Britannia Theatre Shoreditch | WW2 Photos

Britannia Theatre, Hoxton Street, Shoreditch, was burned out by Hitler early in 1940, and completely wrecked by a land mine on December 8, the same year.

These photos of WW2 bomb damage in London are from a collection of newspaper and magazine articles published in England during World War Two. My late grandfather gave these to me as he knew I was interested in London history.

Britannia Theatre Shoreditch London
Britannia Theatre Shoreditch London
Britannia Theatre Shoreditch WW2
Britannia Theatre Shoreditch WW2

First the Pimlico Tavern stood on this site, a resort of poets and players mentioned by Ben Jonson. In 1841, by that time known as the Britannia, it had a saloon in its garden at the back, and its owner, Samual Lane, set out to rival the Eagle in City Road.

In 1858 Lane rebuilt the Britannia as a splendid new theatre. Under his management and later under that of his wife Sarah, who survived him for many years, it became one of the most celebrated of music-halls Its famous artists included Chirgwin, Topsy Sinden, G. H. McDermott, George Leybourne, Marie Lloyd, Charles Coborn, Albert Chevalier, Dan Leno and Herbert Campbell.

The Tichborne Claimant made appearances here both before and after his imprisonment. In recent years the “Brit” had been a picture theatre. In 1923 the Britannia was converted into a Cinema and gave up live productions, showing films exclusively.

Today the site of the Britannia Theatre is occupied by modern apartments / flats.

6 thoughts on “Britannia Theatre Shoreditch | WW2 Photos”

  1. Great read, thank you. Sarah Lane (nee Borrow) was my dad’s great, great aunt so I will enjoy sharing this with him in his 91st year 🙂 Thank you x

  2. Stanley Marshall

    Wow! Small world.
    I commented earlier about my GGG mother.Court dress maker.
    I have recently found her birth certificate,, and other info.
    Her name was Sarah Debouss, or Debuse, hard to,tell.
    Her father’s name was Herve Dxxxx.
    They were Huegenous ? ( not sure of the spelling the docs are not very clear).The Hugeous where silk weavers. Many houses in the east end are noted as being occupied by the Huegenous.
    She mariied my GGG D James Marshall.
    We live close to Rochester=in Kent. They have a “ museum” devoted to the Heugont family’s that came to England to avoid persecution from the=French RC..
    going there next week.
    Regards Stan

  3. Loving these East London posts, Malcolm!

    Would be interested in 19th century silk weaving stories. An ancestor who lived on London Street, Bethnal Green (where the rail line goes through now) was a silk weaver.

    1. stanley Marshall

      Hello all,
      I find these memories amazing.
      I was born in Bethnal Green 81 years ago. I found out recently that my GGG G D, had a daughter who was a Court dress maker. Wow!
      I tell my children , grandchildren and any body who will not interrupt me about
      My memories about collecting coke the fuel that kept us warm.
      I used to go to Haggerstone gas light and coke company to collect a hundred Weight of coke to keep our prefab warm
      Any prefabers out there.?
      Out of the prefabs across the bomb site through to,Eleanor Rd., through London Fields, through the Broadway market keep going turn right.after the canal . There was the line of coke collectors. Old men and women dressed in black, children with snotty noses and the posh kids like me , I wore socks on my feet and hands and had a milk bottle e of cocoa. Cold by the time I got to London Fields.Memories are strange, sometime we ask ourselves was it all true . Oh yes it was true.
      I was one of the lucky kids my Dad come home from WW2. my Mum worked in the Richmond Rd laundry, there was a few pennies over to send me to Northern Poly Tech.
      Now were is that that IPad, mobile phone etc.,
      Never forget tell your grandchildren and great grand children.
      Regards to,all Stan.

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