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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Lepers, Beer, and Thespians
Once St Giles's Leper Hospital...now a cracking theatre.
Location: 268-269 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 7AQ
Description: Located on Tottenham Court Road close to St Giles' Circus and Centre Point Tower, the 'Dominion Theatre' was constructed in 1928 and became a cinema in 1930.
No longer used for movie premieres, it's main use now if for live stage shows and concerts with an enviable seating capacity of 2,182.
The building was originally constructed in 1928 and converted to cinema use in 1930. In addition to the main theatre building, there is a large administrative / dressing room block on the right hand side and a terrace of shops, offices and residential buildings on the left overlooking Great Russell Street.
According to the book 'The Theatres of London' by Richard Mander and Joe Mitchenson, this was once the site for the St Giles's Leper Hospital, founded in 1101 by Matilda, Queen of Henry I. A brewery had covered the ground as far back as 1764, and in 1809 Henry Meux took possession of the brewery, naming it Meux's Brewery.
In 1814 it was the scene of a disaster which killed seven in slum houses adjacent to the porter brew tanks here. 7,600 barrels of porter were released swamping local abodes and drowning locals in alcohol.
This building was eventually pulled down in 1922, and while the site was vacant, it was used by O'Brien's Fun Fair. In 1925 the site was levelled and opened as 'Luna Park'.
The Dominion opened on 3rd October 1929 with an American musical comedy on golf by De Sylvia Brown and Henderson called Follow Through (Follow Thru on Broadway).