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A Night in the West End 1914-1918


A Night in the West End 1914-1918

A Lecture-Concert presented by Dr Emma Hanna and Dr Helen Brooks with the Invicta Concert Band


Doors and bar open 6.30pm.

Concert starts 7pm.

In August 1914 theatre managers were worried about the impact of the war on their businesses. Yet rather than causing a decline in theatre-going, the war provided a much-needed boost to the British theatre industry. Across the country theatres played a vital role in the war effort: encouraging recruitment, raising money for various war charities, and, maintaining the morale of both civilians and service personnel.

London theatres, with their proximity to the train stations at which men would disembark for their short periods of leave, had a particular role to play. To men on leave from the front, as B. F. Findon wrote, ‘a good entertainment is one of the best panaceas for the physical and mental stress to which they are subjected [when] they are ‘facing the music' in the trenches. Two hours and a half in a London theatre is a fine tonic. It makes them, for the time being, forget the past, enjoy the present, and provides pleasurable reminiscences when they have to endure the grim realities of war’. It was a sentiment echoed across both the media and in official announcements. ‘The people’s amusements’ as Lord Derby announced in January 1917 ‘should go on’ and ‘those who come home should be met with cheerful faces, and their time away from the trenches made amusing’.

In this lecture-concert Dr Emma Hanna and Dr Helen Brooks bring together their respective expertise in the histories of wartime music and wartime theatre to explore the story of the wartime West End. With the Invicta Concert Band and professional singers bringing the songs to life, this is a unique opportunity to experience the music and stories from some of the biggest hits of the war years, including Chu Chin Chow, A Little Bit of Fluff, and The Bing Boys Are Here.

A must for any fan of musical theatre and theatre history!

Getting to the event.

The venue is in Canterbury city centre, approximately 10 minutes’ walk from Canterbury West railway station and 15 minutes’ walk from Canterbury East railway station. Parking is available in the adjacent Pound Lane car park at £1.50 an hour and in other city centre car parks. Information about travelling to Canterbury can be found here.

For further information about the event please contact Z2F0ZXdheXMgfCBrZW50ICEgYWMgISB1aw==.

To find out more about the Gateways to the First World War public engagement centre, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) visit

Images: Stage Yearbook; poster from Imperial War Museums collection © IWM (Art.IWM PST 13720)

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