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THM/2 - Frank Matcham and Company, theatre architects: records
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Frank Matcham and Company, theatre architects: records

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This material is held at V&A Museum: Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2
Dates of Creation 1881-1972
Name of Creator Frank Matcham and Company
Language of Material English
Physical Description 140 folders

Scope and Content

Working drawings for theatres designed by Frank Matcham's architectural practice, including original "contract sets", pre-contract drawings and survey plans, blueprints, negatives and tracings. This archive represents a substantial part of Frank Matcham's total output of work.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis (Frank) Matcham was one of the most prolific theatre architects of all time. Born in Devon in 1854, he was apprenticed to a local architect and to a quantity surveyor in London. In the 1870s he joined the firm of Jethro Thomas Robinson, theatre architectural adviser to the Lord Chamberlain, and subsequently married his employer's daughter. In 1878 he took over the practice on Robinson's death.

From 1879 to 1912 Matcham built or rebuilt over 150 theatres across Britain, and introduced innovations such as cantilevered galleries. His emphasis was on practicalities (maximising audiences and ensuring good sightlines) but he also created rich interiors in a variety of styles. Examples of his theatre work include the Grand Opera House in Belfast, the Grand Theatre in Blackpool, the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, Richmond Theatre in Surrey, the Gaiety Theatre in Douglas (Isle of Man), the Hackney Empire, the Shepherd's Bush Empire, the London Palladium and, perhaps most famously, the London Coliseum. He also designed pubs, cinemas, hotels, the County Arcade in Leeds, and the Tower Ballroom and Circus in Blackpool. Matcham died in 1920.

Arrangement

These records have been arranged by project, generally according to the inherited roll numbering system from Frank Matcham's practice. The Hackney Empire drawings (originally rolls 9 A to H) were removed from the sequence for a pilot cataloguing exercise and the reference number created for that exercise (THM/2/1) has been retained. For this reason and because there is no material in the archive realting to some of the original roll numbers, there is some variance between roll numbers and archive reference numbers, although this has been kept to a minimum. Series number THM/2/16 is not used.

Only the Hackney Empire drawings, THM/2/1, have been catalogued to file level (by John Earl). In all other cases, series level descriptions have been provided: these are based on two conservation surveys carried out in 1995 and 1996. Due to restrictions on handling, many of the covering dates and extents provided are approximate or cannot be verified.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for consultation in the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance's Reading Room, which is located at Blythe House, 23 Blythe Rd, Olympia, London, W14 0QX. The Reading Room is open Tuesday to Friday between 10.15 am and 4.30 pm. Access to it is by appointment only. To request an appointment please email tmenquiries@vam.ac.uk or telephone 020 7942 2698.

Many of the drawings are vulnerable and require conservation work before they can be handled. Firm restrictions are identified at file level, but all items are issued at the discretion of the archivist and researchers are advised to check availability before confirming their appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Archive material may not be photocopied. Arrangements can be made to photograph material in the reading room using non-flash photography.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Henry Montague, 1995

Custodial History

The remainder of the drawings from Matcham and Company are thought to have been destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. Many of those acquired had been water-damaged prior to their purchase by the Museum.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also V&A Department of Theatre and Performance core collections: material relating to the theatres designed by Frank Matcham and Company may be found in theatre buildings folders. There is also a biographical file on Frank Matcham. Please ask for details.

Original drawings for the London Coliseum are held by that theatre.

Bibliography

Iain Mackintosh, 'Matcham, Francis (1854-1920)', rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37745, accessed 20 Nov 2008]

Subjects

Theater - Great Britain - History - 19th century
Theater - Great Britain - History - 20th century
Theater architecture

Personal Names

Matcham, Frank. ( 1854-1920)

Geographical Names

Hackney Empire, London, England
London Palladium, London, England
London Colliseum, London, England
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, England
Grand Opera House, Belfast, Ireland

Cataloguing Info

Title Frank Matcham and Company, theatre architects: records
Sub-title Catalogue of records in the Victoria & Albert Museum: Department of Theatre and Performance
Author Catalogued by Guy Baxter based on previous listings by John Earl, Jim Fowler, Pauline Webber, Pip Hunt and Jane Rowlands.
Revisions

Drawings for the Hackney Empire theatre, London

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1
Dates of Creation ca.1900-1937
Physical Description 7 folders (157 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll numbers: 9 A,B,C,D,E,F,H


Working drawings, mainly ink on linen-backed cartridge paper, prepared for the original contract and signed by the contractor (F. and H.F. Higgs), together with some closely related items including revisions and tracings.

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1/1
Dates of Creation 1901
Physical Description 28 items

Scope and Content

The "contract set" drawings bear the Matcham office numbers 1 to 18 (lacking 10) and relate to the theatre as originally designed, with a broad frontage to Mare Street. Revisions show the narrower frontage, more or less as built.


Working drawings, in a variety of media including ink on tracing cloth and pencil on tracing paper, relating to the "contract set" (THM/2/1/1)

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1/2
Dates of Creation ca.1901
Physical Description 27 items

Scope and Content

Includes a set of negatives closely matching the "contract set".


Working drawings, in pencil and ink on prepared tracing paper, relating to the original contract

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1/3
Dates of Creation ca.1901
Physical Description 6 items

Scope and Content

Includes several items closely related to the "contract set", including drawings showing plaster ornament.


Working drawings and prints in various media relating to the original contract, including designs for the auditorium ceiling and for the iron entrance and queue canpoies

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1/4
Dates of Creation ca.1901
Physical Description 8 items

Scope and Content

Some items have fragile tracing paper overlays, now detatched.


Blueprints for the engineering work for the original contract

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1/5
Dates of Creation 1901
Physical Description 16 items

Scope and Content

One drawing bears the stamp of consulting engineer E. Winglfield Bowles, others are by structural engineers Walter Jones and Sons


Pre-contract drawings relating to the Hackney Empire, in various media

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1/6
Dates of Creation ca.1900-1901
Physical Description 26 items

Scope and Content

Includes survey plans of the site and existing buildings, drawings of alterations to adjoining properties, designs for new shops, plans certified by the District Surveyor and tracings of Ordnance Survey maps (marked with the positions of licensed premises in preparation for a licensing application).


Working drawings and diagrams, including tracings and prints, relating to later (mostly minor) works at the theatre designed by the Matcham practice

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/1/7
Dates of Creation 1920-1937
Physical Description 46 items

Scope and Content

Includes designs for new projection rooms, air handling equipment and exit stairs, also diagrams showing the positions of film projection ports. Many designs show alterations superimposed on earlier drawings.


Drawings for the Brighton Theatre of Varieties, Cinema, Restaurant and Winter Gardens

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/2
Dates of Creation ca.1919
Physical Description 2 folders (89 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll numbers: 1 A, B


Drawings for Buxton Opera House

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/3
Dates of Creation ca.1902
Physical Description 1 folder (19 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 2


Drawings for alterations to the Holborn Empire theatre (Royal Music Hall), London

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/4
Dates of Creation 1896-1909
Physical Description 3 folders (106 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll numbers: 4 A, B, C


Drawings for the Palace Theatre, Hull

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/5
Dates of Creation 1931-1952
Physical Description 1 folder (122 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 5


Drawings for the Stoll Picture Theatre, Liverpool

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/6
Dates of Creation ca.1928
Physical Description 1 folder (approx. 100 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 6

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this series is restricted for conservation reasons.


Drawings for the Manchester Hippodrome (Ardwick Empire)

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/7
Dates of Creation 1902-1946
Physical Description 4 folders (274 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll numbers: 7 A,B,C,D


Drawings for the Chatham Empire theatre

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/8
Dates of Creation 1910-1938
Physical Description 4 folders

Scope and Content

Original roll numbers: 8 A,B,C,D

Conditions Governing Access

Access to part of this series is restricted for conservation reasons.


Drawings for the King's Theatre, Southsea

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/9
Dates of Creation ca.1907
Physical Description 1 folder (10 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 10 A


Drawings for the King's Theatre, Glasgow

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/10
Dates of Creation ca.1904
Physical Description 1 folder (26 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 10 B


Drawings for the Garrick Theatre, London

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/11
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 1 folder (124 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 11

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this series is restricted for conservation reasons.


Drawings for the Shaftesbury Theatre, London

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/12
Dates of Creation 1908-1926
Physical Description 1 folder (86 items)

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 12


Drawings for the Old Vic theatre, London

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/13
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 2 folders

Scope and Content

Original roll numbers: 13 A, B


Drawings for a new cinema, Lytham St. Anne's (Blackpool Tower Ltd)

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/14
Dates of Creation undated
Physical Description 2 folders

Scope and Content

Original roll numbers: 14 A, B

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this series is restricted for conservation reasons.


Drawings for a cinema, Oxford

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/2/15
Dates of Creation ca.1922
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

Original roll number: 15

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this series is restricted for conservation reasons.