows”(1967) which has actor James Mason wandering around the auditorium of the dilapidated and soon to be demolished theatre.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 24, 2006 at 2:48 pm

Here is a link to more details and history of the Bedford Theatre plus some photographs:
http://www.johnbarber.com/bedford.html

Some more history and photos at this site:
http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Bedford.htm

One of the last photographs of the Bedford Theatre + some more history:
http://www.tnunn.f2s.com/bedford.htm

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on January 24, 2006 at 2:56 pm

The Bedford Theatre can also be seen in the 1952 film “The Secret People” when it ‘stood in’ for a Dublin theatre. Audrey Hepburn had an early role in this British made crime drama.

abcman
abcman on October 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm

A DVD of ‘The London Nobody Knows’ has now been released and James Mason cam be seen going round the Old Bedford Theatre. Very interesting short film it is too.

tobysears
tobysears on January 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

my intrest is in the decoration of the booking hall to the rear of the stage from 1899 to 1933 when it became a cinema. especially the opening night and the early years. the wall panels were painted in the style of well known painters by louis quatorze /velasqez etc does anybody have or know of any photos prints that may assist my research or any institute that may help me.

my reason is that i believe i have a oil painting of the festive occasion of the opening night

SJohns
SJohns on May 21, 2013 at 6:20 am

hi tobysears, I may be able to help with question of the lobby interior. Do you have a contact email?

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