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Windmill Theatre Press and Marketing Material

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This material is held at V&A Department of Theatre and Performance
Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422
Dates of Creation c. 1940s-1960s
Name of Creator Windmill Theatre
Language of Material English
Physical Description 2 boxes (13 folders and 1 item)

Scope and Content

This collection features production, publicity, backstage and candid photographs and photographic negatives, press releases and press clippings relating to the Windmill Theatre, London, c.1940s-1960s.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Windmill Theatre opened in 1931, initially functioning as a venue for drama productions. After poor commercial success the theatre screened films for a period but eventually settled as a variety and revue venue, becoming best known for its creation of the Revudeville shows (running variety shows featuring song, dance and comedy that continued throughout the day) and its use of themed tableaux vivants. Inspired by the Parisian Folies Bergeres and Moulin Rouge shows, manager Vivian Van Damm introduced glamorous nude women known as the Windmill Girls - circumventing the Lord Chamberlain's (censor for all theatrical performances in London) censorship laws by ensuring his nudes remained in static poses, resembling living statues. Later on the fan dance was introduced as well as moving props, enabling the naked girls to move on stage whilst retaining their modesty and thus remaining 'legal'. These were a huge commercial success and the Windmill Girls toured their show to other London and regional venues.

The Windmill was famous for its motto 'We Never Closed', having stayed open (barring a compulsory closure of 12 days that affected all theatres in 1939) throughout the whole of the Second World War.

Owner Laura Henderson left the Windmill to Van Damm on her death in 1944. Rally driver Sheila Van Damm inherited the Windmill Theatre from her father after his death in 1960 and ran it until its closure in 1964. In 1964 she went on tour with a number of former Windmill artistes with her show The Windmill Revue. During its time many prominent British comedians performed on the Windmill stage, including Peter Sellers and Tony Hancock and the theatre itself was featured in a number of films, notably Murder at the Windmill (1949) and Mrs Henderson Presents (2005).

The theatre has had a number of different owners in the subsequent decades.

Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into the following series:

  • THM/422/1 - Photographs and negatives
  • THM/422/2 - Press releases
  • THM/422/3 - Press cuttings

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.

Access to some of these files may be restricted. These are identified at file level.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Acquisition Information

Gift to the Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre and Performance Department, 2011.

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

See also the core collections of the V&A Department of Theatre and Performance. Material relating to the Windmill Theatre may be found in several collections, including the biographical, productions, company and photographs files.

Please ask for details.

Subjects

Theatre -- Great Britain
Variety

Personal Names

Van Damm, Vivian. ( 1895-1960)
Van Damm, Sheila. ( 1922-1987)
Henderson, Laura. ( 1863-1944)
Hancock, Tony. ( 1924-1968)
Sellers, Peter. ( 1925-1980)

Geographical Names

Windmill Theatre -- London, United Kingdom

Cataloguing Info

Title Windmill Theatre Press and Marketing Material
Creation Created by Veronica Castro using the cheshire for archives ead creation tool 2012-08-02

Photographs and negatives

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/1
Dates of Creation c. 1940s-1960s
Physical Description 3 folders

Scope and Content

These folders contain photgraphic negatives and and a variety of promotional, production and candid photographs.


Photographic negatives

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/1/1
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1960s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains black & white and colour photographic negatives of various sizes including production, backstage, publicity and candid images. All are undated.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

This folder contains photographic negatives.


Photograph collection

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/1/2
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1960s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains black & white photographs including production, publicity, backstage and outdoor production images. Also included are images of a hairdressing event which took place at the Windmill. All are undated.


Photographs for the News of the World newspaper

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/1/3
Dates of Creation 1963
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a selection of black and white and colour production and publicity photographs sent to the News of the World newspaper for selection, including a letter to Sheila Van Damm from Kenneth H. Bandy (Windmill Theatre press officer) outlining their proposed use and a list of the photographs and their subjects, dated 1963.

Personal Names

Van Damme, Sheila. ( 1922-1987)

Photographic negative album

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/1/4
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1960s
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

This folder contains a small travel-seized photographic negative album which also contains printed copies of the images. All images are undated.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

This album contains photographic negatives.


Press releases and articles for publication

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/2
Dates of Creation c. 1940s-1960s
Physical Description 9 folders

Scope and Content

These folders contain press releases and articles written by Kenneth H. Bandy for publication.


Press information summaries

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/2/1
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1960s
Physical Description 5 folder

Scope and Content

These folders contain an incomplete series (numbers 3 to 129) of information summaries, dating from 1947 to 1963. These include details of new and upcoming shows, profiles of 'new girls' and news of general interest. All are written by Kenneth H. Bandy.


The Handlebar Club press releases

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/2/2
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1960s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains press releases relating to The Handlebar Club, undated.


Kenneth H. Bandy articles for publication

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/2/3
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1960s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains two articles written for publication by Kenneth H. Bandy, undated.


Murder at the Windmill press releases

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/2/4
Dates of Creation 1949
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains press releases related to the 1949 Val Guest film Murder at the Windmill.

Personal Names

Guest, Val. ( 1911-2006)

General press releases

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/2/5
Dates of Creation c.1940s-1960s
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains a number of general press releases relating to the Windmill Theatre. One is dated 1950, the rest are undated.


Press cuttings

Reference Number(s) GB 71 THM/422/3
Dates of Creation 1963-1964
Physical Description 1 folder

Scope and Content

This folder contains clippings from national newspapers relating to the closure of the Windmill Theatre and a ‘flasher’ incident. Dated 1963-64.