31st December 1917 Monday
A whistle-stop visit to London
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“The leave boat sailed next day (31st) at 10.30 a.m, and was very crowded. Another leave boat, and a hospital ship accompanied us across. The sea was rough, but I didn’t feel the least bit squeamish. We got into Folkestone about noon. I lunched on the Pullman en route for London, which was reached at 2.15 p.m. I tubed it across to King’s Cross, and deposited my baggage in the left-luggage office. Then I did some shopping after obtaining some money at Holt’s. The shops looked fine, and the streets were crowded. I also went to the Palladium (1st house), and saw ‘Little Tich’, Bransby Wlliams, Neil Kenyon, Ernie Lotinga etc. It was a fine show. I caught the 11.30 p.m. train from King’s Cross for Edinburgh. Managing to wangle a sleeper, I passed into the New Year – asleep! Thus began a great leave which was extended to seventeen days so that I might receive my Military Cross from H.M. King George at Buckingham Palace.”
Holt’s, founded in 1809, still provide banking services for the military from their base in Farnborough. They are today part of the Royal Bank of Scotland. In 1992 the London branch merged with Drummonds at Charing Cross.
The London Palladium opened on Boxing Day 1910 with a variety show. Charles Gulliver managing director at the time of Douglas’s visit had been managing the theatre since 1912 and directed a string of successful productions.
We think Douglas may have been mistaken about seeing the first house as it would be impossible to have visited both King’s Cross and Holt’s and then arrived at the Palladium only 15 minutes after getting off the train at Victoria. The second house would have been a better fit for his timetable.
Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here