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Episode 1108

Frank Matcham
Sun, 2020-May-17 01:03 UTC
Length - 3:57

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Sunday, 17 May 2020 is Frank Matcham.

Francis Matcham (22 November 1854 – 17 May 1920) was an English architect who specialised in the design of theatres and music halls. He was best known for his work in London under Moss Empires, which included the designs of the Hippodrome (1900), Hackney Empire (1901), Coliseum (1903), Palladium (1910) and the Victoria Palace (1911). During his 40-year career, he was responsible for the design and construction of over 90 theatres and the redesign and refurbishment of a further 80 throughout the United Kingdom. According to the dramatist Alan Bennett, there was a Matcham theatre in every corner of the UK.

Matcham was born in Newton Abbot, Devon, where he became apprenticed at the age of 14 to the architect George Soudon Bridgman. Matcham moved to London, aged 21, where he joined the architectural practice of J. T. Robinson, who was to become his father-in-law. Under Robinson, Matcham completed his first solo design, the Elephant and Castle Theatre, which opened in June 1879. He took over Robinson's business on the latter's death and continued the designs of various provincial theatres. Matcham formed his own practice, Matcham & Co., in the 1880s and enlisted skilled craftsman. His first major association came in the 1880s when he was employed to design and refurbish theatres belonging to the Revill family who owned many of the theatres throughout the UK at that time.

Matcham's most successful period was between 1892 and 1912 when he worked extensively for Moss Empires, a theatrical company headed by Edward Moss and run by Oswald Stoll. Under them, he completed 21 theatres, most of which were in the provinces. During this period, although not with Moss Empires, he completed the designs for the Tower Ballroom at Blackpool Tower, the Grand Theatre, Blackpool, both in 1894, and the County Arcade, Leeds in 1900. The author Iain Mackintosh, writing for the Dictionary of National Biography in 1993, describes Matcham's theatre interiors to be superior when compared to the building's external designs. Matcham's use of cantilevers for the galleries allowed him to discontinue the use of columns, which would otherwise obstruct the audience's view of the stage. The auditorium decorations were often mixed with Tudor strap-work, Louis XIV detail, Anglo-Indian motifs, naval and military insignia, rococo panels, classical statuary, and baroque columns.

Matcham retired to Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, shortly before the First World War, where he died of a heart attack, brought about by a blood infection, in 1920. His biographer Brian Walker notes from the architect's personal archives that he was "a man of remarkable vigour and had an enthusiasm for life ... he possessed a tranquility of mind and [had] a great sense of humour and fun."

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 01:03 UTC on Sunday, 17 May 2020.

For the full current version of the article, see Frank Matcham on Wikipedia.

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