The Bedford, Camden Town
Together with colleagues at King’s College London, John Stokes and Richard Kirkland have developed a particular interest in ‘The Bedford’ Camden Town which was sadly demolished in 1969. They are now wondering about the possibility of a digital reconstruction accompanied with archival material relating in particular to its rebuilding in the 1890s.
In the early twentieth century the Bedford established itself as one of the most important halls in London, hosting all the major performers of the time and gaining distinction as Marie Lloyd’s favourite venue. It was also a place that Walter Sickert and other members of the Camden Town Group painted and sketched many times. As music-hall waned in popularity so the Bedford’s fortunes declined. It was converted to a cinema in 1933, then to a conventional theatre in 1937, and eventually closed down entirely in 1959. The building lay derelict for a decade before it was finally demolished. Its woebegone appearance in its last years was depicted in the documentary The London Nobody Knows, directed by Norman Cohen in 1967.
A digital reconstruction would be an ambitious and expensive undertaking that would require funding by one of the major academic bodies and putting together an application would in itself be a complicated business. However, King’s is at the forefront of digital technology and, together with John and Richard, have some considerable experience of research into theatre history and a great deal of enthusiasm. As part of their preparations for a bid for funding they would be delighted to hear from anybody who could share their memories of the Bedford with them. Full acknowledgement would, of course, be given and all permissions sought. They can be contacted by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at the Department of English, King’s College London, WC2R 2LS.