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ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Weston's Music Hall
The first full-length feature film premiered here in 1914
Location: 242-5 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
Description: Weston's Music Hall was a music hall and theatre that opened on 16 November 1857 at this very address.
Constructed on the site of the Six Cans and Punch Bowl Tavern, the licensed victualler of the premises, Henry Weston had already transformed the former Holborn National Schoolrooms into a music hall several years before.
This purpose built hall was his response to the success of Charles Morton's Canterbury Music Hall in Lambeth. In 1861, Morton struck back by opening the Oxford Music Hall, nearby in Oxford Street; a development Weston opposed on the grounds there were already too many music halls in the area
In 1906, the theatre auditorium was remodelled by Frank Matcham at a cost of 30,000 pounds, and was renamed the Holborn Empire, becoming a part of the Moss Empires group, remaining as the last surviving variety theatre in the West End, also performing special theatrical matinees.
The theatre premiered the first full-length feature film in 1914, The World, the 'Flesh and the Devil', a 50-minute melodrama filmed in Kinemacolour.
In 1926, comedians Flanagan and Allen were booked by Val Parnell for a debut at the theatre, and Margaret Lockwood made her first stage appearance at the age of 12, in 1928, as a fairy in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The building was hit the following night by another bomb and too badly damaged to reopen. It was finally pulled down in 1960.