Wars of music

What was the ‘Music Hall War’?

In January 1907 tensions between management and artistes in London music halls worsened when theatre owners tried to introduce extra matinee performances without extra pay. Many of the performers went on strike in what became known as the ‘Music Hall War’.


Several big stars, including Marie Lloyd, supported the strike and refused to go on stage themselves. Management responded by engaging less well-known acts and bringing others out of retirement. The ploy was not successful.

“Let her through,” Marie Lloyd is supposed to have said of one ageing singer who was attempting to get through the picket lines outside one theatre, “she’ll close the place faster than we can.” The strike ended in arbitration in favour of the artistes after two weeks.


Answered by: Nick Rennison