The theatre in Portugal Street, London
Scanned from ‘Old and New London – Its History, its people and its places’, published by Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co. 1878.
A theatre has stood on the site since the 17th century. Known as Gibbon’s Tennis Court, or the Vere Street Theatre. Mrs Hughes became the first woman to tread the boards of a London theatre, on 8 December 1660, in a performance of Othello. The company left the theatre in 1663 and there is no record of further plays at the theatre. The building was finally destroyed by fire in 1809.
The Holman Opera Troupe were lessees of the London Opera House. Mr. George Holman, his wife, his daughter Sallie Holman and another daughter, and two sons, with some others, including William H. Crane and Sallie`s husband Mr. J. T. Dalton, which toured throughout Canada for many years.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the creation of Aldwych and Kingsway, linking High Holborn and Aldwych, destroyed a number of established London playhouses and the site between Portugal Street and Sardinia Street became available. New York-based theatre impresario Oscar Hammerstein I (the grandfather of Oscar Hammerstein II) commissioned Bertie Crewe, to build a new theatre in the Beaux-Arts style. The theatre opened on 13 November 1911 as the London Opera House. It had an approximately 45 feet (13.7 m) by 78 feet (23.8 m) stage, and a capacity of 2,660. As an opera house, it found it difficult to attract audiences from the Royal Opera House, and from 1914–15 the house became the National Theatre of England.