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TOTAL DESTRUCTION BY FIRE…

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TOTAL DESTRUCTION BY FIRE OF 1 THE SURREY THEATRE, r ) The Surrey Theatre, in the Blackfriars-road, the favourite theatre on the south side of the Thames, was on Monday night totally destroyed by fire under the following circumstances. At twenty minutes to 12 o'clock the last scene of the pantomime of Richard Gfcesw de Lion was being'played, and R-awella, t hv down, had just begun his performance of a burlesque soio on the trombone, when happening to oast hi eyes to the ceiling of the theatre, he saw a strong lightreflacting through the aperture over the chande- lier. At OLee suspecting there was a See, he with great presence of mind left the stage quietly and com. municated his suspicions to Mr. Green, the acting manager. That gentleman immediately despatched some of the stage carpenters to see what was the matter, but at the same moment some of the audience were alarmed by a cloud of smoke descending through tbe aperture named, and the cry of fire was raised. Mr, Green came upon the stage, and implored the people to leave the house quietly, and the curtain was at oace lowered. Fortunately, the audience, which had been by no means large during the evening, was at that time extremely scanty, and the house was speedily, cleared without accident. At the time the last few people were leaving, the names burst with great-fury through the ceiling, which was composed at thin laths and painted canvas, and in a very short spfMje of time caught the drapery rcmuirg round the boxes, and the proscenium and stage curtain, from which it at once extended to the scenery and the whole atage became a mass of flame. The scans on the stage aad in the dressing rooms at this time was almost indescribable, the numerous actors and actresses who had been engaged in the pantomime running about in the greatest confusion, and the screams of the ballet girls were heartrending. To add to the horrors of the scene, Mr. Hinkley, the gas superintendent of the theatre, to avoid explosion, turned off tlie gas in the back portion of the theatre, which was thus for some time left in total darkness. Had it net been for the presence of mind displayed by Mr. Green, the acting manager; Mr. Rowella, the Clown; Mr. Evans, the Pantaloon Mr. Vivian, the Sprite, and some other of the pantomimists, the loss of life behind the scenes woald probably have been considerable. Those gentle- men at the risk of their own lives dragged the scream- ing and terrified women and girls through the burning scenery to the stage door, from whence they were conveyed to their homes in a but lightly clothed and fainting state in cabs provided by the police. The last persons brought out of the burning building were several children, who had been representing the j characters of fairies in the transformation scene Messrs. Eowella and Vivian having reported to the stage manager that all persons had been safely re- mu md from the theatre, they made their own escape, ckessgd as they had been playing their respective parts, no persons engaged in the pantomime having had time to aJaange their dress, so rapid was the progress of the fire. In loss than ten minutes from the first alarm, in&eed, the whole interior of the theatre was one mass djtjflames. Wfyile the above soone"was taking plaee inside the building, there -was the greatest excitement in the neighbourhood of the theatre. Crowds of people, WrACted by the reflection of the flames, which, shoot- iag ^tp high, illuminated the air for miles round, came redizig up, and cabs, loaded with people, were being to the scene from all directions. Within ten ngdnates of the alarm being given a strong body of the ISFaad.L divisions of police from the Stones-end and Twwer-gtreet stations arrived on the ground, and, by 4M of great exertions, cleared a sufficient space for engines, several of which, both steam and manual, had by that time arrived, the powerful steam engine of Mr. F. Hodges being almost the first arrivals. So rapid, however, had been the flames that, before any of the engines could be brought into play, the whole intefriof of the theatre was completely burnt out, the roof,-galleries, and boxes, falling in rapid succession, aad aothing was left standing of the building but the portico and front wall, facing the Blackfriars-road. Several small houses, also, in the rear of the theatre, occupied by poor people, had by this time fallen a prey to the flames, the inmates barely escaping with their lives. For at least a quarter of a mila round the theatre the streets were strewed with burning embers t from the theatre, and several persona were severely b«rned by the large flakes of fire which fell upon them. So intense was the heat that the fronts of the houses on the opposite side of the B Jack- friar abroad facing the theatre were much soorched, aad the wood-work was only kept from igniting by copious streams of water being played upon it from two engines specially detailed off for that purpose. About one o'clock Mr. Shepherd, one of the lessees of the theatre, arrived at the scene of destruction, and was immediately surrounded by the male members of his company, all dressed in their theatrical costumes, } but begrimed with dirt and smoke and saturated with water, the result of their efforts, in the first instance, to extinguish the fire and afterwards in rescuing the female portion of the company. His first inquiry was Are there any lives sacrificed ? and on being in- formed that it was thought every one had escaped, he fervently ejaculated, "Thank God for that." So rapid was the fire that it is stated nothing-what- ever belonging to or in the theatre was saved from destruction. The new and splendid scenery, the valuable properties, the costly wardrobe, and every article of clothing belonging to the company, were all consumed in a few minutes. Much commiseration was expressed by the neighbours and the crowds of people present fer the lessees of the theatre Messrs. Aader3on and Shepherd. Although insured to some ojctent their loss will be very great. At -least 300 persons will also be thrown out of employment at a season when there is little opportunity of 'I any other engagement. The part of the house where the fire was first I.. observed, immediately above the chmdeher, was -ased as the painters' and carpenters' workshops, but its origin cannot at present be ascertained. It is cer- tain however, that the catastrophe did not arise from any cause immediately connected with the perform-1 aaces of the evening. The fire continued burning till daylight, but-all, ftirther danger was over by about three o'clock. The firemen, however, were playing upon the burning rains, and an immense crowd of people was assem- bled loeking on. imtre. lessees estimate the value of the theatre and its sowteni-s at about X12,000, and the insurance effected; upon it, owing to the heavy duty charged ftpon pro- perty of this description, was little more than X2,000. Messrs. Wade and Patchez, the contractors for the refreshment department of the theatre, and who had I, iarge stbek upon the premises, are also severe loser,,4 by the calamity, being altogether uninsured. The latest particulars received state that after a searching inquiry and minute investigation of the rains made by the lessees, Messrs. Shepherd and Awderson, assisted by the fire brigade, they came to tfce unanimous conclusion that the eataatrophe origi- nated from the accidental overheating of the eh a* de liert and that the heat being forced up by the strong current of air ascending up the shaft- down which the chandelier was suspended caused the ignition of the egiling, which in its turn communicated the flame co 13119 masa of combustible materials in the painterff and; carpenters' workshops, filled at the time with a large quantity of new scenery and mechanical contrivances; nrepaired'for the production of a new drama. have been indefatigable m attending to the immediate necessities of the nuiusrous persons lately in their employ, and on Tuesday nignt a general aaeetisg of the members of the company was held to take their present unfortunate position into conaiaera- tisa, After arrangements had been made to meet the immediate wants of those present, it was resolved that a committee should be formed, with the object ot; getting up a series of benefits at some of the metro- politan theatres, the lessees of several of which have handsomely placed their establishments at the disposal of the burnt-out company for one night.

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