Record

Ref NoGFN
TitleGallery First Nighters' Club Archive
DescriptionPapers of the London-based theatrical social club, established in 1896. Club appears to have closed in 1996/7. Collection composed of business papes, minutes, correspondence, volumes and ephemera.
Date1905 - 1997
AdminHistoryThe Gallery First Nighters' Club was a London-based theatrical social club, established in 1896. For the first 70 years it was a gentleman-only club, opening to women in 1966. It held monthly Sunday evening meetings, which were addressed by many persons of note in the theatre and its allied arts.

The club had no fixed venue: for a long time they had a GFN room at the Duke of Argyll pub, where the walls were lined with unique photographs, playbills, programmes, menus and memorabilia. When they were "compelled by the landlord brewers to move", the GFN put all these items into storage, where they were later largely destroyed by flood damage. They then found a home in the lounge on the first floor of the Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street where they met until 1976, when they moved to the CAA (Club for Acts and Actors, formerly the Concert Artistes Association) in Bedford Street, London.

In its earliest days, it was the Club's practice to hold four dinners a year: one designated the Annual, and the others, Specials. Prominent theatre personalities were invited to speak at the Annual: the Specials were opportunities for the Club to honour individual celebrities or duos or teams, in recognition of their special contributions to "Theatre" with a capital "T". Gradually, the incidence of four dinners reduced to three and then happily settled into a format of two: The Annual (in the Spring), and the Special (in the Autumn). During the last 20 years or so, the Club concentrated its endeavours on arranging one per year - in honour of a solo celebrity, a husband and wife team, or a notable show or event.

Between 200 and 300 diners were accommodated at each event, with no fixed venue. Restaurants which received the Club's custom in its 100 year history were: Chez Auguste, The Comedy Restaurant, The Criterion, Fischer's, Frascati's, and the London Marriot Hotel (formerly the Europa).
Related MaterialThere are also archives relating to this organisation within the Mander & Mitchenson Collection.
Extent3 boxes
LevelCollection
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