An Original Vintage Billboard Theatre Poster for The Hackney Empire


Origin: English
Period: Late Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1988
Height: 31 inches
Width: 21.5 inches
Condition: B
Poster Dimensions: 29.5 x 19.5 inches

Promoting London’s flagship variety theatre, the poster, in circus style, with red and blue capital lettered wood-block typeface advertises a ‘Traditional British Variety’ evening of entertainment to include the likes of Joan Regan – Britain’s glamourous recording, stage & TV star and Don Smoothey the comedian. Printed by G&M Organ Theatrical Printers at Webbsbrook Printing Works, this knockout line-up would surely be trouncing the likes of the X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent if it were staged today.

The poster has some very light edge wear and a small area which has remnants of clear adhesive tape but is in largely good condition, displayed in a quality contemporary glazed frame. 

Frank Matcham, one of the world’s most accomplished and inventive theatre architects, built the Hackney Empire in 1901. With its electric lights, central heating and in-built projection box was a technological wonder of its time. When the theatre opened under the ownership of Oswald Stoll (later of Stoll Moss fame) it attracted acts from all over the world. Chaplin appeared a number of times before decamping to America to gain fame in Hollywood, and Stan Laurel perfected his act upon these boards.

A boldly attractive piece of promotion material, this billboard evokes the golden era of British popular entertainment encapsulating the nostalgia of music hall, variety shows and the travelling circus.