Honouring Islington’s famous stage
Finsbury Park Empire – which was once one of London’s most famous music halls and variety theatre’s has just received its Islington People’s Plaque.
The 2000-seat theatre opened in 1910 and played host to many stage and screen ‘greats’ including Marie Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy, Max Miller and Tony Hancock.
It was designed by celebrated theatre architect Frank Matcham for Moss Empires Ltd at a cost of £45,000, but was demolished in 1965 and Vaudeville Court, a council block of flats, was built in its place.
The Empire was one of three winners of the 2016 Islington People’s Plaque’s awards, voted for by local residents. Its plaque was unveiled on Tuesday 10 October and is located on the front of the block in St Thomas’s Road.
The theatre is also known for featuring many firsts: like Britain’s first all-women’s variety show in 1914, with Marie Lloyd topping the bill; the first public performance of the magic trick ‘sawing a person in half’ which was performed by British magician P.T. Selbit in January 1921; and the UK’s first all-American variety show in which singer Sophie Tucker made her UK debut in 1922.