Florrie Forde lived for a time in the music hall community on Shoreham Beach in West Sussex. She opened a dance hall called Flo’s Beach Club which had a dubious reputation among some local residents for scandalous behaviour. She lived in a house called Gull’s Nest and one of her enduring songs is I do like to be beside the seaside. Predictive text turns her name into Florid Forde which seems a little unfair. Here is a link to Florrie singing.
Florrie Forde I do like to be beside the seaside 1909
Spencer Gore painted Florrie Forde at the Old Bedford Music Hall on Camden High Street in London in 1912. She appears to be winking.
A singer at the Old Bedford
Spencer Gore 1912
Other music hall stars who liked to be beside the seaside were the already mentioned Marie and Cecilia Loftus, living at bungalows Pavlova and Cecilia and Vesta Tilley at The Bungalow. Marie Lloyd was reported to be the first woman to own a car on Shoreham Beach.
More pictures can be found in the publication Hollywood–by–Sea by Edward and Alice Colquhoun.
On Saturday I visited David Drummond’s shop, PLEASURES OF PAST TIMES, in Cecil Court near Leicester Square underground station in London. It’s packed with memorabilia, including postcards, books, posters and sheet music. I found sheet music with a wonderful picture of Alice Harvey on the front.
‘The neat and natty’ Alice Harvey
She was an early male impersonator and the song is entitled ‘Say you love me Nellie.’ This dates from 1882 and she’s dressed as a masher, a man about town careful of his appearance. She is reported in The Era, a newspaper of the time, as having great success and being re-engaged everywhere. She is advertised as performing in three halls every evening which was the norm for music hall performers. They would rush to the next engagement in a horse-drawn cab, often changing costume as they went.
Marie Loftus, the Sarah Bernhardt of the halls
My other find was a postcard of Marie Loftus, billed as ‘The Sarah Bernhardt of the Halls.’ She was a serio-comic singer, very popular in pantomime and was a hit in America as well as here. When appearing in Brighton she travelled along the coast to Shoreham-by-Sea and took the ferry over to Shoreham Beach. She liked it so much she built a bungalow there and was the first of many music hall stars to settle on the beach. It became known as Bungalow Town with houses built from wood and old railway carriages which were pulled across the river by horses when the tide was low. I’ll be writing more about Bungalow Town and women from the Music Hall who lived there.