20th November 1916 Monday
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“… the boat was crowded, and the crossing was a bad one. I wasn’t at all well! Folkestone was reached about 9 o’clock and I got a seat in the Pullman for London. Victoria was reached at about 11am. Great! I drove across London in style in an old growler!* There were no taxis. I put up at Morley’s Hotel** in Trafalgar Square. After lunch saw the official war films at La Scala Picture Theatre.# At night I went to “the Bing Boys”## at the Alhambra. George Robey was in great form.”
The Channel crossing was a perilous affair at this time. On the 26th October 1916 only three weeks before Douglas’s voyage the regular Boulogne /Folkestone steamer “Queen” had been sunk by a German destroyer.
* A Growler was a four wheeled horse drawn taxi, so called due to the noise made by the wheels on the cobbled streets.
** Morley’s Hotel, favoured by Douglas on more than one occasion, stood on the spot now occupied by South Africa House,
# La Scala Picture Theatre was a largely unsuccessful theatre situated on the corner of Tottenham Street and Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia. It was used to show the very earliest of colour films in a process known as Kinemacolour. It was also used for the theatre scenes in the Beatles’ film “A Hard Day’s Night”. The site is now occupied by various buildings amongst which is Scala Court.
## “The Bing Boys are here” was a very popular revue that ran from 19th April 1916 at the Alhambra Theatre in Leicester Square until 1917. It was also produced on Broadway and was still in production in the 1930s. Probably the best remembered song from the show is “If You Were the Only Girl in the World” Douglas’s granddaughter Elizabeth remembers him often singing that tune. The Alhambra itself was originally built with minarets which by this time had been removed. After undergoing various rebuilds since it first opened as a theatre in 1856 it finally closed its doors in 1936 and was demolished soon after. The space today is occupied by a very drab building, Alhambra House.
Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here