This series is based on an autobiography entitled “A Bachelor’s Yarns” written by my husband’s great uncle, William Prouten Tucker. William was one of a set of identical twin boys born on December 23, 1871, in Shanklin, Hampshire, England. His parents were Richard and Eliza (Prouten) Tucker.
A year after the end of my apprenticeship, I received notice and for some time worked for a cousin who was head of a printing firm in the City and lived at Lordship Lane Wood Green where I went to live with him and here I played football for Wood Green and I remember a match we played one Sat in a blizzard only 10 minutes each half.
William’s apprenticeship contract indicated a six year commitment, which would have ended on the first of June, 1892. I was hoping to be able to find the date of the Wood Green football game William describes. Monthly weather reports from 1884 to 1993 have been digitized by the Met Office. Oddly, I could find no mention of a heavy snow storm in the 1890s that fell on a Saturday. There were several that fell midweek. The description of the collection does state that only preliminary reports have been digitized and any subsequent corrections are unavailable. Therefore, it is possible that a storm was missed. It is also possible that the snowfall experienced was not what we today would call a blizzard.
Amongst other printing my firm published a Music Hall paper called “The Encore”. One day the Boss said to me Billy I want you to go with me to-night and make a sketch of the Ballet at the Alhambra. I protested that I was no good at drawing figures but he insisted on my going.
So in the evening we went off in his brougham and our first call was at the Canterbury Music Hall—there I sat in the front watching a few turns whilst he did his business—before leaving I had a whisky at the Bar with one of the artists.
A brougham (pronounced broo-em) was a small carriage usually pulled by a single horse, as seen in this footage from the Huntley Film Archives:
The Canterbury was located at 143 Westminster Bridge Road in Lambeth.
According to the site www.arthurlloyd.co.uk, a wonderful resource for information on music hall performers and theatres, the Canterbury’s bar, where William had his whisky with one of the artists, was for many years a favored meeting place for music hall performers.
From there we went to the Oxford where I had another whisky, a form of drink I was owt used to and when we reached the Alhambra he put me in the [Oren] Circle to make the sketch of the Ballet—what with the whisky and my inability I produced nothing and was glad when the time came to leave and we proceeded to the Pavillion Music Hall and whilst the Boss went to interview Marie Lloyd in her dressing room I stood at the wings where I could see the audience and watched some Japanese Acrobats performing—all a wonderful experience to me—after my quiet apprenticeship.
The Oxford Music Hall, located at 6 Oxford Street, had been torn down and completely rebuilt in 1892, reopening in January 1893. Entrances were located on both Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road.
The Alhambra was one of the most famous music halls of the time, located in Leicester Square at the current site of the Odeon Theatre. Both the Alhambra and its rival, the Empire, also in Leicester Square, were known for their ballet performances. These shows often starred internationally-trained ballerinas backed by large numbers of dancers from the working classes.
The Pavilion was located at Piccadilly Circus, on the corners of Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street.
In 1895, Marie Lloyd was performing one of her four nightly shows at the London Pavilion. Marie was well-known for double-entendre. The lyrics of her songs were not blatantly obscene, but the manner in which she performed them with nudges, winks and knowing smiles made them a hit with the music hall audience, primarily composed of the working classes and rich young men.