A 1 hour walking tour around Hammersmith
The curtain raiser for the morning was a revealing look at the Carnegie Library. The architect, Henry Hare – explained our engaging and animated guide Ann – left an eponymous clue on each of his works. We scanned the walls. We peered around the interior. There was no sign that we could see : a bad Hare day for us.
Then main feature, the Lyric Theatre. I knew that the 1970’s shell exterior concealed a Frank Matcham gem of a proscenium, elegant plaster work and red velvet push seats, rather unexpectedly revealed to the audience, after passing through breezeblock corridors and board-marked concrete foyers.
There are almost as many ‘Lyrics’ as there were Schliemann’s Troy but, it’s also been on the move.
The original Lyric Music Hall was in Bradmore Grove ( is that now under Primark ? ) transforming into the Lyric Opera House in 1890. Frank refashioned it, returning in 1899 to expand it further. This survived until 1969 and while the exterior was demolished the interior miraculously was preserved, reopening with Matcham features in 1979. In 2004 it gained a new entrance and Lyric Square and in 2012 Reuben Foundation wing was begun, to embrace new strands of work for young people and roof garden, a treat for a tour group on a sunny Saturday morning.
Of all the features it was the plaster work that astounded me – some preserved from the 1890’s while replacements were made from original moulds. The detailing is wonderful. Arrive early when you next visit to take time to appreciate it.
If you’re North rather than West London, you can still see one of these plaster panels in the foyer Park Theatre, Finsbury Park
[ photo credits : Alison Rae]