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The Agricultural Hall (1862 - 1943)



  • Existence: 1862 - 1943
  • Usage: 1862 - 1884
  • Usage: 1884 - 1943


The Agricultural Hall opened in 1862 in Islington, London. It was built by the Royal Smithfield Club to hold annual exhibitions of livestock, agricultural produce and agricultural implements. In 1884 it was renamed the Royal Agricultural Hall.

The Hall held the Royal Smithfield Club's Smithfield Show from its inception until 1938, when the show had grown so big that it had to be moved to Olympia. It was also the venue for the first ever Crufts dog show in 1891 and hosted the Royal Tournament from 1880 until it also became too large and had to be moved to Olympia in the early 20th century.

During the Second World War, the hall was requisitioned by the Government, and served as a parcel depot sorting office from 1943. After the war the Hall was abandoned for decades until businessman Sam Morris bought it in 1986 to convert it into a modern exhibition venue and conference centre called The Business Design Centre. The Business Design Centre continues operating today and it’s a Grade II listed building.

Found in 17 Collections and/or Records:

Agricultural Hall Poster, c1838 - 1842

Reference code: 178R53.21
Scope and Contents Black type on green background. St. Mary's Hall, Islington, Messrs. Poole's The World gigantic pictorial enterprise, The Wars in South Africa and Afghanistan, Grand Nautical Effect, British Fleet Forcing the Dardanelles, General Robert's Triumphal Entry into Cabul, Destruction of H.M.S. Doterel, The Assassination of the Czar of Russia, Holy Land, Capitals of Europe, Miss Ada Violet Poole, G.H. Henry & L.D. Poynter, Herr Blitz, Mr Felix Somers, Mr Oscar Hartwell. Printed by James Upton,...
Dates: c1838 - 1842

Bill Barnes Collection

Reference code: NFA0172
Scope and Contents

Programmes, posters and photographs mainly related to the Poole family's travelling Myriorama show.

Dates: 1881 - 2017

Circus Friends Association Collection

Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Crecraft’s Exhibition Handbill, c1874

 Item — Box John Barmwell Taylor Box 2: Series 178T1
Reference code: 178T1.247
Scope and Contents

The Original Mr and Mrs Tommy Dodd at the Agricultural Hall, London. “The King and Queen of the Lilliputians”. Printed by Alfred Ballard, Steam Printer, Cannon Street Road, E, London.

Dates: c1874

Handbills, c1786 - 1968

 Series — Box John Barmwell Taylor Box 1: Series 178T1
Reference code: 178T1
Scope and Contents

Handbills for travelling shows, fairs, exhibitions and performances in London.

Dates: c1786 - 1968

Handbills and Flyers, for a Variety of Locations, often featuring Illustrations, c1790 - 1939

 Sub-Series — Box John Barmwell Taylor Box 2: Series 178T1
Reference code: 178T1.236-342
Scope and Contents

Handbills for travelling shows, fairs, exhibitions and performances at a wide range of venues.

Dates: c1790 - 1939

John Bramwell Taylor Collection

Reference code: NFA0086
Scope and Contents The collection consists of handbills, programmes and small flyers for shows, fairs, expositions and circus performances in the nineteenth century. The circus material in the Bramwell Taylor Collection was sponsored by the Circus Friends Association of Great Britain and consists of material relating to 19th century touring circuses, individual acts and purpose built hippodromes such as Hengler’s Circus and Astley’s Amphitheatre. Additionally this collection also contains a small amount of...
Dates: c1786 - 2003

Mohawk Minstrels Poster, 21 October 1885

Reference code: 178R53.15
Scope and Contents

Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington. Annual Benefit, 20 Songs for the Occasion, Principal London Variety Artistes. Black type on white background. Printed by Aubert's Steam Printing Works, Maiden Lane, Strand.

Dates: 21 October 1885

Monographs, Articles, Manuscripts and Research Material, c1795 - 1999

Reference code: 178B30
Scope and Contents

Compilation of monographs, articles, manuscripts and a range of research material about circus companies and performers in the United Kingdom, Europe and other parts of the world by various authors, the research was mainly compiled by Hal Thomas.

Dates: c1795 - 1999

Posters, c1880 - 1899

Reference code: 178R53
Scope and Contents

Poster related to the Poole family film shows, Gompertz's diorama and other early cinema travelling shows and venues.

Dates: c1880 - 1899

Posters, c1800 - 2011

Reference code: 178R47
Scope and Contents

A wide range of British and international circus and menagerie posters ranging from the 19th to the 21st century including Astley's Amphitheatre, Pablo Fanque, Polito, Bostock and Wombwell, Ducrow, Cooke, Hengler, Sanger, Smart, Gerry Cottle, Bertram Mills, Chipperfield's, Robert Brothers, Fossett, Blackpool Tower, Billy Russell, Belle Vue, Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, Austen Brothers and many more.

Dates: c1800 - 2011

Prof. Hamblett Handbill, 1908 - 1911

 Item — Box John Barmwell Taylor Box 2: Series 178T1
Reference code: 178T1.271
Scope and Contents

Expert Character Reader direct from the World's Fair at The Royal Agricultural Hall, London. A flyer with 64 personality points.

Dates: 1908 - 1911

Programmes, c1800 - 2019

Reference code: 178K43
Scope and Contents

A collection of mainly British and international circus programmes and some variety and music hall programmes containing circus acts.

Dates: c1800 - 2019

Programmes for Circuses at the New World's Fair, Royal Agricultural Hall, 1900 - 1939

Reference code: 178K43.650
Scope and Contents

Programmes for circuses at the new World's Fair, Royal Agricultural Hall including Billy Wilson's Circus, Carl Hagenbeck, Circus Krone and Althoff's Circus, containing monochrome and colour illustrations on the front covers, inside black and white photographs of perfomers and acts with some text and illustrations including the Naito Troupe, Alfred Court and The South China Troupe, programme and commercial advertising.

Dates: 1900 - 1939

The Hippodrome, Great Yarmouth Monograph, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178B30.28
Scope and Contents

History and uses of the Hippodrome and the acts appearing in it, a well as details of George Gilbert's temporary circus building in Great Yarmouth and winter circus seasons at the Agricultural Hall, 1893-1954, Norwich by H.T.G. Tinkler, bound volume in brown leather and fabric covers with gold type on spine, approximately 300p.p. Typescript.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian Circus Posters, c1800 - 1930

Reference code: 178R47.1-51
Scope and Contents

Early circus and menagerie posters including Polito's menagerie, Astley's Amphitheatre and Pablo Fanque's, Sanger's, Powell's, Ducrow's, Cooke's and Hengler's circuses among others.

Dates: c1800 - 1930

World's Fair Poster, c1800 - 1899

Reference code: 178R47.11
Scope and Contents

Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, open 23rd December till 12th February. Black and white photograph of a horse with extremely long hair on both mane and tail with black type around it advertising Linus, the world's wonder born at Oregon, U.S.A. The only double maned horse in existence. Printed by Sam Lightgow, Art and Decorative Show Printer, 79 Surrey Street, Glasgow.

Dates: c1800 - 1899