Walter Lawrence Emden
Mayor of Dover 1907, 1908 and 1909 differed from all his predecessors in that he was not a member of the Town Council, having been chosen under a special provision of the Municipal Corporation Act 1182. This allowed a burgess of another council to qualify and as he had previously been the Mayor of Westminster, he helped the Dover Pageant with his many connections in the capital. The mayor was able to raise a considerable amount of sponsorship money to finance the event.
Duke of York 's Theatre designed by
Walter Emden,(1847 - 1913) was one of the leading English theatre and music hall architects in the building boom of 1885 to 1915. Today, the Duke Of York's Theatre is the London headquarters of the Ambassador Theatre Group, forming part of their portfolio of eight venues.
Emden was the second son of William S. Emden, lessee of London's Olympic Theatre, and was born in the vicinity of the theatre in The Strand. Originally studying as a civil engineer, he joined architects Kelly and Lawes in 1870 in the burgeoning construction of theatres. He was immediately given the commission of designing the Globe Theatre. Emden also became a member of the Strand District Board of Works, a forerunner of local councils, and for seven years acted as chair. In 1890, he was elected to the London County Council.
In 1880, W. G. R. Sprague, a former pupil of Frank Matcham, joined Emden's practice as an apprentice for three years. From 1889, Emden entered a partnership with Charles J. Phipps building the Tivoli, Garrick Theatre and Duke of York's. His most important work, The Tivoli, in the Strand became the archetype for music hall and variety theatre architecture.
His worked extended to hotels, restaurants and, as it became popular, cinemas. He also had a younger half-brother, Henry (1852-1930), who was a leading scenic artist, painting the stage curtain for Walter's Trafalgar Theatre in 1892.
The Guide to British Theatres describes Emden's early work as “the epitome of architectural illiteracy ” betraying his lack of formal training in architecture. He benefited from his collaborations and the Guide describes a “well behaved, precise quality to Emden's later work which properly reflects his social achievements in the world of affairs ” Sadly, theatre and music-hall design was not accorded the same accolades accorded to civic and church architecture when they were built, it was not until the late 20th century that they were accorded any importance and many of Emden's surviving buildings have now been listed as being of architectural significance.
He formally retired in 1906, passing the practice to Emden, Egan and Co., a partnership formed from his four principal assistants; Stephen H. Egan, his son William S. Emden, A. J. Croughton and T. C. Overtone. They remained in offices in Lancaster Place, off the Strand and designed many suburban London cinemas and hotels including the iconic “State Cinema” (1910) in Leytonstone. Most of these large cinemas have now succumbed, as music-hall did to them, to television and been modified to other uses, or demolished.
Emden died in London in 1913.
His list of theatre designs include:
Globe Theatre Newcastle Street 1870 1,800 Demolished 1902.
Civic Theatre Barnsley 1877 800 Restoration of the complex in 2004, and its conversion to business and retail has eliminated the theatre.
Terry's Theatre Strand 1887 800 Demolished 1923.
Royal Court Theatre Sloane Square 1888 642 Grade II with assistant Bertie Crewe
Garrick Theatre Charing Cross Road 1889 800 Grade II* with Charles J. Phipps
Leno's Varieties Sheffield c1890 Burnt down 1893
Tivoli Theatre of Varieties The Strand 1890 1,500 Demolished 1916 Further alterations 1910
Trafalgar Theatre later, the Duke of York's St Martin's Lane 1890 900 Grade II
Palace Theatre Cambridge Circus 1892 1,400 Grade II* Conversion to variety theatre
Royalty Theatre Soho 1895 657 Demolished 1953 war damaged Alterations
Imperial Theatre Tothill Street, Westminster 1898 Rebuilt 1901 Alterations
T O COMMEMORATE T H E L A T E HON. C. S. ROLLS.
The sad and lamentable loss of the life of the Hon. C. S. Rolls, I think, all the more emphasises the suggestion I lately put forward by your kind permission, for a memorial of the great record he made in his double cross-Channel flight. We now have to mourn in his loss a leading pioneer of new means of locomotion and aviation, and thus beyond the record of a great event, to record the loss of one who has done much for his country's advancement in these directions.
His brilliant career deserves indeed (and I hope the public will think it demands) a personal memorial which shall show that we are not unmindful of those who lead the van for the progress of knowledge and risk to lose their lives in these brave efforts.
WALTER EMDEN, Mayor of Dover.
2, Lancaster Place, Strand, W.C.
THE LONDON GAZETTE, DECEMBER 28, 1906. 9165
For the City of Westminster and Liberties thereof. Thomas Walter Lawrence Emden, 2, Lancasterplace, Strand, W.C.,
Dover mayor Walter Emden (Mayor from 1907-1910) on photo is seated right, with Prince Louis Battenberg, in Naval uniform, left.
They are pictured at the entrance to the former Seamen's Bethel/Mission, on the corner of Northampton Street and Snargate Street.