Esoteric London

No. 852: Pitfield Street, N1

Posted in Entertainment, London Music by esotericlondon on June 4, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_8949 copy

Pitfield Street, London, N1. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

London and Londoners in the Eighteen-Fifties and Sixties – Alfred Rosling Bennett, 1924:

This autumn I attended my first public ball. The occasion was a benefit given for the family of the victim of an accident. He was not known to me, and I took a ticket to oblige a friend, not, at first, intending to be present. The locale was the well-known Horns Tavern at Kennington, of which I had vaguely heard as a centre of frequent festivities. I found some two hundred guests assembled in the capacious ballroom, in full enjoyment of waltz, mazurka, polka, schottische and quadrille, all danced with vigour, the scene presented being novel and curious to an unsophisticated youth like myself.
But the event of the evening was an unexpected one. Between the dances it was announced that Miss Nellie Power, the celebrated child artiste, had most kindly given her services, and at 9 o’clock would sing one of her popular songs. At that hour, the musical conductor – a Frenchman got up like Napoleon III – and his orchestra of perhaps half a dozen performers, took station in front of a platform, towards which the guests immediately crowded and packed themselves in a compact mass.
An elderly lady and a little girl of thirteen or so appeared at one side of the daïs; a cloak and hood were laid aside, and Nellie Power – her real name, I believe, was Lingham – sprang, a cloud of gauzy white drapery, up the steps and smilingly curtsied amidst frantic applause. The Napoleonic conductor, with a gravity and assumption of importance that struck me as almost comical, lifted his baton, and, when silence was finally obtained, started the prelude to Buy a Broom. Extremely good-looking and with a powerful yet sweet and sympathetic voice – that in after-years caused people to cry with Tis but a Little Faded Flower – the youthful songstress made the room reverberate with melody, especially when she came to the florid refrain, or jödel, as I believe it is called.

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