Category Archives: Music Hall

The Pepper and The Palace

Fragile Archivists would like to wish everyone all the best for 2016 – the 40th anniversary of the start of Chats Palace.

Look out for our anniversary exhibition later this year. In the meantime here is this month’s Red Pepper magazine’s feature on 40 years of Chats Palace (click on the link to read the full article)!

24 in pictures chats _124 in pictures chats_2

Available half-price from Chats Palace!


The story so far …

Visit our new page of Exhibitions and Talks and don’t forget that ‘Mike Gray – In Black and White’ photography exhibition is at Chats Palace bar throughout the Summer 2015 as well as the ‘Photographer Unknown’ next door in Chats gallery. Have a lovely Summer!

Mike Gray - In Black and White

One Sunday Over The Lea

To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the first ‘Hackney Marsh Fun Festival’ back in the summer of 1974 the Fragile Archivists will present a number of articles over the next few months celebrating aspects of the Marshes and Marsh related culture.

To kick things off Brian Walker offers a personal reminiscence… and a little song.

This short piece was submitted to the My London Film competition, held by the East End Film Festival in partnership with Time Out London and YouTube.

We just got the news that the film made the competition’s official TOP 15 list and will be screened  this Saturday afternoon at 1.30pm as part of a special programme at One Stop Film Shop, being held in partnership with Little White Lies in Old Street Station.

We hope to see you there for screenings of Top 15 short films about London!

Some enchanted evenings

Brian Walker recalls the days of Music Hall at Chats Palace:

In the early days of Chats Palace, Mike Grey, a local historian and stalwart of the community, was instrumental in getting a Blue Plaque placed on a house in Graham Road where Music Hall superstar Marie Lloyd once lived. To celebrate this historic occasion Chats staged an ‘Old Time Music Hall’, and so it began. So popular was it that it was decided to make it a regular event.

Unveiling of the Blue Plaque to Marie Lloyd, 1977 © Mike Gray / Chats Palace

Soon regular customers and people from all over London turned up every month, and a group of local families became involved in supporting the shows and in time formed The Homerton Volunteers. This support continued for nearly 16 years. Eventually the Volunteers were responsible for running the Music Hall.

At first all performers were professional, but local and would be entertainers were encouraged to take part. However the success of the shows meant that many professional artistes asked to appear and eventually Chats had a reputation for fun and audience participation. It became so popular that at one time that Saturday night shows were repeated on Sundays as well.

Many famous people came to perform, faces seen on TV brought a bit of glamour to Homerton, amongst these were the legendary Clive Dunn of Dad’s Army fame, and believe it or not, the whole Muppet Company. Many old Variety turns found a place to perform their nostalgic acts bringing a lot of traditional skills that younger people had never seen before, but our local performers still had a chance to get up and do their bit.

The Homerton Volunteers with Animal the Muppet, 29 March 1980

The Music Hall was taken to many local festivals and venues, working at The Hackney Show every year, The GLC shows and even on the back of a lorry in The Easter Parade at Battersea Park. When The Hackney Empire was reopened, Chats Palace Music Hall put on one of the first Traditional Variety shows to be staged there.

What wonderful happy days!  Marie Lloyd would have loved it!

See here for a selection of posters publicising Music Hall nights.