[I]t is hard to believe now but once, and I’m afraid you will have to take my word for this, once Leicester Square was a rather splendid public space. But in 1936 town planners decided to steal a march on Hitler and start destroying London first.
The old Alhambra Theatre in Leicester Square was a prime site for ‘redevelopment’. Max Miller who at the time was probably the most famous entertainer in England, heard it was being demolished and went along for a last look at the theatre he’d performed at on many occasions.
When he arrived at lunchtime on hearing that the famous stage was about to be taken down he climbed on the boards and gave the workmen a hilarious one hour performance. Ten minutes after he’d finished, the stage was gone for ever.
Near the end of his life he confessed that his proudest professional moment was; as he put it “closing the old Alhambra”.
With the prospect of strikes by public service workers imminent I will leave you with a picture of Leicester Square the last time there was industrial action by dustmen.