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Wilton's Music Hall (Established 1859)



  • Existence: Established 1859


Wilton’s was first established as a Victorian music hall in 1859 by John Wilton.

The story of the Wilton started when John Wilton acquired a row of buildings between Graces Alley and Wellclose Square, which included houses, a pub and a concert and theatre room in the early 1850s. Over the years, he modified the existing buildings to create a sumptuous new music hall, where all sorts of entertainment from refined madrigals, ballet and excerpts from opera to attractions from West End, circus and fairground were shown to the East End public.

John Wilton managed the Wilton until 1868, when he sold it, which continued operating as a music hall under various managers for the next thirteen years until its closure in 1881.

In 1888 Wilton’s was acquired by the East London Methodist Mission to support the East End population who at the time were affected by extreme poverty and squalid living conditions. The Mission operated until 1956, when it became a rag-sorting warehouse.

In the 1960s the London County Council (LCC) planned the demolition of the Wilton and other nearby buildings as part of a redevelopment project, which prompted a public campaign to save the Wilton. In 1964 LCC agreed to buy the building and keep the building. In the meantime the campaign to save the building continued into the 1970s with several high profile personalities and organisations’ support. In 1971, the building acquired grade 2* listed status and a year later a Trust was formed to raise funds to buy the lease.

In 1982 The London Music Hall Trust, charitable trust was formed and essential repairs commenced.

In 1997 the Wilton opened its doors to audiences once again and continued striving to reach its former glory, undergoing restauration and rebuilding work over the years until 2015. The Wilton now functions as a popular theatre and an live music venue.

Found in 12 Collections and/or Records:

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

Dick Whittington and His Cat Handbill, 1 to 31 December 2015

Reference code: 178T47.6
Scope and Contents

Wilton's Music Hall. White type and colour photograph of cast on front, on reverse list of cast and brief introduction.

Dates: 1 to 31 December 2015

Handbills, 1882 - 2017

Reference code: 178T47
Scope and Contents

Handbills for Brick Lane Music Hall, Admission All Classes, Colston Hall, Harry H. Hamilton, Wilton's Music Hall, Player's Theatre, Hoxton Hall.

Dates: 1882 - 2017

Monographs, Articles, Manuscripts and Research Material, c1900 - 2018

Reference code: 178B44
Scope and Contents

Monographs, articles and research material on early travelling moving picture shows, related to the Poole family , Wilton's Music Hall, Walter Sickert, Bedford Music Hall, Randall Williams and early cinema in Scotland

Dates: c1900 - 2018

The Magic of Music Hall Programme, 24 - 25 October 2015

Reference code: 178K53.44
Scope and Contents

Wilton's Music Hall. Blue, red and white and blue type on off white background, containing programme and a children's activity on reverse, 4p.p folded

Dates: 24 - 25 October 2015

Various Items of Ephemera, c1800 - 2016

Reference code: 178Z64
Scope and Contents

Various items related to George Walter Poole, Wilton's Music Hall, Henry James Mayer, Alexander Billington, James Upton Printers, Gompertz's panorama show, Poole's Myriorama and Diorama shows and Messrs Strange and Wilson Ghost show. Also includes a theatrical clock with two figures on the sides attracting customers.

Dates: c1800 - 2016

Various Items of Ephemera, c1800 - 1899

Reference code: 178Z64.2
Scope and Contents

A business card for James Upton printers, Verona House menu, a coaster from Wilton's Music Hall, W. Mayer tobacconist advertisement, a humorous card entitled A Slight Hint, a paper about Christopher Bunaway, a hand written price list and a hand written table of medical complaints. Colour illustrations and black and white photograph of the Wilton, Tit-Bits miniarture newspaper.

Dates: c1800 - 1899

Wilton's, A History of the Hall and Houses Monograph, 2015

Reference code: 178B44.2
Scope and Contents

Monograph by Calore Zeidman. Foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales, contains colour and black and white photographs, 26p.p

Dates: 2015

Wilton's Music Hall Handbill, 2015

Reference code: 178T47.4
Scope and Contents

The Magic of Music Hall Family Weekender. Blue and red type on off white background, colour photograph of community activity on front and programme of events on reverse.

Dates: 2015

Wilton's Music Hall Newsletters, 2015 - 2016

Reference code: 178Z64.16
Scope and Contents

Newsletters and other related items including letter of thank you and envelopes addressed to William Barnes.

Dates: 2015 - 2016

Wilton's Music Hall Programme, September 2015

Reference code: 178K53.54
Scope and Contents

Saved, Revealed. White type and colour photograph of section of a wall on front cover, inside introduction to Wilton's, programme, colour photographs of acts and information about the building, 8p.p

Dates: September 2015

Wilton's Music Hall Programme, January - April 2016

Reference code: 178K53.55
Scope and Contents

Dance, Theatre, Cabaret, Magic and Music. White type on blue photograph of section of the theatre on front cover, inside introduction, programme, colour photographs of acts and information about the building, 8p.p

Dates: January - April 2016

Additional filters:

Archival Object 11
Collection 1
Acrobats 1
Aerialists 1
Anglo-Afghan Wars 1
Anglo-Burmese War, 3rd, 1885 1
Anglo-Egyptian War, 1882 2